A new opinion poll suggests that a quarter of all American citizens have no idea who Benjamin Netanyahu is, have never heard of his name and don't know what he wants. The poll by the View Institute also revealed that of those who have heard of the Israeli prime minister, 38 per cent hold positive views about him, with just 27 per cent having a negative opinion.
The results of the poll showed that there is a gap between the support of Republicans and Democrats for Netanyahu: 53 per cent of those who identified themselves as Republicans said they had a favourable opinion of Netanyahu, with 21 per cent being negative; the balance had no opinion either way. On the other hand, among those who said they are Democrats, 28 per cent expressed support for the Israeli leader and 38 per cent had reservations about him.
Israel's Globes newspaper commented on the poll, saying that it puts things into perspective in the context of the "fuss" in the media fuss about Netanyahu's visit to Washington. "Israel is not the centre of the world," it said, "and Netanyahu is not a sun around which planets revolve, and the world still goes on as normal even when the prime minister of the government of Israel plans to shake the pillars of Congress by his fiery speech about what horrifies him in the Middle East."
Another poll published by the Wall Street Journal reported that 48 per cent of Americans object to the way in which Netanyahu has been invited to deliver a speech in Congress without coordination with the White House. Only 30 per cent support the step taken by the Chairman of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives, Joe Boehner, who extended the invitation to Netanyahu. Around 22 per cent said that they have no opinion about Netanyahu's visit.
As with the View Institute poll, there are differences of opinion along party lines. Around two-thirds of Democrats oppose the idea of Netanyahu speaking to Congress without any coordination with the White House, whereas only 28 per cent of Republicans take the same view.