Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Sivan 5766 - June 8, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Europeans Don't Believe Palestinians Any More

by M Plaut

European support for the Palestinians has dropped dramatically according to American poll expert Stan Greenberg who has studied recent European attitudes towards Israel and the Palestinians. According to an article this week in the Jerusalem Post by Editor-in-Chief David Horovitz who spoke with Greenberg about the findings that he has been presenting to Israeli leaders, loss of faith in the Palestinians has not been accompanied by renewed support for Israel.

Greenberg conducted the surveys for the Israel Project, a US- based nonprofit organization. He said that he was so surprised by some of the results that he repeated some of the sampling to be sure that there was no mistake.

In France, for example, as recently as three years ago, 60 percent said they supported one side in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, and eighty percent of those taking sides backed the Palestinians. In the recent poll, 60 percent said that they took no side in the conflict, and among those who did support one side, only forty percent took the side of the Palestinians.

Greenberg was not yet ready to release the full details, but he said that it is clear that the results show a dramatic change that has taken place extremely rapidly. Much of the "old sense of hostility" towards Israel had dissipated, he told Horovitz.

The Palestinians are now seen within the context of the larger issue of fundamentalist Islam and the way it is having a direct impact on France in its daily life, with its millions of resident Moslems. In the past the Israeli- Palestinian conflict was seen more in the abstract, as a "post-colonial" issue, with Israel cast as the colonizer and the Palestinians as the victims.

The Europeans are now asking themselves, "Who is the moderate in this conflict, and who is the extremist?" Against the backdrop of the worldwide Islamic movement, they are beginning to see the Palestinians as the extremists, and also as allied with the other extremists, some of whom threaten Europe itself as witnessed in the extensive riots last fall.

The perception of which side held "absolute," uncompromising positions has also shifted to Israel's benefit. The change in attitudes, according to Greenberg, was helped by the fact that former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who had been widely regarded as an ideological "absolutist," surprised Europe with his disengagement initiative. And at the same time as Sharon was preparing to withdraw settlers, the Palestinians chose Hamas as their leadership. As Israel painfully withdrew from Gaza, the Palestinian leadership still spoke of bloody conflict.

As reported elsewhere in this issue, even in France there is a new foundation, Fondation France-Israel, to promote cooperation in high-tech investment, research, industry, and other areas.

An opinion poll for the Israel Project among "opinion elites" in the US released last month found that 80 percent believed that US should not fund the Palestinian Authority until its Hamas-led government renounced violence, recognized Israel and ended terrorism. Asked if they considered themselves supporters of Israel or supporters of the Palestinians, 58 percent in that survey said they backed Israel, while 10 percent said they supported the Palestinians. Another 33 percent said they supported neither side, were undecided or didn't know.


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