A new Pew Research Global Attitudes project (pdf of full report here) shows, to my mind, dismal prospects for peace in the Middle East. Roughly a thousand people in each of 12 countries were surveyed (either face-to-face or by phone) about their attitudes towards Israel and Palestine, the possibility of a peaceful resultion, whether Obama should do more to help forge peace, and so on. I’ll present just a few salient results.
Here’s the first, showing that Muslim countries have a much more pessimistic view of Israeli/Palestinian coexistence then do more “Western” nations:
Palestinians were asked the best way to achieve statehood, and the results are depresssing:
If one wanted to see the glass half full, I suppose you could note the 52% of Palestinians who don’t think peace will come without armed struggle, but that’s barely a majority. And although, when asked, Palestinians see Fatah more favorably than they do Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the latter two (both designated by the US as terrorist organizations) are seen favorably by about half of Palestinians:
As expected, the US sees Israel more favorably than other European countries (in fact, it’s the only country surveyed whose inhabitants mainly see Israel in a favorable light, although, except for Britain, European nations don’t seen Palestine much more favorably:
If there’s any hope in this, it’s the strong Israeli sentiment against the continued building of settlements on the West Bank. Predictably, the more religious Jews don’t see this as problem, but as something that enhances security (they’re wrong):
I’ve stated my own position on this issue many times: for a two-state solution to work, Israel must withdraw from the West Bank and dismantle the settlements. (Jerusalem will, of course, have to be shared.) And Palestine needs to stop firing rockets at Israeli civilians, while Hamas needs to remove from its charter the stuff expunging the state of Israel completely—and while they’re at that, deep-six from the charter the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Czarist forgery about the Jewish plan for world domination. It’s an insult to any thinking person that the Hamas charter presents that as a genuine document. The preconditions for peace require that each entity recognize the other’s right to exist.
And while I’m on the soapbox, let me express my disgust at academics’ boycotting of Israel, highlighted recently by Stephen Hawking’s announcement that he’s not attending the Israeli Presidential Conference in deference to British academics’ boycott of Israel. (This is especially ironic in view of Hawking’s reliance on Israeli technology, which developed the microprocessors in his artificial-speech system). I’m not in favor of academic boycotts (or sports boycotts) in general, because science, like sports, is an international endeavor that, to my mind, should be free from politics.