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Americans for Peace Now-Arab American Institute Survey on Attitudes of American Jews and Arabs.

June 15, 2007

(thanks to Carolyn Bninski for posting this survey)

A recent survey done by Americans for Peace Now and the Arab American Institute reveal patterns in both the Jewish and Arab-American communities that are not new. Indeed the results have become rather common – specifically while generally pessimistic (realistic?) about the prospects of Middle East peace
• They rate President Bush’s Middle East peace efforts (if one can call them that) as poor
• They both are looking for a presidential candidate that is serious about Israeli-Palestinian peace making
• Very high percentages (98% of Jews surveyed, 88% of Arabs surveyed) support Israel’s right to exist within secure borders
• 90% of Jewish Americans surveyed and 96% of Arab Americans surveyed support the right of the Palestinians to a `secure and independent’ state of their own
• An overwhelming percentage of both groups believe that achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians is `important to US strategic interests’.
• 87% of Jews surveyed and 94% of Arab Americans surveyed support a negotiated 2 state solution between Israelis and Palestinians with most Jews and a great majority of Arab-Americans seeing an end to the Israeli occupation of the 1967 territories as necessary for peace
• In the same vein a majority of both groups look positively upon both the Saudi Peace Initiative and Arab League Peace Initiative (which are more or less the same – based upon UN Resolution 242)
• Perhaps more surprising – given all the noises of AIPAC, ADL – and Senatorial hawks like Joseph Lieberman – was the fact that a full 73% of American Jews and 79% of Arab Americans support a US policy of negotiations with Iran, with only a distinct minority – less than 25% – that support preparing for war or some kind of military strike.

How to interpret these statistics?

• First, as mentioned about they are not surprising. Similar surveys done over the past quarter century have yielded similar results. So what can be said is that public opinion among both Jews and Arabs in the USA especially concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remain constant.
• That public opinion in its large majority still supports a 2 state solution to the conflict, despite the complications to the project that the increased number of n illegal Jewish settlements built since the Oslo Accords were signed.
• Support for a one state solution – be it a democratic secular state, or an `ethnic state’ (all Jewish, all Arab Palestinians) remains marginal
• Despite all efforts to vilify the Palestinians and portray the occupiers of the territories as `victims’, such characterizations have in part failed.
• These results suggest that those who have been working for an end to the Occupation of the 1967 Territories and a negotiated 2 state solution to the conflict have been more successful – against great odds – than might otherwise be thought. At the very least, such groups as The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center (Boulder), Colorado Jews for a Just Peace, Friends of Sabeel, this newsletter – just to name a few – despite mounting pressure against them, and attempts to characterize such groups as `marginal’, `fringe’, or `extremist’- they much more accurately represent the thinking of main-stream Americans than AIPAC, the ADL and the Denver rabbis.
• The corollary to the last point is that despite great exertions, aggressive campaigning symbolized by the likes of David Horowitz and Alan Deshowitz, that the positions of AIPAC et al are not resonating very well among the American people.
• Precisely because the support for AIPAC et al is weakening, such organizations are redoubling their efforts to win the struggle for public opinion. Israel’s more zealous defenders can, as a result, be counted on to overreact, as if they are programmed to do so.
• There is very little opposition – according to these polls – to the existence of Israel as a state within its 1967 borders. Again, while not a unanimous position within the peace movement here in Colorado, it is widespread.
• Perhaps the most salient point about this survey is the degree to which groups like AIPAC, ADL, AJC – do NOT represent the mainstream Jewish thinking (even if they obviously have a great deal more – inordinately more – political clout) on the Israeli Palestinian conflict despite their considerable political influence and organizing acumen
• In the same vein, despite great efforts to push the US (or Israel) to attack Iran, most Jewish Americans do not buy into such projects which they rightly understand to be dangerous adventurism that could have dire results. The fact that such a large percentage of American Jews calls for negotiations with Iran suggests something more important: that the attempt to vilify Iran, compare it to Nazi Germany and its current leadership (admittedly deserving of much criticism) with Hitler – has also failed. Keep in mind that the last two AIPAC conventions (2006, 2007 were nothing short of anti-Iranian orgies.
• Similar surveys on Jewish attitudes towards the US occupation (yes that is the right word) of Iraq have yielded overwhelming opposition among American Jews to this blotch (yet another one) on American foreign policy

All this doesn’t make the challenges to building a movement for Middle East peace any easier, but it does suggest that a substantial potential base exists. The attitudes reflected in this poll reflects more than just the Jewish or Arab-American communities. These views would resonate with other constituencies and social forces.

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