Thoughtful piece in today’s Sydney Morning Herald by Peter Manning. At a time when Israel is increasingly accused of apartheid, and many Western hacks continue visiting the country with the Zionist lobby, the average citizen is smarter than we think:
…Polls now show that while Hawke might have reflected Australian attitudes in the 1980s, in the 21st century Rudd and Gillard certainly don’t.
Individual polls can be misleading. It’s the trend of polls that matters. Occasional polls on Israel-Palestine were conducted by a small number of companies between 1946 and 1990. Over that 40-plus-year period, they tell us that: Australians were evenly divided on whether Palestine should be partitioned at all in the late 1940s; Australians supported Israel by a large majority in 1967 when it defeated Egypt and invaded and occupied the Palestinian territories; and Australians were pro-Israel in 1974, again by a large majority, following the 1973 war with Syria, Egypt and Jordan.
This support continued into the 1980s. A McNair Ingenuity poll in 1981 asked, “Are your sympathies … mainly with the Jewish people? OR mainly with the Arabic people? OR are they more or less equal?” (Results: Jewish people 28 per cent; Arab people 4 per cent; Equal 55 per cent; Don’t know 13 per cent.)
At least seven reputable polls have been conducted in the past decade touching on the question of Australian attitudes to Israel-Palestine.
In 2003, 35 per cent agreed ”with American policy on Israel and Palestine”, while 39 per cent disagreed.
In two polls in 2006, sympathy was almost evenly divided between the two sides, with two-thirds in one poll saying their sympathies were ”equal”.
But in 2007, after the Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon, 68 per cent had a negative view of Israel and, in 2009, after the war in Gaza, 24 per cent sympathised with Israel, 28 per cent with the Palestinians and 26 per cent with neither.
In 2010, 55 per cent described the conflict as ”Palestinians trying to end Israel’s occupation and form their [own] state”, while 32 per cent preferred ”Israelis fighting for security against Palestinian terrorism”.
And last year, while sympathies were almost evenly divided, 63 per cent were against settlers building on occupied land and 51 per cent thought Australia should vote ”Yes” for Palestinian statehood at the UN, compared to 15 per cent ”No” and 20 per cent ”Abstain”.
I am listing here only polls from private polling companies with established reputations in the specialist field.
The overwhelming trend shows a sharp swing since the 1980s against Israel’s image and actions among ordinary Australians.
The fact of the current disjunction between government policy and public attitudes on the Israel-Palestine issue receives almost no publicity, unlike polls on Afghanistan. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to hide.