I spent some time over the weekend going through a fascinating poll by the Democratic polling outfit Greenberg, Quinlan and Rosner that interviewed 1,009 Palestinian adults, 656 in the West Bank and 353 in Gaza. It is, to say the least, a mixed bag. I’d encourage readers to look through the entire poll, but I’ll highlight a few of the findings.
Large majorities favor the attempt to gain a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations. But interestingly, a plurality (44 percent) think it will make no difference in bringing about a Palestinian state.
On priorities, 83 percent think Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas should focus on jobs, 36 percent say he should concentrate on health care and 23 percent want schools to be the priority. Issues having to do with Israel are in single digits, except for 18 percent who want to build up institutions to become a Palestinian state.
Hamas has lost popularity in Gaza, and in all the territories Fatah dramatically outpaces Hamas in popularity.
Unfortunately, the desire for a better life and the distaste for Hamas do not translate into positive views of Jews or the Jewish state. Strong majorities do favor negotiation over violent resistance, although the latter is still supported by about a third of Palestinians. And a majority say Palestinian leaders should favor a two-state solution, but then a majority says they personally will NOT accept a two-state solution. Then there are these results:
Over 60 percent reject “two states for two peoples.”
A one-state Palestinian solution is favored by a majority.
Two-thirds believe the real goal should be to move to a single Palestinian state.
Seventy-two percent think it is right to deny a Jewish presence going back thousands of years in Jerusalem.
Sixty-two percent favor kidnapping Israeli soldiers and holding them hostage.
Sixty-one percent approve naming streets after a suicide bomber.
Fifty-three percent favor teaching songs and chants to schoolchildren that talk about hating Jews.
Only a plurality thinks the Itamar killings were wrong; 29 percent think they were right.
Ninety-two percent think Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine; only 3 percent favor a joint capital.
Well, it seems the Salam Fayyad plan — building economic institutions and improving the life of Palestinians — is in keeping with Palestinian opinion. But the hope that these measures in turn would promote acceptance of a Jewish state has not panned out. The notion that both sides want two states living side-by-side in peace is frankly inaccurate. It badly underestimates the challenges for Israel and for the “peace process.”
And a final note: a Pew poll of opinion in Muslim countries finds:
Ratings for Jews are uniformly low in the predominantly Muslim nations surveyed — in all seven of these nations, less than 10% have a positive opinion of Jews. Indeed, outside of Indonesia, less than 5% offer a positive opinion.
Among Israel’s minority Muslim community, however, views are divided: 48% express a positive opinion of Jews, while 49% offer a negative opinion. In contrast, only 9% of Israeli Jews have a positive view of Muslims. Christians receive somewhat higher ratings among Israeli Muslims (67% favorable) than among Israeli Jews (51%).
As for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: “When asked whether they think groups of Arabs carried out the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., most Muslims in the nations surveyed say they do not believe this. There is no Muslim public in which even 30% accept that Arabs conducted the attacks. Indeed, Muslims in Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey are less likely to accept this today than in 2006.”
Those who contend that Middle East diplomacy is purely about Palestinian attitudes toward Israel and the contours of two states should look at the facts. It is very much about hating Jews.