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Friday, March 19, 2010

When you read a poll coming from Israel, you must consider the source

The headline screams: "Most Israelis see Obama as fair and friendly" (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). Oh really? But last summer 6% and then 4% of Israelis saw Obama as pro-Israel, and he certainly has not gotten more pro-Israel since then. And this week, 62% of Israelis saw Obama as responsible for the crisis in relations between Israel and the United States. And even Haaretz, which not only commissioned but acted as the pollster in the headlined poll, admits that a plurality of 48%-41% of Israelis wants to keep building in the capital, even at the expense of a rift with the United States.

So what gives?

What gives is that like in many other countries in the world, poll results here are influenced by who commissions the polls and how they phrase the questions (you will recall that I made similar comments about a poll on Thursday that said that 49% of Israelis felt we should stop building in Judea and Samaria as part of a peace deal). Haaretz leans hard Left - I have referred to it many times on this blog as Israel's 'Hebrew Palestinian daily.' By contrast, Maagar Mochot, which does polls for Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) leans hard Right. Their poll finds Israelis favoring continued construction in Jerusalem by 62-26%, with only 9% saying Obama is pro-Israel (42% pro-Arab and 34% neutral).

And the Israel Radio poll I cited on Thursday, which was done by Shvakim Panorama (probably to the Right of Haaretz but not by much) also found that 74% of Israelis felt the US reaction to the Ramat Shlomo announcement was exaggerated.

By the way, last summer's polls that found Obama's popularity at 4 and 6% were Smith polls done on behalf of the Jerusalem Post, which is usually regarded as centrist.

This is a country in which polling is not always accurate. Respondents often deceive the pollsters. Some respondents - like me - slam down the phone (otherwise you get called nearly every day because Israel is very politically active and there's a relatively small population). This is a country whose Dewey beats Truman moment happened in 1996 (when Netanyahu was 'good for the Jews' and defeated Shimon Peres six months after Yitzchak Rabin's assassination - a shocking result at the time) and not in 1948. Take the polls with a large grain of salt.

How do Israelis really feel about Obama? You'd probably need to average a lot of polls to tell for sure, but my guess is that the single digit numbers are much closer to how Israelis feel about Obama than the 'sweeping majority' (Laura Rozen says it's 70%) that Haaretz claims feels that Obama is 'friendly and fair.'

And yes, I have my biases too.


At 8:44 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel's media is center to hard left. There's not really much of a right wing presence among Israel's chattering elite and the worst of them such as Haaretz's Gideon Levy and Akiva Eldar, want Obama to rape Israel for them. So their views have significant influence even though only 3% of Jewish voters endorse their line. But they do reach a foreign audience which misleads people outside Israel to believe Israelis do think like that, which is not usually the case.

One is well advised to take what is written in the Israeli media and on Israel's main TV channels with a healthy dose of skepticism.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

You have your biases Carl but I think Israel's problem with the world goes far deeper than an inability to explain its side of the story. Its Israel's refusal to say it is right. Israel would rather compromise on Jerusalem than risk standing up to Obama and saying this is our capital and its none of your business. Moshe Feiglin has something to say about that and I do happen to agree with him. Without further ado, its here:

Ouch, Its My Jewish Identity!

Indeed. Israel has not so much a "hasbara" problem as a Jewish one, as a failure to explain why this country belongs to the Jewish people. Israeli leaders have become so used to justifying the enemy's narrative before the world that they have forgotten Israel's raison d'etre. Its not a pretty picture but Feiglin explains Israel's predicament far better than any one else I've read to date.

Read it all.

At 5:17 PM, Blogger Abe Bird said...

Israel needs some FOXNews of her own.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

David Hazony points out that there's some deceit here. Fair, doesn't mean fair as in "fair and balanced."

At 9:18 PM, Blogger Lezer said...

Very well put. As far as Israel is concerned, I despair of the mass media in the western world - including Haaretz.


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