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New Poll of Arab and Jewish Americans - Those Similar Semites







Americans for Peace Now and the Arab American Institute have just released the findings of the first parallel survey of Arab American and Jewish American opinion regarding the Middle East, Israel-Palestine, and US policy.  The first thing to grab the reader's attention is how remarkably similar and sensible are the positions of the vast majority in both communities.  In fact, in the first question asked "How closely would you say you follow the situation in the Middle East" the exact same number of Jewish Americans and Arab Americans (55 percent) answered "very closely" (with 37 and 38 percent, respectively, saying "somewhat closely"). 

The poll is yet another, and this time quite stunning confirmation that both groups want an American administration that is actively engaged in Middle East peacemaking, support a two-state solution, an end to occupation and freeze on settlements, and see a peace agreement as a US strategic interest.  A thumping 68 percent of Jewish Americans, and 64 percent of Arab Americans, say they would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who promised to take an active role in the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians.  While fully 80 percent and 77 percent respectively rate President Bush's handling of the conflict as not effective.

And here is another headline: 73 percent of American Jews, according to this poll, agreed with the statement that "it is vital that the US engage in serious diplomacy with Iran and the international community which could prevent another war."  While only 21 percent felt that the statement "diplomacy with Iran is a waste of time, and the US needs to prepare now for military action" best reflected their view.  You can read the poll here, and below I have posted a few more of the important findings.

[The Iraq Study Group] suggested, “The United States will not be able to achieve goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Do you... agree... [or] disagree that a serious US effort regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will help America achieve broader goals in the Middle East?

                    Jewish American             Arab American

Agree                     80%                            80

Disagree                 18                               14 

Should the United States... support [or] oppose negotiations between Israel and Syria?

                    Jewish American             Arab American

Support                  81                               84

Oppose                  9                                 9

Do you... agree... [or] disagree that Israelis have a right to live in a secure and independent state of their own?

                    Jewish American             Arab American

Agree                     98                               88

Disagree                 2                                 10

Do you... agree... [or] disagree that Palestinians have a right to live in a secure and independent state of their own?

                    Jewish American             Arab American

Agree                     90                               96

Disagree                 9                                 3

Do you... agree... [or] disagree that trying to achieve peace, security, and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians is important to U.S. strategic interests?

                    Jewish American             Arab American

Agree                     96                               91

Disagree                 3                                 6

Would you... support... [or] oppose a negotiated peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that included the establishment of an independent, secure Palestinian state alongside an independent, secure Israeli state, and resolved final status issues of Jerusalem, refugees, and borders?

                    Jewish American             Arab American

Support                 87                               94

Oppose                  7                                 3

Next month will mark the 40th anniversary of the 1967 War, when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. How important do you believe it is to the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians to end the occupation?

                    Jewish American             Arab American

Important               65                               89

Not Important          19                               6 


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Comments (5)

Ralph Kramden:
Do you... agree... [or] disagree that Palestinians have a right to live in a secure and independent state of their own? Jewish American - 90% Arab American - 96%

I wonder a few things:
1. Was the same question asked about whether Israelis have the right to an independent state of their own?

2. When Arab Americans agreed with the statement, what do you think they had in mind for their "independent state"?

Oh and I guess:

3. When Jewish Americans agreed with the statement, what state did they have in mind?


Druthers, how is this different than AIPAC? It seems to me like they would agree with everything here (though they would use a different word than "occupation" in the last question). Aside from that small, and when it comes down to it, insignificant difference, the fact is that AIPAC wants peace.


This poll appears to emphasize the gap between the over-all Jewish community and APAIC. It also confirms that the influence the latter exercises is purely money and lobby based.
Here, as else where, money speaks louder than polls.


I'm impressed with this report, and happily surprised by some of the statistics. They're a good sign, because they seem to show that both sides are reasonable.

On a sidenote, however, I do think it's important to consider the background of each of these groups. As an American Jew and Israel supporter, I actually trust the Arab American Institute more than I do the Americans for Peace Now organization. Peace Now is known to be a splinter group that is not well-liked in Israel because it seems to be not committed to stopping Palestinian terrorism and protecting Israel's interests. The group has also been charged with demonizing the Jewish settlers, thus encouraging hate towards settlers, and providing the general public reasons to dislike the peace camp. suffice it to say, they are not very popular, and that they should definitely NOT be mistaken as a pro-Israel group that could counterbalance this study.

The Arab American Institute seems to be a more trustworthy and impartial source because it is not radical, and it seems to have the support of both Arab Americans and the U.S. goverment (according to my sources, it has "been designated by the United States Census Bureau as the only Census Information Center for compiling data on Arab-Americans").

Bottom line, i like this data, but the sources add an important commentary.

Bill W:

Unfortunately, these sentiments do not translate into the policy position of the major Jewish organizations in the US (witness AIPAC's pressuring of Pelosi to strip from recent legislation a requirement that Bush return to Congress before undertaking any military action against Iran).

It is also (ironically) contrary to the poll results that would come from surveying self-identified Christians. Evangelicals (with their heavy emphasis on dispensationalism and Zionism) would have the most pro-Israel/occupation positions, of course, but I wage that "mainline Protestants" and Catholics would still show results dramatically different than those in this survey.

In any event, even if the results were similar, nothing seems able to move our policy,which is gripped by fear and seemingly controlled by the machinations of small, extreme factions.

It is all very discouraging considering that the best course seems clear.

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Daniel Levy


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