Friday, March 9, 2012

Palestinian Patience, part 2

My assertion made in yesterday's post is true! The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is important to most Arabs (84%), says a new poll by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies, as cited in an Al Jazeera article. The poll also highlights that the US and Israel are seen as the most threatening countries (what I phrased as "general anti-Americanism" is basically the same thing).

Copying and pasting from the article, here are the highlights of the poll. I'll add bold to those points I think are worth highlighting:

  • A majority describe themselves as religious, but they mostly don't support the interference of religious authorities in citizens' political choices.
  • 71 per cent say they don't distinguish between religious and non-religious people in their economic and social relations.
  • 77 per cent trust their military, half trust their police, 47 per cent trust their governments and 36 per cent trust their local councils before the revolutions.
  • A high 83 per cent believe corruption is widespread in their countries.
  • Only 19 per cent see their states implement the law equally among its citizens.
  • Three quarters of those polled believe that Arab states should take measures to bring their nations closer. An equal percentage believes that states should lift restrictions on free travel and 67 per cent are not satisfied with Arab-Arab co-operation.
  • Contrary to mainstream global media coverage, 73 per cent of those polled see Israel and the US as the two most threatening countries. Five per cent see Iran as the most threatening, a percentage that varies between countries and regions.
  • A high 84 per cent believe the Palestinian question is the cause of all Arabs and not the Palestinians only.
  • A high 84 per cent reject the notion of their state's recognition of Israel and only 21 per cent support, to a certain degree, the peace agreement signed between Egypt, Jordan and the PLO with Israel. Less than a third agree with their government's foreign policy.
  • When it comes to WMD, 55 per cent support a region free of nuclear weapons and 55 per cent see Israel's possession of nuclear weapons as justifying there possession by other countries in the region.

  • There you have it (with awful formatting -- my bad). Nothing in this poll should really come as a surprise. Israel and the US as the most threatening countries? Well, yeah, that makes sense from an Arab perspective. Let's be frank: Iran hasn't invaded anybody within the past 50 years, at least. During that time, Israel has invaded Lebanon a half dozen times, the US invaded Iraq twice, Afghanistan once, has a heavy presence in Yemen, had an unwelcome presence in Saudi Arabia, and was buddy-buddy with Mubarak (and I'm leaving stuff out because I'm not too familiar with the 1967 war, for example). I get it. Are the ayatollahs crazy and do they suppress the Iranian population and commit crimes against their people? Yes! But are they an existential threat to Moroccans or Jordanians? Directly, no. Can the US directly harm people in these countries? Well, yeah (see my post about drone strikes in the Philippines here). There would be no reason for that to happen, but the capability exists and the missiles have been fired in Yemen, Somalia, Sudan (Clinton's strike on the "pharmaceutical" factory in Sudan pre-9/11), Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya (sorta)... I get it. The US is seen as a threat. Check.

    Widespread corruption? Yup. I would have added "unemployment" to the list. It seems that every time I read or see interviews about drug smuggling, kidnapping, or other illegal and harmful activity, the participants always cite the fact that they don't have a job as the primary reason that they got involved in these crimes in the first place. I get it.

    Eighty four percent think that the Palestinian question is the cause of all Arabs, not the Palestinians only? Initially, I'm very uncomfortable with the way that is phrased. The sentence seems to imply that the Palestinian question is not within the jurisdiction of Palestinians to handle, i.e. the other Arabs have a say in what happens, not solely the Palestinians. Personally, I have wondered if this conflict has dragged on long enough to indeed warrant an international solution -- meaning, that since the Israelis and Palestinians can't come to an agreement, one must be imposed. I haven't come to a conclusion (I'm willing to hear arguments!). Therefore, is the Palestinian question the cause of all Arabs (I'll substitute "all involved")? Yeah. I guess. But it still makes me squirm to phrase it that way.

    Let me think about that one.

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