Friday, July 27, 2007

[wvns] James Zogby: The Arab-Jewish Agreement

The Arab-Jewish Agreement
James J. Zogby
June 05, 2007

In the flush of excitement that greeted the 2002 release of the Geneva
Agreements (a framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiated by
leading, though "unofficial," Israelis and Palestinians), the Arab
American Institute (AAI) and Americans for Peace Now (APN) polled Arab
Americans and American Jews to test their support for the terms of the
agreement. We found that not only did both communities demonstrate
significant support for a resolution to the conflict along the lines
of the Geneva Agreements, they also agreed on a host of other issues
related to U.S. Middle East policy.

Five years later our two groups undertook a follow-up survey. We
commissioned Zogby International (ZI) and, during the week of May 22,
2007, we polled 501 Arab Americans and an identical number of American
Jews. We found that, despite the violence and pain that bloodied the
Middle East during the intervening years, the two communities still
show significant agreement on almost every issue central to
Arab-Israeli peace and U.S. policy in the region.

Strong majorities of both Arab Americans and American Jews still
support the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Both want an end to the 40 years of occupation of the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip (two-thirds of American Jews and 89 percent of Arab
Americans). Over 80 percent of both Arab Americans and American Jews
agree that the U.S. should support negotiations between Israel and
Syria, and over three-quarters of both communities favor a diplomatic
approach over a military confrontation with Iran.

Furthermore, 80 percent of both communities agree with the finding of
the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group that "The United States will not
be able to achieve goals in the Middle East unless the United States
deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict" and 70 percent of
American Jews and 82 percent of Arab Americans support the 2002 Arab
League Peace Initiative as the "basis for negotiations."

What is striking about the results is the depth of the agreement. In
many instances, the responses given by the two groups are near
identical or, at least, within the margin of error of each other.

Strong majorities of both communities rate the Clinton
Administration's handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict as effective,
while only an identical 20 percent of each rate Bush's efforts as
effective. And almost two-thirds of Arab Americans and American Jews
say they would be more likely to support a 2008 presidential candidate
who promised to "take an active role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace
process," with nearly 60 percent of each community saying that they
would be more likely to support a candidate who supported the
Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations. Ninety percent of Arab Americans
and American Jews agree that it is important for their two communities
to work together to support a Middle East peace where "Palestinians
and Israelis each have the right to live in an independent state of
their own."

In fact, there were only a few areas of disagreement. When asked how
the Bush Administration should pursue Arab-Israeli peace, two thirds
of Arab Americans agree that the President should "steer a middle
course" between the Israelis and the Palestinians. American Jews, on
the other hand, are divided, with 44 percent saying the Administration
should support Israel and 40 percent saying "steer a middle course."

Both communities strongly support the statement "Israelis have a right
to live in a secure and independent state of their own" (98 percent of
American Jews and 88 percent of Arab Americans); and the statement
"Palestinians have the right to live in a secure and independent state
of their own" (90 percent of American Jews, 96 percent of Arab
Americans). But they don't think that about each other. Only 34
percent of American Jews believe that Arab Americans support the
Israeli right noted above, while a significantly higher 60 percent of
Arab Americans believe American Jews support the Palestinian right.

It can be hoped that when the results of this AAI/APN poll become
better known in both communities, they can provide the impetus for
joint action in support of mutually shared goals. Aside from providing
the basis for better understanding and joint action, the poll
demonstrates the fallacy, fostered by groups like AIPAC (the
pro-Israel lobby) and believed by too many politicians, that Arab
Americans and American Jews are poles apart in their views of Middle
East peace. They are not.

Forty years into the occupation, both communities are saying "enough."
They want the violence and occupation to end. They want a
comprehensive Middle East peace, and they want the kind of U.S.
leadership that will work to make that peace a reality.

Dr. James J. Zogby is president of the Arab American Institute.



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