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Sometimes the truth can be found in the oddest of places, if one knows where to look. Even in poll results.
A new study by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research bears this out.
Released last week, it raises three difficult questions for all those who continue to believe that Israel must make concessions to win peace with the Palestinians.
For example, when asked about the August 31 terror attack near Hebron that left four Israelis dead, including a pregnant mother of six, a majority of Palestinians – 51 percent – said they supported the assault.
Yes, you read that correctly. Most Palestinians surveyed had no difficulty declaring they backed a horrific act of murder against civilians.
They had no qualms – moral or otherwise – about cheering a madman who opened fire and pumped bullets into a vehicle carrying Jews.
So here’s question number one to supporters of further Israeli concessions:
Do you really believe Israel can negotiate with people who applaud the slaughter of innocents?
Not surprisingly, the results of this particular survey received little to no attention in the mainstream press. After all, it doesn’t sit too nicely with the narrative that much of the media has been selling us all these years about our supposed partners in peace.
Can you imagine if a poll of Israelis had produced similar findings?
Of course not – for the simple reason that we don’t believe in violence, terror and bloodshed.
When it comes to the Palestinians, however, most observers seem to shrug off such results, as if they have little meaning.
But that is most definitely not the case.
Like it or not, the numbers speak volumes about the other side and its dubious commitment to ending the conflict and embracing reconciliation.
But that’s not all the Palestinian survey revealed. It also found that 66 percent wanted the Palestinian leadership to pull out of the negotiations with Israel when the building freeze in Judea and Samaria expired.
Clearly, the Palestinians are not very keen to reach a deal if they cannot countenance the continuation of talks just because they don’t get their way on everything.
So here’s question number two to those who put the onus on Israel:
How do you expect the Jewish state to make peace with people who are not even willing to continue to negotiate?
Perhaps the most interesting numbers in the survey, however, had to do with the attitudes of Palestinians toward their leadership.
Some 26 percent said the Hamas regime in Gaza was the legitimate Palestinian government, while 30 percent said Mahmoud Abbas and his associates in Ramallah are the rightful Palestinian leaders. Another 30 percent of Palestinians said they believe neither crew to be their legitimate representatives.
In effect, this means Israel is busy trying to negotiate with a Palestinian Authority that fewer than one-third of Palestinians even recognize as their government – which should cast grave doubt about the value of any deal that might possibly be forged.
And this brings us to question number three for the peace processors:
How do you justify talking to a Palestinian leadership that does not enjoy the confidence of its own people?
These queries, of course, are for the most part rhetorical. I have no doubt that most of those who still have faith in our ostensible partners are beyond the point where facts matter all that much.
Nonetheless, there has got to be a limit as to how much reality they can continue to ignore, doesn’t there?
In any event, for those of us with our eyes wide open and our minds still clear, it is essential to digest this information and be aware of what is going on around us.
The peace process may sputter along, with talks on again and off again, depending on the political whims of the Obama administration, the Palestinian and Arab leadership, and the Israeli government.
But don’t let the cautious optimism of Hillary Clinton or the measured cadences of George Mitchell fool you.
Like it or not, our foes still hate us – very, very much.
The rest, as they say, is commentary.
Michael Freund is founder of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that helps “lost Jews” return to Zion. His Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the third week of each month.
About the Author: Michael Freund is the Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s leading English-language daily, and he previously served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
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