Israelis hold warm views of the U.S. But how do Americans feel about Israel?
While most Israelis have confidence in Biden’s leadership in regards to world affairs, Trump’s numbers were higher
President Joe Biden’s first official trip to the Middle East kicks off Wednesday with a stop in Israel, where polling suggests he’ll get a warm welcome. Israelis have high regard for both the current president and their country’s relationship with the United States more generally, according to the latest numbers from Pew Research Center.
For the most part, the feeling is mutual: A majority of Americans hold favorable views of Israel. But the affection is imbalanced: While 83% of Israeli adults have a favorable opinion of the U.S., only 55% of American adults hold similarly rosy views of Israel.
The same slightly lopsided dynamic characterizes respondents’ feelings about the health of the two countries’ bilateral relationship. Nearly 9 in 10 Israelis believe the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is in good shape, compared to about 7 in 10 Americans.
As for views of Biden, Pew found that 60% of Israelis have confidence in his ability to do the right thing when it comes to world affairs. But Israelis had even more trust in former President Donald Trump’s leadership, with 71% expressing confidence in the former president.
For better or worse, Israelis seemed to see Trump in more extreme terms: They rated Trump as more charismatic than Biden and a stronger leader, too, but a majority deemed the former president as arrogant and intolerant.
More than 4 in 10 Israelis called Trump “dangerous.” Only 21% say the same about Biden, the survey reported.
Israel is diverse. Not only does the country include a large Palestinian Arab minority, Jewish Israeli society is, broadly speaking, divided into four groups: secular, traditional, religious and ultra-Orthodox. There are also political divisions: left, right and center.
Opinions on Biden and the U.S. vary between all of these communities, according to Pew. Secular Jewish Israelis express the most confidence in Biden, while Arab Israelis express the least. Differences also showed up according to educational level with Israelis who have more education (87%) being the most likely to hold a positive view of the U.S. compared to those with less education (80%), Pew reported.
While most Israelis hold the U.S. in high regard, Americans seem to have more mixed feelings about their country’s closest ally in the Middle East.
Republicans — particularly those who identify as conservative — and Americans over the age of 65 are the most likely to have positive attitudes toward Israel. Democrats and young people, on the other hand, hold chillier views: a majority of both say they view Israel unfavorably.
Americans and Israelis also differ on the boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, movement, which aims to punish Israel economically for mistreatment of Palestinians. While Pew found that almost half of Israelis believe that boycotts of Israel pose a “major threat to the country,” a large majority of U.S. adults (84%) have heard very little or nothing at all about the BDS movement.
And there’s another disparity between the two countries: while Israelis give Biden high marks, back home his approval rating has hit an all-time low.