Two recent public opinion polls relevant to the Middle East conflict make interesting reading.
The first, Australian Public Opinion on the Israel-Palestine Conflict, conducted by Research Now in May last year, asked 1,021 Australians for their responses to the following questions (NB: I've shortened some questions, omitted others, and generally provided only the top 3 responses):
1) What do you think is the main cause of the I-P conflict?
37.3% - Ancient hostility between Jews & Arabs
27.4% - Dispossession of Palestinian people by Jews who migrated to Palestine last century
26.7% - Hostility of certain Arab nations towards Israel since its creation in 1948
[MERC: Unfortunately, over 70% of the public don't seem to have a clue on this question.]
2) Which... best describes the I-P conflict:
54.8% - Palestinians trying to end Israel's occupation & form their own state
31.7% - Israelis fighting for security against Palestinian terrorism
4.1% - Both Palestinian self-determination & Israeli self-defense
[MERC: A clear majority 54/31 understand that Palestinians are an occupied people.]
3) How important is a just resolution of the I-P conflict for world peace?
57.1% - Very important
35.9% - Important
4.6% - Not very important
[MERC: 93% favour a just resolution.]
4) Do you think the solution to the I-P conflict should be based more on:
60.9% - The ongoing negotiation process
28.4% - United Nations resolutions
[MERC: The public seem to have no idea about the importance/relevance of international law.]
5) Should Israel withdraw from settlements on Palestinian land?
53.5% - Agree
24.2% - Strongly agree
17.6% - Disagree
[MERC: Almost 78% oppose Israeli settlements.]
6) Should Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to their homes & lands?
56.0% - Agree
36.6% - Strongly agree
5.7% - Disagree
[MERC: Almost 93% support the Palestinian's right of return.]
7) Final status of Jerusalem?
39.1% - Shared capital
25.1% - UN trusteeship
21.8% - Capital of Israel
[MERC: Over 62% oppose Israel's monopoly over Jerusalem.]
The second, BBC World Service Country Rating Poll (2011), surveyed people in 27 countries for their positive/negative impressions of 16 countries, including Israel. Predictably, Israel ranked 13th, ahead of Pakistan, North Korea and Iran (16th).
Australians viewed Israel negatively 58/20, while Americans were split between 41% negative, 43% positive. (Other results: UK - 66/14; Canada - 52/23; Egypt - 78/5)
I think we can safely conclude that our politicians, whose displays of love and devotion toward Israel would make any normal person blush, are out of step on this one. What a surprise!