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Polls Indicate No Israeli Or US Consensus Favoring Military Attack On Iran

Richard Silverstein
March 2, 2012

As Bibi Netanyahu heads to Washington for yet another in an endless series of consultations of dubious utility with Barack Obama, followed by yet another appeal to the worshipful multitudes at Aipac’s national conference, it’s important to note that opinion polls both in the U.S. and Israel confirm there is no consensus within either country supporting war against Iran.

In the NY Times report on Bibi’s coming visit, Zalman Shoval falsely claims:

“Public opinion polls in America are about 50-50 on whether America should take a role in an eventual military operation against Iran. This is not the main element in a decision, but it will have some influence on the candidate, who happens to be president.”

Here are some recent U.S. poll findings on the subject.  A February 2012 CNN poll finds that only 17% of Americans favor a U.S. attack now, while 60% favor sanctions with no military attack now.  22% favor taking no action at all.  In a February Pew survey, 64% of Americans said that sanctions will not work.  58% said they would favor military action if it was the only way to prevent Iran from getting a bomb.  30% said they opposed a strike even if meant Iran got a nuclear weapon.

A 2010 CNN survey found only 36% favored a military attack if sanctions did not work, while 39% favored no military action.  71% of those polled believe (falsely) that Iran already has nuclear weapons.

A Pew poll in January 2011 said that 50% of Americans favored taking a “firm stand” against Iran, while 40% favored avoiding a military conflict.  A November CBS survey found that only 15% of Americans favored military action against Iran now, while 55% believed that Iran could be contained by diplomacy, rather than force.

Now for Israeli public opinion: Shibley Telhami’s latest University of Maryland poll of Israeli public opinion finds that only 19% favor an attack that is against the will of the U.S.  42% would favor an attack with U.S. support.  34% oppose a strike regardless of whether there is U.S. support.

22% believe that if Israel did attack it would delay the Iranian nuclear program by more than five years.  Even the most hawkish Israeli generals and politicians claim it will delay the program by a year or possibly two.  11% believe it would accelerate the Iranian WMD program, which is what a number of analysts suspect will happen.

27% of Israelis believe that if Israel did attack against the U.S.’ wishes, the latter would join the war against Iran nonetheless, while 39% believe the U.S. would support Israel diplomatically but not militarily.

29% of Israelis believe, against the explicit guarantee of hawks like Ehud Barak and Moshe Yaalon, that a war would take “months.”  22% believe it would last “years,” a particularly grim finding.

44% of Israelis believe an attack by their country would strengthen the Iranian regime.

While Israelis are evenly split in their preference between Obama and Romney as future president, they favor Obama by 33% to 18% over Rick Santorum.  They even favor Obama over Newt Gingrich (32% to 25%), which is surprising considering that Sheldon Adelson’s Yisrael HaYom, Israel’s most popular daily, is shilling for Gingrich virtually every day in its pages.


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