The February 2012 Israeli Public Opinion Survey

On Wednesday, February 29, Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and nonresident senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, released the 2012 Israeli Public Opinion Survey. The poll surveyed 500 people living in Israel in February 2012, assessing opinions on Iran and U.S. politics. The findings below reflect responses among all Israeli citizens; the attached PDF also shows responses among Israeli Jews only.

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Key Findings:


  • A plurality of Israelis (42%) would support a military strike by Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities only if Israel gains American support for the strike. An additional 34% of Israelis would not support such a strike at all, while 19% say Israel should strike even without the support of the U.S.
  • 51% of Israelis think a military strike against Iran would delay Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, while 11% think it would accelerate Iran’s nuclear program and 19% say it would have no effect at all.
  • Despite America’s recommendation that Israel not strike Iran, a full two-thirds of Israelis believe the U.S. government would support Israel in some manner if such a strike were to occur — 27% say that the U.S. would join the war on Israel’s behalf, while an additional 39% believe that the U.S. would support Israel diplomatically, but not provide military assistance.
  • Israelis are divided on the likely duration of any armed conflict with Iran. 18% of Israelis say that such a conflict would only last days, 19% say that it would be a matter of weeks, 29% say that the conflict would last for months and 22% say that the conflict would last for years.
  • Israelis are evenly divided on whether a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would strengthen or weaken the government in Tehran. 44% say that the Iranian government would be strengthened, while 45% say that it would be weakened.
  • By a wide majority (68%), Israelis say that Hezbollah would join Iran in retaliation if a military strike were to occur.

U.S. Politics

  • In hypothetical match-ups against Barack Obama, Mitt Romney is the preferred Republican candidate among Israeli citizens, garnering 29% support. Newt Gingrich is the next-highest at 25%, followed by Ron Paul (21%) and Rick Santorum (18%). In the match-ups, Barack Obama ties Mitt Romney and outperforms all other Republican candidates.