One of the things I used to hear, and sometimes still do, was that Israelis and Palestinian Arabs could solve their problems if they could just get together at the “grass roots” level. It’s those extremist leaders, they would say, Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon, who are the problem. The average Israeli Jew and Palestinian Arab just want the same things everyone else does, peace, a good job, a dignified life. Each side only needs to understand the other, and they’ll see that conflict is counterproductive.
To this end there were numerous initiatives, organizations, encounter groups, etc. which tried to make possible the communication that their promoters believed would dissolve the conflict.
It never worked, and it will not work because grass roots Jews and Arabs do not want the same things — in particular, what the Arabs want is to possess the land and evict the Jews. This isn’t something that you can compromise about, nor will better communication change anything.
Palestinian Arab leaders reflect the grass roots point of view as much or more than they create it. Recently the leaked ‘Palestine papers’ got some Fatah negotiators in very hot water because it was suggested that perhaps they may have been willing to compromise to some degree on the issue of ‘right of return’.
Now a new poll of Palestinian Arabs exposes the grass roots for what they are: rejectionist.
Only one in three Palestinians (34 percent) accepts two states for two peoples as the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to an intensive, face-to-face survey in Arabic of 1,010 Palestinian adults in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip completed this week by American pollster Stanley Greenberg…
Respondents were asked about US President Barack Obama’s statement that “there should be two states: Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people and Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people.”
Just 34% said they accepted that concept, while 61% rejected it.
Sixty-six percent said the Palestinians’ real goal should be to start with a two-state solution but then move to it all being one Palestinian state.
Asked about the fate of Jerusalem, 92% said it should be the capital of Palestine, 1% said the capital of Israel, 3% the capital of both, and 4% a neutral international city.
Seventy-two percent backed denying the thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem, 62% supported kidnapping IDF soldiers and holding them hostage, and 53% were in favor or teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools.
When given a quote from the Hamas Charter about the need for battalions from the Arab and Islamic world to defeat the Jews, 80% agreed. Seventy-three percent agreed with a quote from the charter (and a hadith, or tradition ascribed to the prophet Muhammad) about the need to kill Jews hiding behind stones and trees. — Jerusalem Post
There were, it’s true, some results that were interpreted as positive:
only 22% supported firing rockets at Israeli cities and citizens and … two-thirds preferred diplomatic engagement over violent “resistance.”
Among Palestinians in general 65% preferred talks and 20% violence. In the West Bank it was 69-28%, and in Gaza, 59- 32%.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of evidence that these peaceful tendencies can be attributed to fear of Israel’s retaliation. And today the Arabs see clearly that the diplomatic track — with background pressure from ‘militants’ who are naturally not connected with the leadership and allegedly can’t be controlled by them — is inexorably producing gains for the Arab program, without the need for massive violence.
Two decades ago, the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state was supported only by Arab-related interests and the extreme Left. Today, it is a major policy goal of the US and the European Union. Until recently, the blueprint for creating such a state was UNSC resolution 242, which called for borders to be determined by the parties involved, borders which were specifically not intended to be the 1949 lines. Today, it’s 1949 lines plus swaps. A few years ago, the idea of ‘right of return’ for the descendents of Arab refugees was not taken seriously. Today, Obama refuses to rule it out — or to insist on recognition of the Jewish state.
The conventional wisdom today, accepted by most of the Western world, is that the territories are ‘Palestinian’ and Israeli settlements there are illegal. Never mind that these propositions are historically, legally and morally wrong.
There is also the purported urgency. Everyone believes, or at least repeatedly says, that the Palestinians can’t wait any longer. Never mind that they turned down statehood several times, because the terms that were offered didn’t include the end of Israel.
The diplomatic strategy is going quite well for them, thank you, and they don’t see any need to bring about another operation Defensive Shield or Cast Lead.
No, there is remarkable unanimity of opinion among Palestinian Arabs — they know what they want, and it isn’t coexistence. But the poll’s pro-Israel sponsor, The Israel Project, is remarkably upbeat in the face of what is objectively a complete demolition of the “communicate with the grass roots” theory:
Israel Project president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said she was encouraged that the Arab Spring would bring more accuracy to Arab media and by the 59% of Palestinians who are on Facebook. The Israel Project has 80,723 friends for its Arabic site, which has had 9.5 million page views in two months.
“Some of the numbers in the poll are discouraging, but we are trying to change them,” she said at a Jerusalem press conference in which Greenberg presented the findings.
Greenberg said the survey proved that there was a big need for public education and leadership on the Palestinian side.
Facebook isn’t the answer. How long will it be before these people start to get it?