Who Do They Like, Who Do They Hate
Barry Rubin
September 18, 2008 These two polls are very interesting especially when compared to each other, and are not so bad. Contrary to what we think there are basically two models:

  1. Strong support for Israel as against the PA: US
  2. Relative evenhandedness: France, Germany, and UK.

We are not seeing results of high support for Palestinians versus Israel, even in a country like France, even after years of anti-Israel propaganda. Note that there are no countries where support for the Palestinians is higher than that for Israel. In Germany there is greater support for Israel; in France and the UK more evenhanded. But even this understates the case. The Palestinians are represented in this poll by the PA, which is perceived (rightly or wrongly) as moderate, nonviolence, and ready to make peace with Israel. Comparing Israel and the PA is going to end up being more even in result than comparing Israel to Fatah, the PLO, Hamas or talking about Israelis versus Palestinians. After all, the argument would be that the PA are those Palestinians who want to live in peace with Israel so liking both means wanting the two sides to make peace and have a two-state solution. Presumably, most of those who liked the parties do not perceive a positive statement about the PA as anti-Israel. Note also that in France, Germany and-to a lesser extent-the UK, support for Israel is not that far behind positive views of the US. After all, if the US can only get 47 percent in France is it so surprising Israel gets 41? And the same applies to Germany (51, 47); though the gap in the UK is a bit wider it is not that extreme. The situation in Turkey is very bad since in recent years the support for the PA is based on the idea of Muslim solidarity. The high results for the US and USSR are also surprising. Clearly, the Islamic-oriented regime has had a big effect on popular thinking or, to put it differently, its election reflects shifts in public opinion. So if the result isn’t great it isn’t terrible either, better than we would expect. Poll 1 “Transatlantic Trends 2008, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. and the Compagnia di San Paolo (Italy), asked respondents in various countries in June to rate their feelings toward countries, with 100 meaning very warm and favorable and 0 unfavorable.

U.S. respondents: US-83, Russia-48, Israel-62, PA-36, Iran-25
French respondents: US-47, Russia-41, Israel-41, PA-40, Iran-24
German respondents: US-51, Russia-49, Israel-47, PA-39, Iran-29
UK respondents: US-56, Russia-47, Israel-45, PA-45, Iran-33
Turkish respondents: US-14, Russia-18, Israel-8, PA-44, Iran-32 (Transatlantic Trends)”

Now look at Poll 2 (below). I have reorganized it for better understanding: Negative views

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Australia Jews 11
France: Muslims 38; Jews 20
Germany: Muslims 50; Jews 25
Spain: Muslims 52; Jews 46
Poland: Muslims 46; Jews 36
Russia: Jews 34
UK: Muslims 23; Jews 9
US: Muslims 23; Jews 7

Some points:

  • Australia, the US, and the UK are by far the most tolerant. Despite European “sweetness and light” and “multiculturalism”, they are far more bigoted. Note that Americans are ridiculed as narrow-minded and intolerant by Europeans. The shoe is on the other foot.
  • Jews are always less unpopular than Muslims.
  • Spain, Poland, and Russia can be fairly described as anti-Semitic nations in terms of popular opinion. History is pretty consistent.
  • The level of anti-Semitism in France and Germany is quite high although not characteristic.
  • Who would have dared dream 20 years ago that one in five Germans would be anti-Semitic? I wonder what the figure would have been if a poll had been taken there-or in France for that matter–say, in 1900?
  • Muslims have legitimate concerns about high levels of hatred.

What is amazing in these findings is that anti-Semitism has risen in virtually all countries since 2005. Yet the level of violence has been much lower than during the previous five years, not to mention the Hamas takeover and growing radical Islamist anti-Semitism (a negative or a positive example?), improved Western diplomatic stances toward Israel, and Israel’s tireless efforts to prove it wants peace, massive Jewish philanthropy to prove they are good citizens, and so on. Theodor Herzl was right on everything-including the eternal nature of anti-Semitism and the inability of Jewish action to end it-except that Israel’s existence would reduce it. Poll 2 “Growing numbers of people in several major European countries say they have an unfavorable opinion of Jews and Muslims. A spring 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Pew Global Attitudes Project finds 46% of the Spanish rating Jews unfavorably, with 34% of Russians and 36% of Poles echoing this view. Significant numbers of Germans (25%) and French (20%) also express negative opinions of Jews. Other figures reported include Great Britain (9%), Australia (11%), and the U.S. (7%). Fully half of Spanish (52%) and German respondents (50%) rate Muslims unfavorably. Negative opinions about Muslims are found in Poland (46%), France (38%), Britain (23%) and the U.S. (23%).” (Pew) Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). Prof. Rubin’s columns can be read online.