Only Americans Support Bush More Than Israelis, International Survey Shows

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:13 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israel is America's best and most supportive friend in the world, while a majority of those in Jordan - considered a strong American ally in the Middle East - see America as more dangerous than al Qaeda, Iran or Syria, the results of an international poll show.

More than 11,000 people in 11 selected countries around the world were surveyed in May and June of this year, asking them about their attitudes toward America, its foreign and economic policy, its culture and its military might.

The results of the poll were aired on Tuesday evening on the BBC and the Internet as part of the British Broadcasting Corporation special, What the World Thinks of America.

Israel and Jordan, the two countries chosen to represent the Middle East in the survey, answered at the opposite ends of the spectrum on most questions.

Israel, often isolated in the international community except for support from the U.S., is one of the best friends America has, the poll showed.

Jordan, recipient of more than $225 million in American economic and military aid annually, had some of the most negative responses to America, according to the poll.

Only Americans showed greater support for President Bush than Israel, where 62 percent of the respondents said they were favorable toward Bush, as opposed to 82 percent of Jordanians who said they were less favorable to the president.

"How would you say you feel toward America?" one question asked. Seventy-two percent of Israelis said they were favorable, while 25 percent said they were less favorable. In Jordan, the numbers were the opposite; 19 percent said they were favorable toward America and 79 percent less favorable.

The Jordanian responses to those questions were the lowest of all the countries polled.

Specific statistics from the poll on Israel and Jordan, provided to by the BBC in London, showed that 65 percent of Israelis agree with America's policy on terrorism, while 33 percent disagree with it.

In Jordan, 8 percent of respondents said they agreed with America's policy on terrorism, and 83 percent said they disagreed.

(Neutral responses account for the difference in percentage points.)

When asked, "Based on what you know, do you yourself agree with American policy on Israel and Palestine?" 44 percent of Israelis said they agreed, while 50 percent said they disagreed.

In Jordan, where some 60 percent of the population is Palestinian, only 5 percent agreed with American policy, and 95 percent disagreed with it.

Some 71 percent of Israelis said they were favorable to the statement, "America is a force for good in the world," while 28 percent said they were less favorable. Among Jordanians, 10 percent said they were favorable to the statement, while 89 percent said they were less favorable.

Fewer Israelis than Americans said they agreed with the statement, "America scares me." Only 17 percent of Israelis said they agreed with the statement, while 20 percent of Americans agreed with it and 22 percent of Jordanians agreed.

But as far as agreement on the statement, "America is a beacon of hope and opportunity," 75 percent of Israelis said they agreed, while 24 percent said they disagreed; 20 percent of Jordanians agreed, while 79 percent of Jordanians disagreed.

In four separate questions, participants were asked who is more dangerous, America or North Korea, al Qaeda, or Iran or Syria.

In each case, more than 70 percent of Jordanians said that America was more dangerous than any of the four. About 70 percent of Israelis responded that the other entities were more dangerous than America.

Both North Korea and Iran were included by President Bush in what he calls the "Axis of Evil" for their pursuit of the development of nuclear weapons, while Syria is considered a state sponsor of terrorism and al Qaeda is on the State Department list of terrorist organizations.

When asked whether America was "right or wrong" to invade Iraq, more Israelis than Americans said America was right, while Jordan again was at the bottom of the list. Some 79 percent of Israelis said the U.S. was right, while 74 percent of Americans and only 7 percent of Jordanians said it was right for America to invade Iraq.

In an overview of the Israeli results, Jacob Eilon from Israel's Channel 10, who presented the results on the BBC program, said: "The relationship between the United States and Israel, known here as 'the friendship,' goes back to shortly after the birth of the Jewish nation.

"It is a mixture of strategic, economic, military and cultural closeness that has dominated Israeli society since the 1950s.

"As a whole, Israelis feel close to American culture, consumer products, music, movies and values. Many Israelis have relatives living overseas, and young Israeli men and women find it almost obligatory to spend some time in New York or in one of the U.S. universities," Eilon said in comments on the BBC's website.

Al Jazeera's Lamees Al Hadidi, who presented the results of the Jordanian poll, explained the position of Jordan in the Arab world.

"Trapped between the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Iraqi-Gulf conflict, Jordanian relations with the U.S. have been subject to extreme changes," Al Hadidi said.

"Throughout much of its history, Jordan has been a pro-Western, modernizing country that has adopted moderate policies on most regional issues.

"Its small size and lack of major economic resources have made it dependent on aid from Western and neighboring Arab countries, which presents a dilemma: whether to adopt American policies or look out for Arab interests," she said.

"Jordan's geographic position - wedged between Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia - has made it vulnerable to the strategic designs of its more powerful neighbors but has also given Jordan an important role as a buffer between these potential adversaries.

"This, and other reasons, led the U.S. to depend on Jordan and on its late King Hussein, then his son, King Abdullah, to help sustain its policies in the Middle East," Al Hadidi said.

Nevertheless, good political and economic ties "do not reflect the mood in the Jordanian street," she said, which is tainted by perceived American support for Israel and anger over what happened in Iraq.

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