Friday, September 05, 2014

5-Sep-14: A society steeped in the ethos of terror, and the poll results to prove it

Top of the heap: Hamas leadership
The most influential of the Palestinian Arab opinion polling organizations, Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) from Ramallah, came out with what they called a Special Gaza War Poll this past Tuesday. A summary of the results is online here.

(The poll was conducted in the five day period August 26-30, 2014. Respondents numbered 1,270, all adults, and were interviewed in 127 locations in the PA-controlled West Bank and the Hams-controlled Gaza Strip.)

We want to share several observations arising from it.
  • For those of us living outside Gaza who greeted with horror the reports of school-age children being indoctrinated with full-on Hamas training - ideological and (ahem) practical - in the art of terrorism, and who thought a sense of that horror was shared by Gaza's Arabs, time to think again. The Palestinian Arabs of Gaza have embraced the Hamas doctrine in all its grotesque, hate-filled jihadism. They support Hamas to an extent that only Eastern European dictators were able to achieve in a bygone age.
  • The strategy of Hamas in intimidating news organizations and their reporters into quietly not reporting on the firing of Hamas rockets from high-density residential neighbours has paid off handsomely. In a classic case of "Whom are you going to believe? Me or those lying eyes of yours?", the Palestinian Arabs living next to those rockets, and shielding those rocket men say it never happened.
  • As bad as this war (most assuredly) was for the ordinary people of Gaza, there is an incredible appetite by them for more. They believe they won. And if you won, why would you not want more, more, more?
Mostly in our words, the main findings:
  • Two thirds (64%) of Palestinian Arabs say the Gaza Strip has the ability "to remain steadfast against Israeli attacks" and they attribute this capability to the intervention of Iran, Turkey and Qatar. 
  • More than that, overwhelmingly, and despite the evidence of devastated buildings, facilities and neighbourhoods, the Palestinian Arab street believes this fighting was won by Hamas. No fewer than 79% of them see it as a victory, leaving us to wonder what possible incentive outsiders are going to ascribe to them for peace and/or compromise when the next round threatens to erupt. If they won, then surely next time they are going to win even more, right? As for signs of a voice of despondent realism, you could say it's there too since 17% think both sides lost, which might offer some sort of mild and minor comfort.
  • How much support is there for the Hamas strategy of firing rockets indiscriminately into anything Israeli? That, after all, is precisely what people mean when they say that Hamas is a terrorist organization: they don't care who gets hit, they make zero effort to avoid civilian casualties, and never pretend otherwise; and they almost always fire in the vague general direction of towns and schools rather than of army bases or of tanks. Well, on this there can be little doubt: a phenomenal 86% support it. They want the indiscriminate rocket fire. They know that this is considered terrorism, and they don't care one bit. That's 86% of the overall population, and not 86% of the Hamas inner sanctum. We need to make sure people know this and don't forget it.
  • As if there were any practical way to do this, the Palestinian Arab public overwhelmingly rejected the notion that Israeli civilians ought to be warned before rockets are fired at them. 68% said they were against the idea. But it's entirely theoretical; they don't do it, and they can't do it. If they had the ability to do it, then the war would have a very different character.
  • The poll shows how the Palestinian Arab street ranks its heroes based on how they conducted themselves in this just-ended war. From bottom to top: PA Prime Minister Rami al Hamdallah at the bottom, with 35% positive rating. Next the PA as a whole with 36%, The head of the PA,  next: Mahmoud Abbas with 39%. Then the fantasy called "the reconciliation government" at 43%. Next the PLO with 44%. Now a deep breath: Khaled Masha'al, who did not once leave his air-conditioned luxury suite in Qatar - he gets a 78% approval rating (slightly lower in Gaza, slightly higher in the West Bank). And Hamas itself, the terrorist organization that has now again presided over massive destruction of just the kind of resources that most publics would regard as essential: 88% approval. (Robert Mugabe would be envious.)
  • Not to be overlooked: non-violent "resistance" gets 62% support, but thoroughly violent warfare - "an armed intifada" in the language of the pollsters - gets a very impressive 60%. The pollsters say "It is worth mentioning that two months ago only 41% indicated support for a return to an armed intifada". Inescapable inference: the average man and woman in the street of Palestinian Arab cities and villages has been persuaded that violence against Israeli civilians works and they are getting behind the strategy. It remains only for us to point out that once you have that in place, all that's needed to sustain a war of terror is a reliable source of arms. So now see this news report from Iran's Fars News-agency ["Iranian Armed Forces Describe Arming West Bank as Forefront against Israel"datelined August 27, 2014. And this ["Islamic Jihad Leader Daoud Shihab: We promise our brothers in West Bank to convey arms located in the Gaza Strip soon"] from a Turkish Moslem source dated August 20, 2014.
  • To be a little clearer about that last point: A "larger majority" (to adopt the poll's words) "of 72% favors the transfer of Hamas’ armed approach to the West Bank. Support for emulating Hamas in the West Bank stands at 70% among West Bankers and 74% among Gazans." That's a state-of-mind worth remembering as the already-rising toll of violent and armed attacks on civilian Israelis ratchets upwards [see "02-Sep-14: Wonder how living with terror-minded neighbors works? We offer some tips"], as it has been doing in recent months.
If there's a bright, peace-compatible side to these data, we're struggling to find it.

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