What Do Israelis Really Think About Trump, Clinton and Bernie?

March 7, 2016

2 min read

A majority of Israeli Jews believe that Donald Trump would be a friend to Israel if he were elected president, according to a recent poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI).

The poll found that 61 percent of Israeli Jews believe Trump would be “very friendly” or “moderately friendly” to Israel, while a mere 14 percent said they believed he would be “not so friendly” or “not at all friendly”.

The IDI poll also found that between the two Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Clinton was the preferred choice, with 40.5 percent of those polled saying she would be better for Israel and only 16.5 percent choosing Sanders despite his being the first Jewish presidential candidate in history to have won a US presidential primary.

Overall, a higher percentage of Israeli Jews felt a Republican candidate would be better for Israel, with 34 percent expressing that view and only 28 percent saying they believed a Democrat would be preferable. 13 percent said that it would make no difference.

Israel has figured large in the ongoing contentious presidential race, with Republicans Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio fighting to prove that they would fully support Israel and frontrunner Trump saying he would be “neutral” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, Trump is seen by many as the most “Israeli” candidate, sharing the sometimes grating characteristics that Israelis are known for – aggression, bluntness, and arrogance, among others. The traits, while many view them negatively, indicate strength and toughness, qualities Israelis believe are necessary for wading into the Middle East conflict.

Many Israelis like Trump simply by virtue of the fact that he is the polar opposite of Barack Obama, for whom little love is lost in the Jewish state.

As for the first viable presidential Jewish candidate in US history, Bernie Sanders, Israelis consider him among the worst choices for a pro-Israel president.

Sanders has alienated Jews by continually downplaying his Jewish heritage on the campaign trail, leading moderator Anderson Cooper to ask him during Sunday night’s Democratic debate if he had been doing so intentionally.

The self-proclaimed socialist candidate denied it, insisting, “I am very proud of being Jewish and that is an essential part of who I am as a human being.”

However, Jews are wary of Sanders’ attitudes towards Israel, which he has not said he will support. One campaign website states, “Bernie is Jewish, but he does not favor Israel over the Palestinians, nor does he otherwise let his religion influence his positions regarding the conflict.”

It adds that Sanders is “not a big supporter of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and believes that diplomacy, not military action or economic sanctions, can keep Israel safe from Iran.”

Sanders is unlikely to win the Democratic nomination, however, having won less than half of the number of delegates held by Clinton. Like Biblical Korach, who tried to raise a rebellion against Moses, Sanders’ rush to start a “political revolution” and leave his people behind in his wake seems fated to come to an unfortunate end.

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