March 22, 2012 | 8:18 am
This month, I think the key is to look at statement #4 in question #1 of our Israel Factor survey (questionnaire here, full stats here). There is broad agreement among many of our panelists that Israel “can’t act in Iran without Obama’s consent”.
Seven out of our 10 panelists voted with a 4 or a 5 (out of 5) on this question (yes – 10 panelists. There are some changes in the panel: Ambassador Dore Gold asked to be released of panel duty after six years, and two new panelists were added, Mark Heller of INSS, and Jonathan Rynhold of Bar-Ilan University). The seven panelists do not believe that Israel can launch an attack on Iran without reaching some kind of understanding with President Obama. In other words, they don’t really buy the subtle threat hidden repeatedly in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speeches.
The panel does not believe that there is a crisis in US-Israel relations. There might be a debate between the countries over Iran, but this is not a crisis (only two panelists gave this statement 3 or more).
And more: The panel doesn’t think President Obama is motivated by political considerations when he opposes an attack on Iran (just one panelist gave this statement a score of greater than 3). The panel doesn’t even agree that “Israel can’t trust Obama to halt Iran’s nuclear program”.
This month, apparently, the panel is a panel of believers. Only three panelists are still highly suspicious of Obama’s trustworthiness (scoring it 4 or more), while the other seven are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Only two of our 10 panelists didn’t think Obama’s speech proved “that he is very supportive of Israel”.
Hence, Obama’s improving standings with the panel compared to other presidential candidates. Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are practically tied in this survey of the Factor, and Newt Gingrich keeps declining, either because he is no longer seen as a viable candidate, or because of the views he shares with his dwindling cadre of supporters.
Here’s the Obama-Romney-Gingrich rankings of the last six years, followed by a few more comments:
1. Rick Santorum, a staunch supporter of Israel, is getting poor marks from our panel. Just one panelist gave him more than a 7, while three panelists gave him less than a 3. Our panel – and should be understood by the readers – does not only consider a candidate’s views on Israel. If the panel believes that a candidate is not good for America, it will not consider him to be good for Israel, even if the candidate has all the right views on Israel.
2. The panel is relatively happy with the support Israel is getting from Congress (7.56 out of ten), the two parties, and the Obama administration (6.78). It doesn’t seem to think that there’s an urgent need to replace Obama with a more friendly president. Is Romney better than Obama for Israel? Barely (2.67 out of 5).
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