Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

Arab-Americans: Do They Pray for Israel's Destruction as a Jewish State?

It is hard to find Arab-Americans in this country who do not pray for Israel's destruction. American-Arab leaders, advocates or students, tend to, in the last twenty years, express the "best" of the Arab or Palestinian brutal massive propaganda. Of course, they have allies among gentiles and Jews alike. These promoters of anti-Israeli campaign are sophisticated, well-educated people. And most of them are not even Muslims!

(Larry King, CNN, asked Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, P.L.O., to explain the principles of the Muslim religion. He did not know that Dr. Ashrawi, a media star, is not Muslim. This note is to demonstrate the depth of the ignorance of most Americans as to the understanding of the nature of the Middle East. And in many cases, Jews who had opinions on the issues were ignorant of the basic facts about Israel's life and politics.)

To our poor knowledge, most Arab-American's express very radical views as to the issues. Often they, Prof. Edward said, express views which are far radical than the P.L.O. or Arafat himself. Sure, they are smart, they are Americans who know how to sell the urgent need of solving the problem: challenging the basic right of Israel's survival. When they speak in the media about Palestinian right to self-determination they mean on all of the territories of Palestine, from Jordan to the sea.

Jews? The ones who will agree to stay will get a status of a Jewish ghetto in the Middle East. But we are the people of Hatikvah, of hope. Therefore, we decided to present to our reader the following survey which originated from an agreement between Americans for Peace Now and the Arab-American Institute. The survey, conducted by Zogby International (Oct. 2002). Perhaps this survey will serve as a new bridge between Jews and Arabs in this country. But the Arab-American establishment must do the first step of building confidence. It must guarantee the notion that Israel's survival as an integral pat of the Middle East is a must. And that Israel should be accepted to the Arab league as a full member.

This is a litmus test, a minimum kind of a test. Then we will be able to solve all the problems. Today, Arabs and American-Arabs crusade for the opposite: to boycott Israel as a leper of humanity. They even crusade in the American campuses for making Israel an "untouchable entity," stigmatizing Israel as a copy of "Apartheid South Africa." Furthermore, they use any anti-Semitic means to smear or discriminate Israel in this country as well as in Europe.

But let's give hope a chance, let's hear what Dr. Zogby's survey has to say: "The AAI/APN joint survey reveals that our communities are much more moderate on Middle East-related issues than people are often led to believe," said Debra DeLee, President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now. "In fact, this study provides encouraging information about the potential for both communities to work together in the pursuit of common interests in the region. Our poll also sends a message to decision makers in Washington that Arab-Americans and Jewish-Americans at large want to see the U.S. follow policies that will encourage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, rather than detract from it."

According to James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, "The results of this collaborative effort are significant. Despite heightened tensions and the terrible toll of the continuing conflict, solid majorities of Arab Americans and American Jews remain committed to a two state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. Both communities are troubled by current U.S. policy and want to see a more aggressive and balanced push for peace."

ENGAGEMENT IN MIDDLE EAST issues:

The AAI/APN survey found that both communities say that they follow the situation in the Middle East closely, with 56.6% of Arab American respondents indicating that they very closely track regional events and 36.6% saying that they somewhat closely follow them. Among Jewish Americans, 55.5% said they very closely follow Middle East developments and 40.4% said they somewhat closely track the situation. On the other hand, the communities differ in their degrees of optimism and pessimism about Middle East peace. Among Arab Americans, 58.9% said they are pessimistic and 33.8% expressed optimism. A larger majority of Jewish Americans (74.3%) expressed pessimism, while a smaller minority (17.2%) said they were optimistic.

THE U.S. AND THE MIDDLE EAST:

Neither community gives President George W. Bush high ratings for his handling of the Arab/Israeli conflict in the Middle East. Among Arab Americans, 46.4% gave him a poor rating and 22.3% gave him a fair rating. Among Jewish Americans, 31.3% gave him a poor rating and 37.7% ranked him as fair.

When asked how they felt the Bush Administration was pursuing peace in the Middle East, 65.3% of Arab Americans said it was leaning towards Israel and 13.7% said it was steering a middle course. Among Jewish Americans, on the other hand, just 3 8.3% said that the Administration was leaning towards Israel and 30% thought it was steering a middle course. There was also strong sentiment (19.7%) among American Jews that the Administration was leaning towards disengagement from the peace process.

When asked how they thought the Bush Administration should be pursuing peace, there was more agreement. A majority of Arab Americans (65.8%) said it should be steering a middle course, while 11.6% said it should lean towards Israel and 7.7% said it should lean towards the Palestinians. A plurality of Jewish Americans (45.4%) wanted it steering a middle course, while 39.4% said it should lean towards Israel, and 1.5% wanted it to learn towards the Palestinians.

As to the issue of misconceptions, the Zogby survey states: "Both communities have misperceptions about the level of support that exists on the other side for secure, independent Palestinian and Israeli states. While 50.4% of Arab Americans agreed that a majority of Jewish Americans think that Palestinians have a right to live in a secure and independent state of their own, the actual level of Jewish American support for this position is 85.5%. At the same time, only 33.8% of Jewish Americans agree and 40.7% disagree that a majority of Arab Americans think that Israelis have a right to live in a secure and independent state of their own, even though 95.4% of Arab Americans hold this view." Dr. Zogby's finding that most American Jews today do support the establishment of a Palestinian state is questionable since the majority of concerned and active Jews learn that this state will be the epitome of terrorism or an anti-democratic entity. Why should American public opinion entitle the P.L.O. with the sacred principle of self-determination?

But let's give Dr. Zogby the last say: 71.8% of Jewish Americans said that the best way for Israel to respond to ongoing violent attacks by Palestinian is with a combination of political negotiations and force, while another 17.6% said that just political negotiations was the best response. Only 8.3% said that force alone should be used. When asked if they agree or disagree that some Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza should be evacuated in the context of a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, 67.5% expressed agreement.

When asked if such evacuations should take place to improve Israeli security even without a peace accord, a majority of American Jews (53.5%) supported removing settlements and just 31.9% disagreed with evacuation under those circumstances.

Finally, 73.5% of American Jews said they would support U.S. participation in a large international financial aid plan to rebuild the Israeli and Palestinian economies.


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