BENNY MORRIS — The National Interest —
A well-known hadith (a saying of the Prophet Mohammed accepted by Muslims as canonical and weighty), relating to the prospective end-of-days battle between Muslims and Jews, states:
The Prophet … says: ‘The hour of judgement shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: “Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him” …’
This hadith is approvingly quoted in the 1988 Charter (or constitution) of the Hamas, the fundamentalist Palestinian organization that controls the Gaza Strip and won the 2006 Palestinian general elections.
And last week it received the approval of 73 percent of Palestinians in a poll run by American pollster Stanley Greenberg, conducted jointly by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, based in Beit Sahur in the West Bank, and the Israel Project, a peace-promoting international nonprofit organization. The finding was based on lengthy interviews with 1,010 Palestinian adults in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. About 80 percent of those polled agreed that it was the duty of all Muslims to participate in jihad to eradicate Israel.
The poll also found that 61 percent of Palestinians rejected the American-Israeli formulation for a settlement of the conflict based on two states for two peoples, one for the Arabs and one for the Jews. Only 34 percent of Palestinians questioned supported a “two-states-for-two-peoples” solution.
The poll reflects the decades of Palestinian—PLO-Palestine National Authority and Hamas—education and incitement of the population of the territories against Israel and, more generally, the Jews. Fifty-three percent of those polled favored teaching in Palestinian schools songs promoting hatred of Jews. But 66 percent of those polled adopted the PLO-PNA gradualist approach of a two-stage “solution” to the problem of Israel, approving a first stage in which there would be two states before moving onto “stage two” with the establishment of one Palestinian Arab-majority state over all of Palestine. (The Hamas rejects this strategy and speaks frankly of its goal as being the elimination of Israel at one go, without any prior or intermediate stages or agreements with the Jews.)
Most of the poll’s findings conformed to this outlook. Only 1 percent of Palestinians thought that Jerusalem should be Israel’s capital; 92 percent thought it should be Palestine’s capital. Only 3 percent thought the city should serve as the capital of both states.
The poll also reflected former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s famous denial (at Camp David in July 2000) of the Jews’ historic link to Jerusalem and, by extension, to the Land of Israel/Palestine. Seventy-two percent of those polled denied that there was any historic link between the Jewish people and Jerusalem.
Interestingly, the poll found that only 22 percent of those polled supported firing rockets into Israel, 65 percent favored a diplomatic-political solution to the conflict and only 20 percent preferred the road of violence. This perhaps reflects the average Palestinian’s tiredness of the conflict and unwillingness to pay the costs of violence while supporting the goal of Israel’s elimination. Eighty-three percent of those polled thought that PNA President Mahmoud Abbas’s priority should be creating jobs. But only 2 percent thought it should be peace talks with Israel.
Most Palestinians—64 percent—backed the current PNA initiative of unilaterally declaring statehood and obtaining UN support for such a declaration later this summer.
Perhaps the international quartet that is currently prodding Israel and the Palestinians to restart negotiations should take this poll, and what it tells us, into account when considering Netanyahu’s fears regarding the Palestinian leadership’s real aims in pressing on with its intention to unilaterally declare independence and obtain international endorsement of Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, along the 1967 borders. Abbas’s people, if this poll is to be believed, clearly regard this diplomatic initiative only as part of “stage one,” and nothing more.