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Solid support for Romney among US voters in Israel

Associated Press Modified: November 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm •  Published: November 5, 2012

JERUSALEM (AP) — American expatriates in Israel are lining up strongly behind Republican candidate Mitt Romney, in contrast to their fellow Jews back in the U.S., according to a survey.

It's an example of their different priorities and perceptions of U.S. policy.

While American Jews have long backed Democratic presidential candidates, American immigrants in the Jewish state are staunchly Republican. One recent survey estimated that more than four-fifths of expatriate voters here cast absentee ballots for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

"I hope and pray that Romney will win and he will do what he says he will do," said Paula Markowitz, a Jerusalem resident originally from Teaneck, New Jersey. "(President Barack) Obama is no good for Israel, no good for the Jews, no good for America."

Most Americans who immigrate to Israel are religious Jews who tend to hold socially conservative views typical of Republicans. Their backing for Romney also reflects a general trend in Israel, where Obama is widely viewed with suspicion.

Obama's early gestures toward the Muslim world raised concerns in Israel, along with his decision to bypass Israel after delivering a landmark speech in neighboring Egypt in 2009. Since then, he has clashed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a variety of sensitive issues.

"Most Israelis like Obama as a person but are very suspicious about his policies toward Israel, Iran, the Arab Spring, and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations," said Eytan Gilboa, an expert on American-Israeli relations at Bar-Ilan University. "They don't know much about Romney, but they feel he could better accommodate Israeli interests and causes."

Obama's staunch support for Israeli security has done little to change minds.

A survey by iVoteIsrael, a nonpartisan get-out-the-vote organization, found that 85 percent of American voters in Israel cast absentee ballots for Romney. The group polled 1,572 U.S. expatriates between Oct. 22 and 24, and said the survey had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

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