Re the Poll: Percent of what? By Harry Feldman

21 November, 2009 — bureauofcounterpropaganda.blogspot.com/

You may have come across a new ‘poll’ ‘Transfer’ Tops Solutions to Arab-Israeli Problem’ that’s doing the rounds.

According to Yaniv Reich, reproduced at Information Clearing House, ‘53% of Israelis think ethnic cleansing is the solution to the conflict’.

The actual question was ‘What’s the best solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict?’, and the response options were:

Two states for two peoples 30.8%
Transfer of Palestinians to another Arab country 53.2%
Maintain status quo 1.3%
Give Palestinians Jordanian citizenship 14.5%

As I’ve often pointed out before, if the response options don’t exhaust all the possibilities, if only by offering an ‘other’ option, it inevitably distorts the results. In most cases, as in this one, failure to include other possibilities, like extending Israeli citizenship to everyone in the area Israel currently controls, or federation with neighbouring countries, for example, means that the poll is actually more an exercise in propaganda than research —an attempt to form rather than to measure respondents’ views.

But in this case, that hardly matters. To his credit, Reich disclaims of Israel National News (Arutz 7) ‘its a right-wing rag’. As far as I’m aware, its principal audience is settlers, presumably, hard core English speaking olim. So the population ‘sampled’ is already heavily skewed to the extreme right.

At the same time, apparently picking up on Arutz 7’s claim of ‘more than 6,400 people surveyed’, he gives Arutz Sheva too much credit in describing the number of votes as ‘sample size “more than 6,400?’. In reality, the poll was not a survey as usually understood, where respondents are selected at random from identified ‘strata’ of a population to ensure that the sample reflects demographic characteristics of the whole population, like sex, age, location, etc. The ‘sample’ was entirely self selecting. We have no way of knowing whether respondents corresponded in any way even with the population of Arutz Sheva readers, much less with Israeli Jews, much less with Israelis in general.

Based on this thoroughly bogus online vote, it is not possible to say, as Reich does, that ‘53.2% of surveyed Israelis say the “solution” to the conflict was the ethnic cleansing (”transfer”) of Palestinians out of occupied Palestine and into other neighboring Arab countries’. Because there was no proper sampling, we can’t calculate the ‘margin of error — for all we know, it’s 90%, or 3%.

As for the other results, Arutz Sheva is actually more honest than Reich in claiming, ‘The “two-states for two peoples” solution being pushed by the United States and the international community received 30.8 percent support’, where Reich writes, ‘only 30.8% of Israelis support the “two-states for two peoples” framework for peace’. It’s not 30.8% of Israelis — it’s just 30.8% of those who voted in the poll, since they don’t represent anyone else. Bear in mind that this was an online poll, so anyone at all can vote, Israeli or not, Jewish or not.

According to Tel Aviv University’s October War and Peace Index, however, which does purport to be based on a genuine sample of 514, with a margin of error of 4.5%,

…the distribution of views among the Jewish public is quite clear : the majority, about two-thirds (64%), favor the principle [of “two states for two peoples”] compared to a third who oppose it.

So it’s highly probable that the proportion of Israeli Jews who support ‘two states for two peoples’ is actually more than double what this poll claims.

It’s worth reiterating that for Israeli Jews, ‘two states for two peoples’ does not necessarily mean The International Consensus. As I pointed out in July, 60% of Israeli Jews say withdrawal to the Green Line is ‘unacceptable’, and 53% consider evacuation of the settlements unacceptable, while 45% insist that it’s ‘essential’ for all of Jerusalem with its expanded boundaries, to remain annexed to Israel, etc. October’s War and Peace Index found that 54% of the two state supporters ‘thinks continued construction in the settlements will not ultimately detract from the realization of the two-state solution’.

Real opinion polls, for all their legion faults, provide us with at least a gross indication of the level of unabashed and unalloyed racism among Israeli Jews, whether they support establishing a Palestinian bantustan, and what form they want it to take, among other things. And we can use that information in countering the perennial hasbara onslaught about ‘Israel’s quest for peace’, but wherever you may read about it, this Arutz Sheva poll tells us squat and it is self defeating to pretend that it does.

In solidarity,
Harry
http://bureauofcounterpropaganda.blogspot.com

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