A new poll indicates that an overwhelming 83 percent of Israelis envision President-elect Donald Trump as a “Pro-Israel president.” The poll of a representative sample of 500 Israelis was conducted by the Dialog polling group on behalf of the U.S.-based Ruderman Family Foundation.
The Israeli right has certainly been optimistic regarding Trump’s plans. After the election, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), for example, said that Trump’s victory “is a marvelous opportunity for Israel to immediately pull back from the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in the heartland of the Jewish people, a major danger to Israeli security and to the truth of our path. Such directness is the credo of the elected president, and it should also be our credo. This is the end of the era of the concept of a Palestinian state.”
Statements by several of Trump’s top advisers have lent credence to these views. In an interview on the day after the election, David Friedman, an attorney who has worked with President-elect Donald Trump for decades, and during the campaign advised him on Israel and Jewish affairs, told Army Radio that “Israel will have an extraordinarily good friend in the White House, one who will treat Israel with love and respect, and one who appreciates the miracle of Israel. It will be a very welcome change from the past eight years.” Friedman is likely to be named American ambassador to Israel, according to media reports.
Over the weekend, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that Israel should not undertake any major policy changes in Yehudah and Shomron until the administration of President-elect Donald Trump is installed in January – and only then to act, in conjunction with the U.S. “We should not create new surprises, but wait to discuss our issues with the new administration,” Liberman said at the Saban Forum in Washington.
But sources close to Trump quoted several weeks ago by Makor Rishon criticized Liberman for his stance, which he has presented numerous times since the election. The sources were quoted as criticizing Liberman for “cutting us off from the left” even before Trump has named his cabinet or announced his policy on Israeli building in Yehudah and Shomron. “Apparently the Israelis have not absorbed the enormity of this opportunity,” the report quoted the sources as saying. “The new administration is prepared to go very far in its support of Israeli, including even agreeing to annex the settlement blocs.”
While Israelis are optimistic about Trump’s overall Israel policy, they were less optimistic on some of its specifics. Forty-two percent of those surveyed think there is “no chance” Trump will scrap the Iran Nuclear Agreement; only 3 percent think the President-elect will undoubtedly execute on his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Yerushalayim. While Trump has said nothing about the embassy issue, he has repeatedly said that the Iran deal was a bad one, and needed to be replaced or radically changed. In addition, 48 percent said there was “no chance” Trump would be able to negotiate a deal between Israelis and Palestinians. Only 8 percent said there was a “high chance” that Trump would be able to pull off a deal like that.
Israelis are also concerned about the increase of anti-Semitism in the U.S. The poll showed that 48 percent are concerned about the increase in anti-Semitic incidents which were reported in the U.S. since the Trump victory on November 8. On the other hand, 49 percent said they expected “no change” in the status of American Jewry, while 32 percent said that the community would become stronger. Only 19 percent said it would become weaker.
“Our poll of Israelis regarding the new U.S. administration and its impending impact on Israel and American Jewry shows that Israelis are optimistic that President-elect Trump will be a friend of Israel while at the same time they are concerned about the growing incidents of anti-Semitism in the United States and …[their] impact on the American Jewish community,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which focuses on strengthening the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community. “Israelis have faith in a strong relationship between the United States and Israel, but are worried about the new reality for their fellow Jews in America.”