Raphael Ahren
July 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel alone in a poll of 25 nations has decreased its approval of the United States since President Barack Obama took office earlier this year, according to a recent survey.

"The image of the United States has improved markedly in most parts of the world, reflecting global confidence in Barack Obama," states the Pew Global Attitudes survey, which was released last Thursday. "In many countries opinions of the United States are now about as positive as they were at the beginning of the decade before George W. Bush took office ... Israel stands out in the poll as the only public among the 25 surveyed where the current U.S. rating is lower than in past surveys."

These statements are based on polls taken in Israel in 2003, 2007 and 2009. During the previous two polls, 78 percent of respondents expressed favorable views toward the U.S. In the recent poll, the number dropped to 71 percent.

Polls were also taken in the Palestinian territories, where two years ago 13 percent of respondents looked favorably upon the U.S., compared to 15 percent who do so in this year's poll. Only respondents in Turkey expressed less approval, with 14 percent. In the Middle East, the Lebanese look most favorably upon the U.S. (55 percent), compared to 27 and 28 percent of Egyptians and Jordanians, respectively. In Kenya (where Obama's father was born) nine out of 10 respondents expressed positive feelings for the U.S. Interestingly, in pre-Bush times the figure was even higher.

Israel's approval ratings for its biggest ally roughly resembles those of other Western countries. While France's favorableness toward the U.S. stood at 75 percent - up from 62 percent in 2002 - Canadians and the British look less favorably upon the States than Israelis do, with 68 and 69 percent respectively.

The survey, published by the Pew Research Center, also provides data on the impact of Obama's speech in Cairo, during which he reached out to the Muslim world. "Full surveys" were conducted in Israel and the Palestinian territories both before and after the June 4 speech. An analysis suggests the speech had "a more negative impact on attitudes toward America among Israelis than it had a positive one among Palestinians," the survey states. While before the speech, more than three-quarters of Israelis had a "favorable" view of the U.S., after the speech the number dropped to 63 percent. Among Palestinians, the approval rating climbed five points to 19 percent.


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