Talking polls with Mort Klein


I like Mort Klein, the Zionist Organization of America’s president — he’s funny, engaging, easy to reach.

I think he has some important points to make, too, particularly about Palestinian incitement.

Which is why I roll my eyes every time a ZOA release, subject headed: "XX percent of Palestinians believe …" lands in my inbox. I know from experience that Mort will have picked the most outrageous finding in a poll and plunk it into a release, without context.

So when I wrote a brief yesterday on the latest such poll, I wrote his release in my head … and voila, the next day, there it was in my inbox. And I’m not a medium. I’m not even very bright.

Here’s the ZOA release:

A new poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Palestinians – 62% – oppose the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City and the Western Wall remaining in Israeli hands in any future peace agreement, even if Jerusalem is divided between Israel and a Palestinian state and a Palestinian capital established in the eastern part of the city. Only 37% of Palestinians support such a division, under which the rest of Jerusalem Old City (including the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site) would come under Palestinian sovereignty.

The poll, conducted jointly by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, between June 6 and 16, 2010, also found that:

·        67% of Palestinians support the so-called Arab Peace Initiative, which insists on total Israel withdrawal to the pre-1967 armistice lines, thereby relinquishing, not only eastern Jerusalem with its holiest Jewish sites, but also all of Judea and Samaria, the strategically vital Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights. It also insists on the legally-baseless so-called ‘right of return’ in accordance with the non-binding 1948 UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which would mean millions of Arabs being permitted to move into Israel proper, rendering impossible Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state.

·        57% of Palestinians oppose the creation of a Palestinian state in which, while possessing sovereignty over its land, water, and airspace, Israel would retain the right to use Palestinian airspace for training purposes, and would maintain two early warning stations in Judea and Samaria for 15 years. Only 41% of Palestinians support this idea (Joint Israeli Palestinian Poll, June 2010)

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, "These results show that whatever ideas may be proposed to create a peace settlement, Palestinians clearly are not prepared to even sign an agreement with Israel that does not deprive Israel and the Jewish people of sovereignty over Judaism’s holiest shrines. They also insist on deal breaking conditions that would drastically affect Israeli security, such as depriving Israel of airspace and early warning stations for even a limited, 15-year period, the ‘right of return’ and other non-starters. Coupled with the finding of numerous other polls showing Palestinian rejection of Israel’s existence and support for terrorism against her, it is clear Palestinian society is not willing to make a genuine peace with Israel."

And here’s the poll. What’s significant — and what I focused on in my brief — is that if you fold these proposals into an "end of conflict" package — if these are the bases for an agreement to live side by side, at peace, forever .– support sharply rises, to 49 percent.

In other words, a whole chunk of Palestinians do not want the package as part of an interim deal. (It’s interesting that as many as 37 percent would settle for that.)

I just spoke to Mort, and he’s still appalled. "That’s still a very bad number," he said of the 49-49 split. "After 17 years of Oslo, all you can get is half the Arabs to agree that Israel should keep the Jewish section of Jerusalem?"

He has a point — 49-49 is not a heartening figure. (Palestinians might be similarly depressed that only a slight majority of Israelis — 52-46 would take the same overall deal.)

But he and the ZOA could have made the same point, and more imperviously, by using the real statistic.

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