Americans for Peace Now and the Arab American Institute released a Zogby poll (full results–pdf) of American Jews and Arab Americans which provides some interesting new data on attitudes toward Mideast peace. One of the most important findings is that both groups track very closely on almost every question asked (with a few exceptions). This indicates there are no significant gaps between American Jews or Arabs on questions of war and peace which both hold vital.
The poll also confirms what many of us have known for years–that American Jews diverge strongly from the views of their leaders and the Israeli government when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian peace.
90% of American Jews support a “secure, independent” Palestinian state.
88% of Arab Americans support a “secure, independent” state of Israel.
34% of Jews believe that Arab Americans support a secure independent Israel.
60% of Arabs believe that Jews support a secure independent Palestine.
87% of Jews and 94% of Arabs support a negotiated two-state solution.
68% of Jews and 64% of Arabs would be more likely to vote for a Presidential candidate who advocated strong engagement in the Mideast peace process.
20% of Jews and 21% of Arabs found George Bush’s policy “effective” in “handling the Arab-Israeli peace process.”
73% of Jews and 79% of Arabs feel it is vital to engage in diplomacy to resolve the Iran nuclear standoff.
21% of Jews and 30% of Arabs feel “optimistic” about Middle East peace.
40% of Jews and 66% of Arabs feel the U.S. should “steer a middle course” between Israel and the Palestinians.
58% of Jews and 59% of Arabs said they would be more likely to support a Presidential candidate who supported peace negotiations between Israel and Syria.
81% of Jews and 84% of Arabs support Israeli-Syrian negotiations.
89% of Jews and 92% of Arabs believe it is important for both communities to work together for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
65% of Jews and 89% of Arabs believe it is imperative to end the Israeli Occupation.
63% of Jews and 77% of Arabs believe in a settlement freeze.
70% of Jews and 82% of Arabs support the Arab League initiative.
80% of both Jews and Arabs agree with the Iraq Study Group report that finding a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is necessary for advancing U.S. Mideast policy goals.
This poll tells us a number of interesting things. It reinforces the absolute divorce between the views of average American Jews and their leadership and the leadership of the State of Israel. AIPAC and other other groups constituting the Israel lobby do not support Syrian-Israel negotiations, are highly suspicious of pursuing a diplomatic strategy regarding Iran, oppose the end of the Occupation, oppose a settlement freeze, and are dubious about the Arab League Initiative.
One somewhat distressing finding was that only 34% of Jews believe that Arabs support a secure Israel, while in fact 88% do. This, of course, indicates the sorry, violent state of affairs in the Middle East today and also the drumbeat of negativity that is inculcated into American Jews by the local Jewish media and the Israel lobby.
A hopeful finding also was that fully 40% of American Jews believe that a “middle course” is the best road for American policy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I recall the Republican Jewish Coalition attempting to excoriate the Democrats in the last election because they allegedly are in favor of such a “middle course.” Little did the Repubs know that an equal number of American Jews favor a middle course (40% + 1% who favor tilting toward Palestine) to those who favor a tilt toward Israel (44%). Despite the enormous efforts of AIPAC to drive a stridently pro-Israel agenda the effort has failed, at least at the grassroots level.
I hope that the Democratic Presidential candidates will also wake and realize that the majority of American Jews don’t want a candidate who will kowtow to AIPAC’s hardline, no compromise agenda. The vast majority, in fact, want a candidate who strongly supports a peace process with both the Palestinians and Syrians. You wouldn’t know this from everything coming out of the mouths of Clinton, Obama and the rest.