Sunday, June 04, 2006

Palestinian Support `Crashes` in Europe

That's the headline for an article in the Jerusalem Post:
New public opinion surveys conducted among "opinion elites" in Europe show that support for the Palestinians has fallen precipitously, according to a leading international pollster, Stan Greenberg, who has been briefing Israeli leaders on his findings in the past few days. There has not necessarily been "a rush to Israel" but there has been a "crash" in backing for the Palestinians, he noted.
According to Greenberg, there is less of a sense of hostility as well.

Why the change?

According to the article, there are 2 reasons:

1. Until recently, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was viewed "in a post-colonial framework."

In a post back in February, I quoted an article by Hillel Halkin in Commentary (Israel's Media Problem), where he wrote:
the Zionist narrative, as gripping as it may seem to those who tell it as their own, is not, when set against the Palestinian narrative that opposes it, terribly convincing in an age that has a short attention span and distrusts the claims of history.
Well, it turns out that there is one sure way to overcome a short attention span--a strong self-interest in survival. Apparently, in Europe they now "are focused on fundamentalist Islam and its impact on them." Go figure. As a result of their new-found insight, Europeans are now--according to Greenberg--thinking "maybe the Palestinians are not the colonialist victims" after all.

2. According to the pollster, there was a change in viewing who was the uncompromising "absolutist". Greenberg believs this change was accelerated by Sharon's turnaround in carrying out the Disengagement, while the Palestinian Arabs voted in Hamas as their new leaders.

Of course, none of this apparent change in attitude seems to be reflected in the media in Europe--and of course as Greenberg made clear, the decline in how Europe views the Palestininas has not translated into a surge in pro-Israel sentitment.

That makes sense: if the main force at play is European reaction to fundamental Islamism and violence, there would not necessarily be an increased favorable view towards Israel--unless Israel is perceived as an ally in the fight against terrorism in general and Islamism in particular.

The other possibility might be that Europe decides to just be done with the whole region--which will do nothing to address the problem that has settled all over the continent. At least it would allow Israel a freer hand to deal with the Palestinian terrorists--if she would only take advantage of the opportunity.

One question is--what exactly are the proportions of this 'crash' in support for the Palestinians? According to the article, Greenberg:

He singled out France as the country where attitudes had changed most dramatically. Three years ago, 60 percent of French respondents said they took a side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and of that 60%, four out of five backed the Palestinians. Today, by contrast, 60% of French respondents did not take a side in the conflict, and support for the Palestinians had dropped by half among those who did express a preference.

But how many other European countries have shown a similar change in attitude? And are the numbers if France indicative of the degree of change that is occuring elsewhere?

One other thing: who are these "opinion elites" that Greenberg polled? And to what extent do their opinons reflect the opinions of 'the man in the street', who thus far have been described as being anti-Semitic in his sentiments?

Crossposted at Israpundit

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