Before Speech to Congress, Israel's Netanyahu Seen as More Favorable Than Obama in U.S.

March 2nd, 2015 7:17 PM

Ever since House Speaker John Boehner in mid-January invited Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's current prime minister, to speak before both chambers of Congress on Tuesday, March 3, the White House and most members of the press have slammed the fact that the Ohio Republican didn't consult the president before extending the offer, which many Democrats and White House officials have interpreted as an effort to undermine Obama's diplomatic negotiations with Iran.

However, the months of relentless attacks have instead boosted Netanyahu's favorability rating in America, where nearly twice as many people view Israel's leader positively (45 percent) as negatively (24 percent).

Also in Gallup's most recent poll, the president's job approval sat at 44 percent positive -- almost the same as Netanyahu -- but 51 percent negative, twice the standing of the Israeli prime minister.

Netanyahu's current favorable status ties his highest rating in the six times Gallup has measured it, spanning his three tenures as prime minister. Since 2012, The Israeli leader's positive rating has jumped a full 10 points, while his unfavorable listing has risen an insignificant 1 percent.

In addition, fewer Americans have no opinion of Netanyahu today than in 2012, with 31 percent versus 41 percent, respectively, either saying they are unsure or have never heard of him.

The Gallup survey also indicated that -- though the American public in general views Netanyahu more favorably than unfavorably -- there are sharp party differences in these views.

Republicans are much more likely to view Netanyahu positively (60 percent) than negatively (18 percent), while Democrats are evenly divided in their views of him: 31 percent favorable and 31 percent unfavorable. Independents' favorable ratings of Netanyahu are twice as high as their unfavorable ratings.

These developments are taking place at a time when the prime minister is expected to make a forceful case against any agreement the U.S. and five other nations might strike to limit Iran's nuclear program:

As something of a preview regarding what he intends to say to Congress on Tuesday, Netanyahu delivered a speech before the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference on Monday in Washington, D.C

At one point, the prime minister said: “My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds.”

Netanyahu also said that “Iran is the foremost state-sponsor of terrorism in the world” before pointing out a graph that showed “Iran training, arming, dispatching terrorists on five continents” and charging that the nation “envelops the entire world with its tentacles of terror.”

“This is what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons,” he continued. “Imagine what Iran would do with nuclear weapons.”

“I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there is still time to avert them,” Netanyahu continued. “For 2,000 years, my people -- the Jewish people -- were stateless, defenseless, voiceless. ... Today, we are no longer silent. Today we have a voice. And tomorrow, as prime minister of the one and only Jewish state, I plan to use that voice.”

Also on Monday, John Nolte, editor-at-large of the website, stated:

Despite months of relentless attacks coming from president Obama, his White House and his sycophants in the mainstream media, here in America, Benjamin Netanyahu has seen a boost in his favorability rating.

Netanyahu’s jump in approval is a massive failure for a mainstream media that has red-lined in its attempts to derail Netanyahu’s much-anticipated Tuesday speech.

“The very same media that champions Obama’s lawless crusades around Congress is now comically furious over a breach of diplomatic protocol that saw House Speaker John Boehner invite Netanyahu to speak without first alerting  … a president who his currently writing the laws he wants and violating his Constitutional oath by refusing to enforce those he doesn’t,” Nolte stated.

“The media did everything in its power to promote a failed boycott of the speech by Democratic lawmakers (so far, only about 10 percent have refused to attend),” he added, “and to paint those who support Netanyahu’s speech as disloyal to president Obama, and by extension, America.”

According to a blog written by Natalie Andrews on the Wall Street Journal website, only about 30 members of the Senate and the House of Representatives have indicated that they will not attend Netanyahu's speech.

Regarding the Gallup poll, that survey was based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 8-11 with a random sample of 837 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.