We came across this startling headline in Haaretz:”Most Right-Wing Voters Support Establishment of Palestinian State and Division of Jerusalem.” But Haaretz, as dovish and radical as it is, surely wouldn’t lie straight out, would they? So how did they come up with such a headline?
The answer is a combination of what Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA (Independent Media Review Analysis) calls “if pigs could fly” surveys, and the concept that more people only read the first two paragraphs of an article than actually read all the way down. (Readers of this column are clearly an exception.)
In fact, it almost seems as if this particular Haaretz article was specifically designed to have readers stop reading before they would actually get to the meat of the matter. The first paragraph states categorically that most Likud and Jewish Home supporters would support a Palestinian state, demilitarized, based on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem divided and the settlement blocs under Israeli control. The second and third paragraphs, however, give no further information on this startling finding, but rather provide some background on S. Daniel Abraham, who commissioned the surveys, and former congressman Robert Wexler, who runs Abraham’s research institute.
By this time, readers who might have been interested in finding out more about the surveys themselves has likely lost interest. They thus leave with the impression given by the headline and story leader – namely, that, contrary to all they have ever read or believed, even nationalist Israelis want a two-state solution and the division of Jerusalem. Coincidentally, this is also the position of both Haaretz and S. Daniel Abraham.
But those who continued reading learned much to offset their original impression. They read how the poll question was actually formulated, as follows:
“If the Government of Israel were to present for referendum a peace agreement that would:
1. put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,2. be implemented only after the Palestinians fulfill all their obligations, especially combating terrorism, and
3. be confirmed by the United States, would you support or oppose?”
Before answering, the respondents were also informed of some details of the proposed agreement:
4. Two states would be established, one for the Jewish Nation and one for the Palestinian nation,5. Arab refugees would be able to return only to the new Arab state,
6-7. the Arab state would be demilitarized and “based on” the 1967 borders,
8. the large Israeli settlement blocs would remain under Israeli sovereignty,
9. the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem would be under Palestinian sovereignty,
10. the Old City would be run jointly by the U.S., Israel and the Palestinians.
Over 57 percent of Likud Beiteinu voters said they would support such an agreement, while nearly 30 percent said they would oppose. Among respondents who said they’ll be voting for the Jewish Home party headed by Naftali Bennett, the margin was narrower: half said they would support it, and 44% said they would oppose.
It can be imagined that the following thoughts went quickly through the minds of many respondents: “End to the conflict; total peace; no risk because the Palestinians must first fulfill their obligations; no Arab refugees in Israel; settlement blocs under total Israeli control. Sounds fantastic!” Many of them – though not much more than half, actually – even went so far as to say they would indeed support such a plan.
Let’s review some of the conditions outlined in the poll question and see how they fulfill Dr. Lerner’s “if pigs could fly” definition.
1. “The agreement would ‘put an end’ to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Who could ever make such a guarantee? Whenever one Arab leader gets up to say he might consider recognizing Israel under such-and-such circumstances, others rise up to vow that they never will! In fact, almost every time “peace talks” get underway, the immediate result is a rash of terrorist attacks by Arabs who are not quite interested in an “end to the conflict.”
2. “It would be implemented only after the Palestinians fulfill all their obligations, especially combating terrorism.” Past experience, especially with the Wye Plantation Agreement, has shown that this type of clause is simply not enforced. In fact, Israel was deemed to have been in violation of Wye because it insisted on PA fulfillment before carrying out its side.
5. “Arab refugees would be able to return only to the new Arab state.” The Arabs have never agreed to anything remotely similar to this clause. In fact, several Israeli negotiators have already been forced to agree to allow some Arab refugees into Israel.
6. “The Arab state would be demilitarized.” The PA has never agreed to anything remotely similar to this clause.
8. “The large Israeli settlement blocs would remain under Israeli sovereignty.” On paper it sounds good, but how many settlement blocs and Jewish residents are actually involved? What standard of living would they enjoy surrounded on two or three sides by a hostile entity? And again, what percentage of Palestinian terrorists would actually accept this arrangement?
9. “The Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem would be under Palestinian sovereignty.” How exactly is the division of Jerusalem to be implemented on the ground? Is there to be a wall down the middle, as there was before 1948? Alternatively, will armed PA policemen patrol alongside Jewish families walking from Ramat Eshkol, for instance, to the Old City? Will PA policemen give tickets to Jewish motorists who drive from Gilo to Talpiot via Beit Tsafafa? The capital’s Jewish neighborhoods that border the Palestinian entity – will they be able to continue to grow, or even hold their own? In general, the plethora of question marks hovering over the concept of dividing Jerusalem renders the plan unsafe, illogical and unjust on the local, national and even international levels.
10. “The Old City would be run jointly by the U.S., Israel and the Palestinians.” Need more be said?
Despite all the above, misleading surveys of this nature have important lessons for us. They teach us that those pushing for the division of Jerusalem have the resources and the will to continue fighting for their catastrophic cause. And they teach us that we still have an uphill battle to convince our neighbors, not to mention the rest of the world, that Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh cannot and must not be divided again.
Let us redouble our efforts to make sure that Jerusalem remains united, in word and deed, under Jewish-Israeli rule. To learn the facts via bus tours of critical parts of Jerusalem, or to receive updates on the battle to keep Yerushalayim, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech website at www.keepjerusalem.org.
About the Author: Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now reside in Beit El.
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