(Aid,) legitimacy and the Palestinian question IX.

“The Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains the prism of pain through which most Arabs view the world” argues Shibley Telhami and concludes that “seen from the Arab side, this Israeli imperative entails exactly the sort of dominance that they reject and are revolting against; the very essence of the prism of pain through which Arabs view the world. In an era of Arab awakening, a half a billion Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa find it impossible to accept the strategic domination of a country of 8 million, especially when they don’t accept the Israeli narrative for the absence of Palestinian-Israeli peace to begin with. And they see America, and to some extent other European countries, as providing the support to make this possible. [1] Telhami’s argument is underpinned not only by his own survey data, but  by the Arab Barometer (wave II) survey too. When asked whether the Arab world should accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, most respondents opted for the ‘refusal’:

Arab Barometer wave II, q709

Looking at the results, it is very interesting, although not novel, that people living in those countries that signed any sort of peace agreement with Israel (Egypt 1979, Jordan 1994; Palestine/PLO 1993-1994-1995-) do not think significantly differently that people living elsewhere. The only exception perhaps is Egypt which has one of the highest rate of approval (36,8%) and lowest rate of refusal (55,8%). The distinction being made between country, nation and state is of particular interest in the Middle East [2], and polling institutes should formulate a question on the ‘existence of [Egypt, Jordan, Saudi-Arabia] as an Arab State’ in the future.

Sources and further reading [1] S. Telhami (2013). The World Through Arab Eyes, Chapter 5.; [2] B. Lewis (1998) Multiple Identities in the Middle East, Chapter 3, 4, 5. NY: Schocken

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