Sunday, February 1, 2015

How Americans really feel about Netanyahu and why it matters

    Sunday, February 01, 2015   No comments

 By Shibley Telhami January 30

 The controversy over an invitation to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to address Congress shortly before Israeli elections has polarized the U.S. political scene. Netanyahu has been here before, of course. His transparent support for the Republican candidate for president in 2012, Mitt Romney, generated much resentment in the Democratic Party hierarchy, and certainly in the Obama administration. But this time – together with House Speaker John Boehner – he is a central player in a highly charged national political environment pitting a Republican-controlled Congress against a Democratic president; public and media attention is much greater, and the consequences potentially higher.

How this will play out in terms of U.S. politics and the impact on relations with Israel depends in part upon a more basic question: How do Americans see Bibi Netanyahu in the first place? And how do these attitudes play into a broader, and growing national divide about policy toward Israel? Some of the questions in a November 2014 poll I conducted – fielded by the research company GfK – among a nationally representative panel of 1008 Americans offer some intriguing evidence.


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