By a more than 3-to-1 margin, Americans blame Palestinians more for the Gaza conflict than Israelis, according to two new surveys.Also, another interesting take on things:
A survey of 800 registered voters by The Israel Project found that 56 percent of respondents placed more of the blame on Palestinians, while 18 percent faulted the Israelis more. The poll also found that 66 percent of Americans blamed "Hamas leaders who control Gaza" for "the current humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip," while 17 percent said "Israeli leaders" were more at fault.
And in a Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 41 percent of those surveyed say Hamas is "most responsible for the outbreak in violence," to just 12 percent who blame Israel. Thirty-nine percent responded "don't know." The poll also found that Americans sympathized more with Israel than the Palestinians by a 49-11 margin.
The Pew poll also found that Americans approve of Israel's actions in Gaza by a 40-33 margin, but 50 percent of those surveyed said Israel had "responded about right" compared to 24 percent who felt the Jewish state had "gone too far." And only 9 percent of those polled felt the United States should publicly criticize Israel, while 39 percent said the U.S. should give Israel public support and 38 percent felt it should "say or do nothing."
A partisan gap existed in the Pew poll. Republicans approved of Israel's military action by 55-20 percent, while Democrats disapproved of the campaign by a 45-29 margin.
Asked in The Israel Project poll whether the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is "really about land" or is about "ideology and religion" and will only be settled when the two sides "acknowledge each other's right to exist," 73 percent favored the latter explanation to 19 percent for the former.
Immediately after Operation Cast Lead began, an internationally published columnist wrote a series of articles entitled, "Hamas, Damascus, Iran - The New Axis of Evil," which stated the sovereign government of the Gaza Strip has "elements similar to Nazism." The author described Hamas as "lunatics who have butchered their own people," stating its leadership is "trying to bring destruction upon its people," whom it is "holding hostage."
Who penned such words? Was it William Kristol? Walid Phares? Alan Dershowitz?
No, it was Muhammad Ali Ibrahim, an Egyptian MP and editorialist for the state-controlled newspaper Al-Gumhouriyya, and his anthology reveals one of the most overlooked elements of the Israeli-Hamas conflict to date: the enlightened self-interest of many Arab nations, especially Egypt, is leading them to quietly align their foreign policy toward pursuing Israeli objectives. Chief among these is an abiding indifference toward, or antipathy for, the Hamas-led government of Gaza, discussions of a ceasefire conducted at a snail's pace, and the possible collaboration of two Arab governments in cutting off weapons smuggling to Gaza terrorists. These nations' reaction provides a glimmer of hope that in the modern Arab Street, there are some forces so radical mainstream Arab leadership will have nothing to do with them.
Egypt brokered the last Israeli-Hamas ceasefire in June, which Hamas systematically violated and refused to renew when it expired last December 19. In turn, Egypt and other moderates have exposed and attempted to isolate Hamas from the very beginning of hostilities. Ibrahim's newspaper columns followed an immediate dispatch written by Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party, which blamed Gaza's terrorist leadership - and not the familiar Zionist enemy - for violence. "Hamas is responsible for the turn that events have taken," the article read, describing the Strip's leaders as "reckless" and "delusional." Egytian officials also humiliated Gaza's leadership by announcing on December 28 that Hamas refused to allow wounded Palestinians to leave Gaza. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said, "The wounded are barred from crossing" into Egypt. He added, "We are waiting for the wounded to cross." However, it is the deeds of the largest Arab nation, not merely its words, that offend the Islamist entity.[...]
Egypt is the largest Arab nation in the world and looked to as the chief negotiator for the region. With an intractable Hamas being operated by terror-sponsors in Damascus and Tehran, the nations of Syria and Iran (themselves joined in a mutual entente) threaten Egyptian hegemony.
More to the point, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia share a common concern: Hamas' Islamofascist comrades have long desired to topple moderate, non-theocratic regimes.
The Saudi royal family's promotion of Wahhabi Islam is essentially a protection racket. The Land of the Nile is faced with its own extremist, Islamist movement -- exacerbated partly by U.S. policy. The Bush Doctrine pressured Cairo to hold free and fair elections, as it did the Palestinian Authority, and in both cases radical Islamists gained ascendancy. In Egypt, members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood gained numerous seats in parliament as "independents." The last thing Cairo wants is a miniature Taliban on the Sinai border inspiring its own theocrats to join hands with foreign fighters.
All things being equal, there is little reason to believe the average government official in Egypt, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia would not secretly love to see Israel pushed into the sea. But politics makes strange bedfellows -- and right now, Egypt understands its survival as a secular state is tied to that of Israel.