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News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
New JMCC poll shows pluralities of Palestinian youth prefer Marwan Barghouti and the two-state solution; PSR poll shows unfavorable Palestinian views of the United $tates
October 13, 2016
A couple days ago the Jerusalem Post published a seemingly disingenuous or illiterate article(1) discussing a new, September 28-October 1 poll(2) from the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre (JMCC).
The JPost article titled “Pollster: No potential successor to Abbas has youth support” begins with, “If PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not run in the next Palestinian elections, no single leader is likely to garner a significant percentage of the youth vote.” The article may be a response to a recent Haaretz interview with former Mossad director Efraim Halevy, who supported “talking” with Marwan Barghouti if the Palestinians choose Barghouti, to Arab Israelis’ visits with the imprisoned Palestinian leader(3), or to renewed interest in the Mahmoud Abbas succession question related to a brief hospitalization of the 81-year-old international figure. Marwan Barghouti emself has called for new leaders while raising whether there is a need to curtail the Palestinian Authority. The main effect of the JPost article will be to tolerate the status quo. It benefits mostly the United States, the hegemonic settler imperialist entity.
40% of the people surveyed were students and included Palestinians as young as 15. Unlike another organization that properly asked “who do you want to be the president after him,”(4) JMCC did ask “whom would you vote for” (checked against the Arabic). The responses included Barghouti, exile Mohammed Dahlan, Rami Hamdallah, Ismail Haniyeh, and Khaled Meshaal – as if they were all running in the same election. These five people belong to only two parties. Even if Barghouti ran again as an independent – which seems less likely after what happened in 2005 – the idea that either Fatah or Hamas would somehow have two nominees running against each other while Barghouti is running, or while the other party has only one candidate, would be far-fetched. Barghouti would get substantially more of the youth vote than the 13.4% (3% margin of error at the 95% confidence level) reported by the JMCC. The 13.4% isn’t statistically different from the 14.8% of Palestinian adults over 18 whom JMCC itself claimed would “vote” for Barghouti three months ago(5) so to suggest Barghouti has a problem with youth in particular is misleading. In addition, other surveys have indicated a majority of Palestinians would vote for Barghouti in two-way races. To say in such specific words that no nominee would get “a significant percentage of the youth vote,” and suggest that the smaller JMCC-reported plurality preferring Barghouti means there wouldn’t be at least a large plurality voting for Barghouti, is deceptive or ignorant. Question Q27, in the more recent poll, has more to do with ideal preference for a President after now-unelected Abbas leaves office, regardless of who actually runs in a future election. Importantly, though 28.9% answered “I don’t know” (26.0%) or “didn’t decide yet” (2.9%) – they might know or decide if an election were held – only 5% of the youth answered “I won’t vote” (2.9%) or “no one” (2.1%). Q27 shows that a plurality of Palestinian youth, ages 15-29, want Barghouti to be President as their #1 choice without being prompted to name Barghouti, who was taken when many Palestinian youth were young children. But the poll results were construed to suggest a majority of Palestinian youth would view a Barghouti presidency unfavorably or that Barghouti wouldn’t win a real election or be able to govern.
Not that it escaped the notice of JPost or a certain JMCC poll “supervisor” (who happens to reportedly also be a member of a small party that may or may not have an interest in downplaying the popularity of Fatah and Hamas leaders), but it is the case both that no date for a Palestinian presidential election has been set and that Barghouti is still behind the Green Line in fucking I$raeli prison with multiple life sentences and has been for almost a decade and a half. Palestinians’ election difficulties, including in local elections recently, reflect their long colonial situation. Until there is a major change in arrangements impacting Palestinians’ self-determination, there will continue to be leadership issues at least periodically. To speak of “leadership vacuum” in global media in this context smacks of double standards applied to Palestine and other nations. Obviously, when various potential presidents aren’t even allowed to visit the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, as happened in 2005 when Palestine last had a presidential election, and some Palestinians collaborate with I$rael in this situation, it may be difficult for a clear favorite to emerge in some polls.
To the extent that Palestine does have a leadership vacuum, it may be no greater than AmeriKKKa’s a year and a half ago or now. The United $tates doesn’t have an occupier interfering with its elections – the united $tates is itself an occupier and colonizer in oppressed nation territory inside and outside North America – and it is likely only a plurality of amerikans, many of them unenthusiastic, will elect their next president, Clinton. Yet, both Israeli media, some Arabs, and many others in the world, show more interest in the amerikan presidential race than in whether Marwan Barghouti’s release would be good for peace, with some even suggesting months ago that Palestinians as a whole favored Clinton while flattering Obama and repeating the tail-wags-the-dog myth about amerikan-I$raeli relations.(6) The notion that the Palestinian adult and youth pluralities favoring Barghouti above all others are insignificant, while the amerikan plurality favoring Clinton is supposedly significant, could lead to or be engendered by a twisted desire to support the latter and not the former, or support/work with u.$. leadership and not Palestinian leadership. As is often the case, having an anti-amerikan orientation would be helpful. When one knows the dominant, majority-exploiter united $nakes isn’t going to do anything except keep oppressing the Palestinians, the need for Barghouti’s freedom becomes clearer.
What Palestinian youth think is of interest because the beginning of the Nakba and the establishment of the Israeli settler entity are still in the living memory of some Palestinian elders while many Palestinian youth in the 15-29 range were born after the First Intifada and the signings of the Oslo I and Oslo II Accords. Most Palestinian children younger than 15 are now too young to have been alive at any point during the al-Aqsa Intifada. There are ways in which Palestinian youth and adult children could be more or less radical than their parents and grandparents who remember more. So it is notable, for example, there may have been a decrease in the number of Palestinian youth preferring a single, Palestinian state in Palestine and a slight increase in the number preferring the two-state solution, in comparison with a previous JMCC youth poll(7), conducted in April. However, for various reasons, the two-state solution shouldn’t be regarded as less radical than attempting the I$raeli one-state solution. Also, it seems debatable how much leftism or ultra-leftism in favor of skipping the two-state solution should be regarded as actually radical, when there are so many Palestinians who could support the two-state solution on an anti-amerikan basis and many opposing the two-state solution have expressed a conciliatory attitude toward u.$. hegemony or harbored illusions about either the amerikkkan population or prospects for socialist revolution before u.$. hegemony ends.
Certainly, no Westerner should be blocking the two-state solution if the Palestinians would like it and the united $tates is actually against it. A Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) poll conducted in February(8) shows that most (34.2 + 29.0 = 63.2) respondents in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank somewhat (34.2%) or strongly (29.0%) disagreed with the statement, “The United States government supports the Palestinian right to a state.” A majority somewhat (40.8%) or strongly (22.9%) disagreed with, “The US Government is committed to working toward a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” A plurality disagreed with, “Most Americans support peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” A large majority had a somewhat (28.4%) or very (55.9%) unfavorable “impression of United States foreign policy.” A large majority (74%) somewhat (46%) or strongly (29%) disagreed with, “The United States is an ‘honest broker’ between Israelis and Palestinians.” A majority somewhat (43.6%) or strongly (26.0%) disagreed with, “The United States can be trusted and relied upon by the PA.” Palestinians had less negative views of the European Union and Germany. Among four choices including the United Nations (23.7%), a plurality, 31%, wanted the European Union to “play a more active role as a mediator between Israelis and Palestinians.” With the united $tates, the percentage was just 8.3%. A majority thought the amerikan-Palestinian relationship was somewhat (35%) or very (30%) weak. Give several choices for a one-word description, a majority thought the amerikan-Palestinian relationship could be best-described with “unstable” (38.2%) or “fragile” (33.9%). No more than 6% picked any of the other seven words, “honest,” “resilient,” “friendly,” “deep,” “strong,” “respectful,” and “cordial.”
Some of these Palestinian adults favored Clinton and Democrats. 19% of respondents hadn’t heard of Clinton. A plurality had a somewhat (12.7%) or very (36.7%) unfavorable impression of Clinton. Although, a majority agreed with Clinton’s words spoken in 2014, “there is a necessary imperative to continue to try to achieve a resolution between Israel and the Palestinians.” Most hadn’t heard of Trump, but 5.4% had a somewhat unfavorable impression of Trump, and 22.8% had a very unfavorable impression. A majority answered “makes no difference / same” to the question, “Who will be a better [amerikan] President for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?”
The thoughts and attitudes of Palestinian youth, specifically, could be different enough and very important at some point or in some contexts. It seems less clear from Palestinians’ own perspective that any adult-youth difference in the united $tates will make a big difference internationally, at least not at the state level in the short term. The united $nakes, the #1 exploiter, oppressor and aggressor in the world, is a settler entity that has been in existence much longer than I$rael. And young amerikans, increasingly separated from people who fight/have fought in wars at risk to their own lives, actually may end up being more supportive of adventurous foreign policy to preserve their share of the pie. The united $nakes opposes Marwan Barghouti’s release, and it opposes the two-state solution despite pretending to support it. It opposes peace both in the world and in the Middle East. The international united front against the amerikans in the matter of the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict must become stronger. Marwan Barghouti must be freed. The delusions, that get in the way of that, about amerikans must be squashed no matter how unfair it may seem to some activists in the united $tates.
If a presidential election were scheduled, Barghouti were free, and possible contenders started campaigning or declining to participate, Barghouti’s true support would be fully revealed. To use poll results as an excuse to not support Barghouti’s release could be self-fulfilling in that some Palestinians may not take Barghouti seriously as a prospective candidate as long as Barghouti would have to govern under close imperialist supervision and monitoring from inside an I$raeli prison.
It is understandable that some Palestinians have reasons of varying quality for not wanting Marwan Barghouti to be free or become president. None of them justify the failure of non-Palestinians to support Barghouti’s release. Even if there are good reasons for Barghouti to not participate in an election, as long as Barghouti is in prison Palestinians won’t be able to move past considering Barghouti for leadership.
Perhaps the best reason for Barghouti to not go free at the moment would be that the Palestinian nation would benefit in public opinion and international contexts from having an elected imprisoned president, whether Barghouti can carry out presidential duties effectively or not. Some Palestinians have said exactly that. Nobody should be deluded about eir ability to ensure such a result, however, and the recent postponement of local elections has changed things. Among other things, the delay means there won’t be a presidential election soon. The idea of waiting for progress in national reconciliation and elections, before freeing Barghouti, just took a hit.
Besides showing a plurality preferring Marwan Barghouti to everyone else, the JMCC youth poll also shows a plurality, 44%, preferring the two-state solution. Not just supporting it, but even preferring it. Only 21.4% preferred a binational state. A majority opposed “the continuation of military operations against Israeli targets” at the time the poll was conducted. 35.7% did support that continuation. A majority somewhat supported (36.4%) or strongly supported (13.8%) “the resumption of peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel,” but almost half opposed. A plurality thought the Oslo Accords made no difference. 40.4% supported boycotting “all Israeli products.” A majority didn’t. Respondents weren’t asked about boycotting any amerikan products despite the prime role of the fraternal settler united $nakes in the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A plurality, almost half, thought ISIS harmed the Palestinian cause. Only 2.2% thought ISIS served the cause. Marwan Barghouti has supported boycotts, independent Palestinian statehood, and the two-state solution with wide tactical latitude and a diminished role for negotiations, and has opposed ISIS.
It is not for non-Palestinians to be choosing Marwan Barghouti – or anyone else – to be the Palestinians’ president, for them. The non-Palestinians and any Palestinians collaborating with the amerikans and I$raelis in keeping Barghouti in prison are the ones opposing Palestinian self-determination. Regardless of any misgiving about letting Abbas go finally, it is clear from various surveys that Palestinians would be relatively happy with Barghouti, as a replacement or when Abbas can no longer be the Palestinians’ international figure. Others can either respect that and tolerate a two-state outcome that some Palestinian majority would be fine with, or deal with the consequences of having an elected imprisoned Palestinian as president or having an unelected or illegitimate replacement for Abbas who may look even more like a puppet.
In two days, the six-month countdown to the fifteen anniversary of Barghouti’s abduction starts. Within six months, Abbas may be dead and gone after resisting calls to name a successor other than Barghouti. Israel: get your shit together.
A non-ISIS Islamic state in Palestine is always a possibility, not necessarily a bad one in the current global economic and political environment, when there is so much contempt for doing things the democratic and secular way. Such a state may have to arise to counter the growth of ISIS that will happen if international relations in the region don’t improve. ◊
1. “Pollster: No potential successor to Abbas has youth support,” 2016 October 11. http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Pollster-No-potential-successor-to-Abbas-has-youth-support-469888
2. “Poll No. 88 - Sept 2016 - Youth poll on Politics, Education & The Future,” 2016 October 9. http://jmcc.org/documentsandmaps.aspx?id=873
3. “Arab MK visits archterrorist in prison; Erdan livid,” 2016 October 7. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/218748
“Liberman: Ignore, Ban Arab MKs,” 2016 October 9. http://hamodia.com/2016/10/09/liberman-ignore-ban-arab-mks/
“Likud minister blasts Joint Arab List head for visiting terrorist in prison,” 2016 October 9. http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=37009
4. “Waiting and impatience: Palestine, WikiLeaks release timing, and persistent belief in change in AmeriKKKa,” 2016 October. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-10-09-news-Palestine-WikiLeaks-election-public-opinion.md
“Free Marwan Barghouti, oppose the United $nakes,” 2016 October. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-10-12-news-Free-Marwan-Barghouti.md
“Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (61),” 2016 September 27. http://www.pcpsr.org/en/node/668
5. “Poll No. 87 - July 2016 - Local Elections & Stalled Negotiations,” 2016 July 26. http://jmcc.org/documentsandmaps.aspx?id=872
6. “Why Palestinians prefer Clinton over Trump,” 2016 January 30. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/03/us-presidentials-trump-clinton-israeli-palestinian-conflict.html
7. “Youth Poll - April 2016 - Politics, Social Media and Conservatism,” 2016 April 24. http://jmcc.org/documentsandmaps.aspx?id=871
8. “Palestinian perception of Germany and its policy on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” 2016 March 7. http://www.pcpsr.org/en/node/632