|Europeans divided on Israel|
A poll conducted in Europe reveals growing disconnect between governments and people over the policy on Israel.
Daud Abdullah Last Modified: 13 Mar 2011 05:04 GMT
The Middle East is not the only region witnessing a growing disconnect between governments and people. In Europe, a major survey has shown that governments there have become increasingly out of tune with the views of their people on the conflict in Palestine.
This was one of the major findings of a poll carried out by the London-based polling institution ICM government and Social Research unit on behalf Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, the Middle East Monitor and the European Muslim Research Centre.
The survey, the first of its kind to exclusively focus on European perceptions of the conflict, was conducted in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands and Britain.
Since its creation in 1948, Europeans have empathised with the state of Israel. They showered it with unlimited diplomatic, political and military assistance; including a nuclear capability, courtesy of the French. The survey reveals that there is now a distinct lack of appetite to support practises that are manifestly illegal, unfair and oppressive.
While European governments individually and collectively pay regular homage to Israeli democracy - they say it is the only democracy in the Middle East - their public is reluctant to do so. Thirty-four per cent of the 7,045 people polled believe Israel is not a democracy, while less than half, or 45 per cent, believe it is.
One striking reason for this indictment of Israeli democracy has been its "illegal" actions and gross disregard for international standards of conduct. Half of Europeans, 53 per cent view the siege of the Gaza Strip as illegal, 60 per cent said the 2008-09 ground invasion of the territory was illegal; while 64 per cent said Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 was illegal. The message emerging from the survey, it seems, is that future European support has to be earned and it would not be given gratis on the basis of pretence or partial adherence to international norms.
In a related matter, more than one-third of those polled (34 per cent) said that Jews with citizenship of a European country should not be allowed to serve in the Israeli army; this compares to only 17 per cent who said they should.
It showed that 49 per cent of respondents recognised Israel as the occupying power; 22 per cent said they did not know if it was. When the University of Glasgow conducted its study in Britain in 2001 it found that 71 per cent did not know that it was the Israelis who were occupying the territories.
Another interesting revelation from the survey relates to the issue of criticism of Israel. While 50 per cent of respondents disagreed with the view that criticism of Israel makes a person anti-Semitic, only 12 per cent said criticising Israel does make a person anti-Semitic.
Clearly pressured by an aggressive pro-Israeli lobby, several European governments, including Britain, have taken steps to change their laws on universal jurisdiction. The survey, however, showed that a clear majority, 58 per cent, oppose changing the law to make it easier for those accused of war crimes to visit Europe, only 10 per cent agree to make such changes. In Britain, only 7 per cent support the change.
One final outstanding revelation relates to the inclusion or exclusion of Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement) from peace talks. Although the European Union took a decision in 2003 to place Hamas on its list of "terrorist" organisations and preclude it from any negotiations, 45 per cent of those polled said it should be included.
In recent years Israel has invested inordinate sums of human and material resources to improve its public image in Europe. While the ICM survey showed that its European lobby has been influential in political as well as the media circles, this has not been transformed into public support.
1. Zionist propaganda was and still is, all pervasive - the anti-Semitism card being one of many ploys used to force people into submission. This was not necessarily intentional, it became part of a pattern.
Originally, it was intentional. Israel's early leaders knew exactly what they were doing. They were too well educated for it to be otherwise.
2. Europeans were more familiar with Ashkenazi culture - probably still are - therefore Europeans had a natural tendancy to identify with Ashkenazi values rather than Arab values.
However, if you look at 'messages' coming out of Britain at the end of the Mandate period, you see they distrust the Zionists. They (the British) voted AGAINST the Partition Plan. Their vote should have been a signal to everyone that there was something terribly wrong with the Plan.
I can understand if people disagree with what I have said, but I know it will be because they are unfamiliar with the true history of what really did happen.
Looks like no one cared, or wanted to see the message for what it was. This was a complete denial of democratic values. That is why Palestine has become so important for the world. There will be on-going serious problems everywhere until the entitlements of Palestinian refugees are recognized.
Karl Sabbagh's book Palestine has some interesting details that throw a new light on behind the scenes maniplation in Britain over the period when the Balfour Declaration was written.
Sabbagh also gives interesting details of how the UN vote was won for Partition.
Weizmann had a lot to do with the actual wording of both the Balfour Declaration and other documents about Palestine written at that time. The book is carefully cross referenced, and is also beautifully written.