The unpalatable and essential truth is that while terrorism in general is losing its appeal in certain parts of the world, it remains a desired option for many, and among Palestinian Arabs, it attracts support in the astronomical range.
"In recent years, Pew Global Attitudes surveys have documented a decline in support for suicide bombing in a number of countries, and today the percentage of Muslims who say this type of violence is often or sometimes justifiable stands at 10% or less in Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan. Support for these acts is somewhat more common in Arab nations, although there have been steep declines over the last decade in Lebanon and Jordan. Palestinian Muslims, however, remain an outlier on this question: 68% say suicide attacks in defense of Islam can often or sometimes be justified, a level of support essentially unchanged from 2007. And in Egypt, support for suicide bombing is actually on the rise -- currently, 28% believe it can be justified, up from 8% in 2007."Several additional key datapoints from the Pew Global Attitudes Project report of 17th May 2011, based on surveys of Moslems between March 21 and April 26:
- The Hamas terrorists who control the Gaza Strip are viewed more favorably in Egypt (45%) and (47%) than they are in the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (42%).
- The Hezbollah terrorist organization gets a "favorable" rating of only 5% in Turkey and 14% in Pakistan (the data were collected before Bin Laden was tracked down and killed there). Among Palestinian Arabs, they score 61%.
- In Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt, solid majorities believe laws should be based strictly on the teachings of the Quran. But (and this seems surprising), that view is held only by a minority in Turkey, Lebanon, Indonesia and among Palestinian Arabs.
The Pew report, "Arab Spring Fails to Improve U.S. Image: Obama's Challenge in the Muslim World" (online summary here), was published just days before President Obama's speech on the events in the Middle East and North Africa, due to be delivered at the State Department later today. Pews data suggest he is doing far less well in Moslem and Arab countries than two years ago.
"With the exception of Indonesia, Obama remains unpopular in the Muslim nations polled, and most disapprove of the way he has handled calls for political change roiling the Middle East. Moreover, many of the concerns that have driven animosity toward the U.S. in recent years are still present -- a perception that the U.S. acts unilaterally, opposition to the war on terror, and fears of America as a military threat. And in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Pakistan, most say their own governments cooperate too much with the U.S."
Might this affect what the president says today? Only if you think he wants them to like him better.