The public speaks on the conflict

Encouraging survey results are released in Australia:

Fewer than one-in-two Australians are strongly pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian, a new opinion poll shows.

Both Prime Minister John Howard and federal Labor leader Kim Beazley are staunch supporters of Israel, but a national survey of 500 people has revealed a range of views on the Jewish state and the Palestinians.

The survey conducted by UMR Research for Labor-aligned lobbyists Hawker Britton asked respondents who they felt the most sympathy for – the Israelis or the Palestinians.

Twenty four per cent nominated the Israelis, 23 per cent the Palestinians, 33 per cent said neither or both and 20 per cent said they were not sure.

Of those who felt more sympathy for the Palestinians, 83 per cent said they supported Israel’s right to exist.

Unsurprisingly, Australia’s leading Zionist group is upset (and, of course, blames the media, actually incredibly pro-Israeli in this country):

Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein expressed concern at the near equal levels of support for Israel and the Palestinians shown in the poll result.

“They show the results of the relentless bias against Israel in sections of the Australian media, and demonstrate the need for Israel’s supporters to work together more effectively to promote greater understanding of Israel’s position,” he said.

Dr Rubenstein said it was a positive sign only a small number of people whose sympathies lay with the Palestinians thought Israel had no right to exist.

A more measured response appeares from the country’s Palestinian representative:

The head of the General Palestinian Delegation to Australia, Ali Kazak, said he was surprised the poll did not find more support for the Palestinian cause.

“All the indications I have are that the majority of Australians support the rights of the Palestinians and the minority support Israel and the occupation of Palestine,” he said.

Mr Kazak said those surveyed should have been asked if they support Palestine’s right to exist.

“The question should be whether people think Palestine has a right to exist because Israel already exists,” he said.

The age and gender breakdown is fascinating, so read the whole report.

The Australian Jewish News leads with the results this week and features a range of Zionist leaders who attempt to analyse the outcome. NSW State Zionist Council president Brian Levitan argues that a lack of support for Israel is probably based on – wait for it – anti-Semitism:

“When they say they support the Palestinians, what do they mean? They have been offered a state three time and have rejected it.”

Those ungrateful Palestinians really should stop complaining.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Grahame Leonard issues the most desperate statement. He says support for the Palestinians is likely to come only from “far-left groups”:

“[The left] is always pro-victim and they see the Palestinians as victims. Often the pro-left circles are pro-victim but this does not necessarily mean that they are anti-Israel. Our own knowledge of Israel suggests that they are victims of their leadership.”

Let me get this straight. Leonard is seriously suggesting that only “far-left” elements would support the Palestinians. It wouldn’t be because they’ve lived under occupation for nearly forty years under brutal Israeli occupation. No, of course not. “We’re” obsessed with blaming the victim. Actually, I’m very comfortable blaming the aggressor, Israel.

These poll results are pretty encouraging. I’m surprised that support for the Palestinians is so high considering the barrage, especially since 9/11, of anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian propaganda in the Western media and by dog-whistling governments. Such results are a slap in the face to Zionists who believe that Westerners automatically accept Israel’s aggression as “self-defence.”

US public support for Israel is high – and after all, real change won’t happen until the US government realises that its current, blind pro-Israel stance is unsustainable – but the situation is likely to change with a growing Muslim population and politically active citizens of the Islamic faith.

The struggle continues.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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