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Obama Boosts U.S. Image Throughout World, Except In Israel

First Posted: 08/23/09 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 02:40 PM ET

Obamaberlin

A major new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that there have been moderate signs of improvement in the attitudes of predominantly Muslim countries toward the United States since the election of President Barack Obama.

Still, for the most part, the study's authors conclude that, "The opinions among Muslims in the Middle East remain largely unfavorable."

Among the 25 countries, in which public opinions were surveyed, only one exhibited a less favorable opinion of the United States: Israel.

Conducted in Argentina, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, the Palestinian Territories, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Turkey and the United States, the survey has a whole host of interesting data points.

The headlines include:

The United States' approval ratings in Western Europe have risen to pre-Bush levels.

In Western countries -- England, France, Germany and Spain -- it is a nearly universally held belief that President Obama will "do the right thing in world affairs." Whereas only 16 percent, 13 percent, 14 percent and 8 percent of those respective countries' populations said the same thing about former President George W. Bush in 2008.

The favorability ratings of the United States, the study concludes, are "driven much more by personal confidence in Obama than by his specific policies."

The United States' image in Israel took a hit following President Obama's foreign policy address in Cairo, according to the survey. America's 76 percent favorability rating in the Jewish state fell to 63 percent following the president's speech, when he called for dual sacrifice and responsibility in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, while 60 percent of Israelis said they were confident in Obama's leadership before the Cairo speech, just 49 percent were confident after the address.

On the flipside, the number of Palestinians who said that Obama would consider their interests when making policy rose from 27 percent before the speech to 39 percent after.

Finally, in what is at once a remarkable and depressing statistic, for the first time in the Pew survey, an American president is more popular than Osama bin Laden in most Muslim nations. In Jordan, for example, 30 percent of the populace says they are confident in Obama, 28 percent say they are confident in bin Laden. Just 7 percent of Jordanians said they were confident in Bush in 2008.

That said, the world's-most-wanted terrorist does enjoy higher confidence ratings than Obama in Pakistan (18 percent to 13 percent) and the Palestinian territories (52 percent to 22 percent).

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Filed by Sam Stein  |