Palestinan opinions
December 8, 2004 4:46 PM   Subscribe

Palestinian opinions. A poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center indicates a dramatic decline in Palestinian support for acts of violence targeting Israelis. For the first time since the outbreak of the intifada in September 2000, a majority of Palestinians, some 52%, oppose violence against Israel. Palestinian opposition to attacks on Israelis is up 25% since last June. Original report is here in pdf. Is the intifada finished? If so should Arafat be awarded a second Nobel Peace Prize for dying?
posted by Ugandan Discussions (25 comments total)
Maybe they are just realizing that they'll eventually prevail through sheer number?
posted by undule at 4:57 PM on December 8, 2004

none of the other responses in the report support your snide comment about arafat, apart from a very small (1.5%) margin saying that his death will help the peace process. in general, he seems to be missed - more palestinians believe that his death has made a palestinian homeland (the favoured outcome) less, rather than more, likely and about 1/3 are predicting internal chaos.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:58 PM on December 8, 2004

If anyone gets a Peace Prize, it probably won't be Sharon.
posted by AlexReynolds at 4:59 PM on December 8, 2004

While it is nice to know that the Palestinians have figured out that when you are losing the game, it is wise to change the rules. It might be noted that Saddam is no longer around to hand out 25 thousand bucks to each suicide bomber's family...but though the trend is important, one heck of a lot of folks still want the Intifada to continue. Sort of the difference here between the perecentage of voters for Bush and for Kerry...hardly massive support for peace as solution. A two-state solution is not what many Israeelils want. And so too, many Arabs. But it is what will probably happen, and this may alter much in the region.
posted by Postroad at 5:09 PM on December 8, 2004

There might be 52% in that poll who have concluded that the intifada isn't doing much in the way of improving Palestinians' way of life, but Marwan Barghouthi is advocating terrorism and polling strong against his main opponant, Mahmoud Abbas. According to this article, though, posted about an hour ago, Barghouthi might be about to drop out if Abbas meets certain demands.

Anyway, it's probably easier for Palestinians to admit to a pollster that terrorism isn't a good idea than to actually go and vote against a candidate who supports terrorism. When you feel like you're under attack, sober analysis often takes a back seat to violence and jingoism...
posted by ibmcginty at 5:11 PM on December 8, 2004

Andrew Cooke: have a look at Question 10. 1/3 think that the departure of Arafat will, "increase the opportunities towards the resumption of the peace process." You are wrong.
posted by Ugandan Discussions at 5:12 PM on December 8, 2004

Just came across this, posted article two days ago:
A top PA official has reiterated the end-goal of the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel: a Palestinian state instead of Israel from

He expressed confidence in the Arabs' ultimate victory, saying, “[There are] 300 million Arabs, while Israel has only the sea behind it.”
posted by Postroad at 5:25 PM on December 8, 2004

I hope the intifada will soon wind down, but ibmcginty has a good point: there's often a gap between reality and poll results. For example, this past October, I told a pollster that I was going to vote for Bushie. But guess what? I can't vote in this country! Take that, Bush! Counting on my vote? Think again! Bwahahahaha! You're going down, Bush! Down!

(There's also a gap between reality and denial...)
posted by miss kitten at 5:33 PM on December 8, 2004

Even more significant, as I see it, is that Hamas leaders are openly speaking about commitment to a Palestinian state with pre-'67 borders and the declaration of a long term, renewable cease fire with Israel. They'd previously conceded the former, but only as a base from which to drive Israelis into the sea. This is potentially huge and (I think) a validation of Israel's policy of targeted assassination.

Personally, I hope Barghouti makes a solid go of it. I think the current leadership of the PA is hopelessly corrupt and needs a good sweeping-out. It has ever been the case that the Fatah old guard whipped Israel to distract from their own malfeasance. A good public outcry for Bargouti's release would do wonders for energizing the Palestinian populace around something that didn't involve bloodshed. And Barghouti with a mandate would be a better negotiator than Abbas ever could be. Wresting genuine concessions from Israel in a peace process is the only way to guarantee a real and lasting peace rather than another Oslo.

And andrew cooke, say what you'd like, pretty much everyone recognized that the peace process was on hold as long as Arafat was alive. It's hardly snide to recognize that he did more in death for peace than he ever accomplished in life.
posted by felix betachat at 5:40 PM on December 8, 2004

You are wrong.

sorry, i took the wrong numbers from the summary. which changes the margin from 1.5 to 4.5%. that is still barely significant. you are not as right as you think you are.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:46 PM on December 8, 2004

the intifada, armed or not, will never stop until Palestinians have the same basic rights as their Jewish neighbors. while there are lots of side issues like religious extremism, corrupt leadership, demography, eventually it boils down to basic rights. after those are ensured for all sides, peace will be easy. Maybe that sounds naive but I have been over there and it's just one drunken loser's opinion.
posted by chaz at 6:00 PM on December 8, 2004

Personally, I hope Barghouti makes a solid go of it.

So you support a murderer and advocate of terrorism over Abbas who advocates non-violence?
posted by gwint at 6:02 PM on December 8, 2004

oh, and excuse me for looking at the numbers rather than repeating what "pretty much everyone" recognizes.

do the math. only 4.5% more people think his death has made things better rather than worse - how does that explain a 25% change in opinion?

if we try thinking about what's happening, and wht things mean, rather than just forcing our own prejudices on the data, whether they fit or not, then perhaps we'll actually learn something.

i don't have an explanation for that swing. i'm interested to hear what it might be. all i'm asking is that it fit with the numbers.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:02 PM on December 8, 2004

andrew, 2+2 does not always equal 4 in the Middle East
posted by matteo at 6:06 PM on December 8, 2004

Fine, he's a murderer. He's a Tanzim leader. They're all "murderers". He was convicted on trumped up charges for reasons of political exigency; he never himself pulled a trigger.

He made a huge error in supporting intifadah after the Oslo process broke down. For this, the Israeli right punished him. Before the intifadah, he was generally perceived as a moderate. He speaks fluent Hebrew and English. He's a well educated man.

I think he made a strategic decision after Arafat fucked up at Camp David. That decision led to his incarceration. I think his current position of attacks and diplomacy on joint tracks is a similar strategic decision. I imagine he recognizes that to draw support away from Hamas, you have to be willing to advocate violence.

In the end, he's a nationalist, not a zealot. I hope he makes a go of it because he has more moral authority and more political agency than a party man like Abu Mazen.
posted by felix betachat at 6:13 PM on December 8, 2004

He was convicted on trumped up charges

You're saying he was not directly involved in terrorist acts that killed civilians?

he never himself pulled a trigger

Ah, I see. I'm sure you'd allow Sharon the same excuse.

In the end, he's a nationalist, not a zealot.

Call him what you will, but he continues to advocate violence, and while terrorism can achieve many things in the Middle East, peace is rarely one of them.
posted by gwint at 6:22 PM on December 8, 2004

while terrorism can achieve many things in the Middle East, peace is rarely one of them

Benny Morris makes a point somewhere that the only way Sadat was able to sell his peace deal to the Egyptians was under the general impression that Israel had gotten her ass kicked in '73.

I think a similar situation obtains today. Give the Palestinians a sense they've gotten one over on Israel and a peace deal might hold. If it looks like concession and defeat, Hamas has a stronger hand.
posted by felix betachat at 6:29 PM on December 8, 2004

I agree with your last point. As with most negotiation, both sides need to feel as if they've "won", regardless of the facts on the ground, for a viable solution to last.

*shakes felix's hand. heads out for dinner*
posted by gwint at 6:34 PM on December 8, 2004

*puts away molotov cocktail, muttering darkly*
posted by felix betachat at 6:35 PM on December 8, 2004

hey, worse people have won the peace prize.
posted by blendor at 6:40 PM on December 8, 2004

sure, matteo, but when people say 2+2=5, they're usually just repeating what someone else has told them.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:00 PM on December 8, 2004


the middle east being the birthplace of algebra and arithmetic, 2+2 most definitely does equal 4.
posted by ori at 9:04 PM on December 8, 2004

I want an alternative to oil so we can tell the Middle East to fix its own problems.
posted by owillis at 11:15 PM on December 8, 2004

the sad thing about the whole palestinian - israel conflict seems to be the complete lack of actual standing up for what the really believe and stand for on both sides

the media just shows nothing but the worst of both sides.

that is a form of propaganda to me.

i wish it could somehow be resolved in the next 10 years at least
posted by clubmedia at 11:18 PM on December 8, 2004

To imply that the removal of Arafat from power would provoke a complete shift in Palestinian public opinion about Israel is an analysis that could only be considered accurate if you ignored the entire history of Palestinian politics and all other players in its current state.

Arafat's position before his death was one that attempted to pander to the interests of as many players as possible (Western, Israeli, popular, or otherwise) so he could stay in power. Maybe he had a choice in the matter, maybe he didn't, but I think after his death the pendulum will swing away from the middle--though whether towards violence or peace depends on who's elected.

Gwint and Felix, look, this Barghouthi's a Barghouthi for everybody!
posted by schroedinger at 2:00 AM on December 9, 2004

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