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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 15, 2003

An editorial in the Detroit Free Press by Hady Amr selectively quotes a particularly meaningless poll made in the Middle East, where we find out that, for instance

...a remarkable 72 percent of Palestinians are willing to embrace nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation as part of a process that leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Note that nothing in that statement says that the Palestinians are willing to use nonviolent resistance exclusively; there is no repudiation of violence there.

In fact, if you look at the full poll results [PDF, 68 KB], you find out in no uncertain terms that "[a] majority of Palestinians does not show a willingness to reduce violence" (page 5, section 6, emphasis mine). The numbers also show that 57% believe that using armed force against Israelis makes the Israelis more willing to make compromises; only 36% think that it makes them less willing or has no effect (page 6, chart). If that's not an endorsement of violence by the majority, then I don't know what is. (By the way, I wonder what gave them the idea that violence leads to concessions?)

Amr also writes:

An identical proportion, 72 percent of Israeli Jews, would accept a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders if Palestinians would stop using violence.
Frankly, I have no idea where in the poll Amr got this number. I searched the entire document for occurrences of 72 and seventy-two, and got no results. No such result appears in the charts, either. In fact, only one occurrence of 1967 can be found in the entire 11 pages of this document, and it talks about Palestinian views. Maybe someone can spot it for me?

At any rate, this is a completely vacuous finding, since its if clause is an impossibility. If the Arabs were not violent, just about anyone could support a Palestinian state "based on" the 1967 "borders." ("Borders" is in scare quotes because the 1967 line of demarcation between Israel and Jordan was never officially a border -- because Jordan opposed its recognition as such.) Hell, if that were the case, you could support an unarmed border, with free passage between the two countries. Of course, the Arabs are using violence, and have been since Israel's inception, so what we're citing is nothing more than a fun fantasy. Whatever compromises or borders are agreed on, it will have to be with the understanding that the Palestinians are a people hostile to the Israelis, and will so remain for the foreseeable future.

Amr is out to deliver the standard cycle-of-violence rhetoric, and he doesn't disappoint. Some of the rhetorical questions he asks are particularly absurd:

Why have Israelis failed to see that Palestinians, on a routine basis, are loudly engaging in nonviolent protests against the Israeli military occupation?
Perhaps they are too busy burying the dead victims of those Palestinians who engage in very violent protests against the "Israeli military occupation." Seriously, Amr seems to forget that a nonviolent protest is only relevant if it's the only form of protest used. Any violence -- particularly on the scale of Palestinian terror -- nullifies any effect of the legitimate protests, not to mention gives the attacked license to take measures to prevent such attacks in the future. (That's how that "military occupation" happened in the first place.) In other words, until all violent protest -- i.e. terrorism -- stops, the Israelis are entirely right to ignore the nonviolent tactics. That Palestinians use nonviolent protest as just another tactic alongside terrorism isn't an indicator of any moral code -- it just shows that they are willing to do anything to get their way.