“Obama is ‘parve,’ ” Mr. Hayun said, using the term for foods that belong to neither category. “With [Presidents] Clinton and Bush, you could say, ‘This is milk, this is meat.’ They had different approaches, but nobody ever doubted that they loved Israel.
“With Obama, we don’t know his Middle East program because it changes every day.”
For the first time, polls show that a slight majority of Israelis view Mr. Obama as more “pro-Israel” than “pro-Palestinian.” But he has yet to create an emotional bond with the Israelis, and many still view him as a fair-weather friend.
He has clashed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since the two came to office in 2009. But his popularity among Israelis rose last year as his administration toughened its stance against Iran and thwarted the Palestinian effort to gain statehood recognition from the United Nations.
Many Israelis feel his early outreach to the Muslim world, symbolized in his June 2009 Cairo speech, was at the expense of the Jewish state.
Most thought his initial attempt at dialogue with Iranian leaders wasted precious time in stopping them from acquiring a nuclear weapon - seen as Israel’s top priority.
Israeli opinions about Mr. Obama generally break along political lines.
Right-wing voters in Israel vastly outnumber their left-wing counterparts.
“Even the people in the center don’t like when an American president pushes a prime minister that they elect, even if they think he’s right,” he said. “Israelis say, ‘Let us push him; don’t do that for us.’ “View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
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