Secretary Rice fails as amateur pollster
Dr. Aaron Lerner
Date: 15 November 2007
It seems that every time U.S. Secretary of State Rice or Israel President Shimon Peres make public remarks about the Arab Israeli conflict they don their amateur pollster's caps and proclaim that the Israeli street supports the measures that they advocate.
And they are wrong.
Now it could very well be that most of the English speaking Israelis that Ms. Rice encounters are eager for a "land for piece" (of paper) deal and certainly Mr. Peres' acolytes may share his virtual reality take on the situation. But you can't gauge the attitude of the street by relying on such a skewed sample.
Polls are far from exact tools in measuring public opinion, but they are magnitudes more accurate than the Rice-Peres straw polls.
One of the most fascinating findings of polls of the Israeli public is the consistent response to the following basic question:
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Most of the Palestinians have not accepted Israel's existence and would destroy it if they could."
Here are the results for Israeli Jews polled in the Peace Index October 29-30 poll:Agree a lot 44.5%Again, the question didn't read "the Palestinians would like to destroy Israel if they don't get a sovereign Palestinian state". It didn't even say "the Palestinians would like to destroy Israel if all their demands are not met."
Considerably agree 20.2%
Considerably disagree 11.2%
Disagree a lot 7.9%
Don't know/No reply 3.0%
Rice confuses Fatah for the NAACP and keeps on thinking that if the Palestinians would just be given a sovereign state and "dignity" (which apparently means not being subject to vital Israeli security operations) that peace would reign eternally . Peres continues to doggedly adhere to his flush toilet theory of peace, arguing essentially that the ideological drive to destroy the Jewish State can be neutralized via an improved living standard.
But that's not what the Israeli street thinks.
The Israeli public, at least when it stops for a moment to think, views policy issues through the prism of the fundamental truth that Rice and Peres deny: that regardless of what concessions we make, most of the Palestinians have not accepted Israel's existence and would destroy it if they could.
Sure, the "Dumbo" questions can get some respondents to say that they support withdrawals in return for "real peace". But "real peace" is hardly guaranteed by the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state (and, Dumbo's ears can flap enough to make the elephant fly).
That's why the Peace Index found that 59% oppose, in exchange for a peace agreement, transferring the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty so that they can serve as the capital of Palestine (33% support it).
A Maagar Mohot poll of Israeli Jews 18-26 October (commissioned by the Israel Policy Center for Promoting Parliamentary Democracy and Jewish Values in Israeli Public Life) released this week is chock-a-bloc with similar results:
In light of the current situation of the PA, do you support or oppose that Israel should commit to transfer parts of Jerusalem to Palestinian control??Oppose 69% Maybe 11% Support 17% Other replies 3%In light of the current situation of the PA, do you support or oppose that Israel should commit to remove the IDF from most of Judea and Samaria, and transfer it to Palestinian control?Oppose 61% Maybe 15% Support 22% Other replies 2%In light of the experience with the disengagement, do you support or oppose that Israel should commit to a mass evacuation of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria?Oppose 65% Maybe 13% Support 19% Other replies 3%Do you agree or disagree with the claim that in light of the experience of the past Israel should deal with the Palestinians with a tougher approach and not seek simple ways to solve the Israel-Arab conflict?Agree 65% Disagree 28% Other replies 7%And it goes on.
No. The Israeli street doesn't share the convictions of either Ms. Rice or Mr. Peres.
They can argue their positions. But they certainly have no business claiming that it is the voice of the Israeli street.
Friday, November 16, 2007
IMRA: Secretary Rice Fails As Amateur Pollster
Dr. Lerner makes the same point that I made (in Condoleezza Rice--Making It Up As She Goes Along), only more forcefully, that when Condoleezza Rice claims to have the numbers to back up this desperate rush for peace--she doesn't. Dr. Lerner also gives an insight into what Israelis are really thinking.