ICM European poll reveals massive disconnect between governments and people over conflict in Palestine 14Mar11 March 17, 2011

Middle East Monitor – MEMO – 14 March 2011

Al Jazeera Centre for Studies in conjunction with the Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and the European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC) at Exeter University carried out a joint study in January 2011 to gauge British and European perceptions on the on-going Israel-Palestine conflict.

No major study of this kind has been undertaken on a European level since October 2003, when a survey conducted by the European Commission revealed that approximately 60% of Europeans saw Israel as the greatest threat to world peace.

This latest research by the polling institution ICM Government and Social Research Unit, was carried out in six major European countries: Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. The following are some of the key findings:

1. A mere 10% of Europeans agree that their countries should support Israel rather than the Palestinians; while almost four folds, 39%, disagree.

2. A clear majority of Europeans, 58%, oppose changing the law to make it easier for those accused of war crimes to visit Europe, only 10% agree to make such changes. More interestingly, in UK, where this issue is hotly debated, with Conservatives are committed to change the law even though only 7% supporting the change. This was the lowest recorded percentage in Europe. It should be note that 2000 people were polled in the UK with margin error of 2%. Yet the government is determined to press ahead with this unpopular policy.

3. 34% believe Israel is NOT a democracy, while less than half, 45%, believe it is a democracy. In Italy and Spain: 41% believe Israel is not a democracy.

4. 65% believe Israel does NOT treat all religious groups the same, only 13% believe it does.

5. 45% of Europeans believe Hamas should be included in the Peace Process, only 25% believe it should be excluded (in UK 44% want Hamas to be included, while only 19% are against. Interestingly, a recent survey by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research for opinions of British Jews showed that 52% supported negotiating with Hamas for peace.

6. 50% do not agree that criticising Israel is anti-Semitic, while 12% consider it anti-Semitic

The full report entitled “European Public Perceptions of the Israel-Palestine Conflict” is now available for download from the MEMO website.

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