A new poll of Arab-American and American Jewish attitudes on Israel/Palestine shows remarkable agreement. "Seeing eye to eye," claim the poll’s sponsors, the Arab American Institute and Americans for Peace Now. To wit:
–98 percent of Jews says Israelis have a right to a secure, independent state. 88 percent of Arab-Americans agree…
–90 percent of Jews say Palestinians have a right to ditto; 96 percent of Arab-Americans agree…
–80 percent of Jews say peace in I/P will help the U.S. achieve its goals in the Mideast; the figure for Arab-Americans is identical..
–65 percent of Jews say that it is important to end the occupation, and 63 percent say that settlements should be frozen; echoed by 89 percent of Arab-Americans re occupation, and 77 percent re settlements…
–Amazingly, 59 percent of Jews say they would be "more likely" to vote for a presidential candidate who wanted to engage Syria (and 58 percent of Arab-Americans said the same)
In announcing these results, Jim Zogby of AAI said that they show remarkable "unity" of the two communities. Debra DeLee of APN echoes this. She says that despite all the troubles in the Middle East, nearly 2/3 of American Jews are for freezing settlements, and 90 percent of Jews haven’t "backed away" from the two-state solution, or "thrown up their hands" and said, "we want a binational state."
Couple comments. The two organizations are surely right as to the bulk of opinion in these communities, and laudably optimistic. Let’s hope Arab-Americans and Jewish-Americans work together to bring about a two-state solution.
Without being cynical, I’d raise a couple of demurrals. The figures show that 30 percent of American Jews say Israelis should continue to settle the West Bank as much as they please. That hard-line opinion is big, and, I’d say, represents the Engaged Jews, the hardliners who are helping to shape American policy. That hardline opinion also shows up in a question showing that a minority of Jews trust Arab-Americans, only 34 percent saying they believe Arab-Americans want a secure Israel. The Arab-Americans tend to be more trusting: 60 percent think that Jews do want a secure Palestinian state.
Then, too, the poll shows troubling changes since 2003 on support for a
two-state solution. Jews went from 82 percent in favor of a Palestinian
state to 90 percent over 4 years, while Arab-Americans went the other way, from 95
percent in favor of a secure Israel to 88 percent. So: Jews are coming
around to a two-state solution while Arab-Americans tend to be
abandoning the idea. That’s not hopeful.
Lastly, the Arab-Americans are overwhelmingly Christian: 65 percent. And only 24 percent Muslim. Attitudes in the Arab world are surely not so mellow…