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July 09, 2019

NY Times Cites Poll, Hides Palestinian Support for Violence

The New York Times has struggled to accurately describe polls this year. In January, editor Jonathan Weisman misrepresented Pew polling data to describe a nonexistent surge in Israeli support for the United States under President Trump.

In March, David Halbfinger, the newspaper’s bureau chief in Jerusalem, took liberties with another Pew poll, again in order to cast Israelis in a negative light.

The newspaper did somewhat better in today’s article, by Isabel Kershner, about a decrease in Palestinian protests. Kershner points to a recent poll to help give readers a sense of Palestinian attitudes toward “nonviolent resistance.”

“An opinion poll by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in June found that only 23 percent of Palestinians saw nonviolent resistance as the most effective way of achieving statehood,” she wrote. And indeed, the July poll did include such a finding. But that’s a very partial account of the poll.

In the context of Kershner’s piece, which refers to a “lull in grass-roots protests” and a “relative calm” that the author attributes in part to “war weariness” on the part of the Palestinians, and which spotlights Palestinians who are more interested in jobs than demonstrations, the poll finding seems to be evidence of Palestinian abandoning their belief in conflict.

But a closer look at the survey itself, by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research, tells a very different story. In part, the reason a relatively small proportion of Palestinians support nonviolent protest is because a relatively large proportion support armed violence.

The poll found that

• “34% prefer waging ‘an armed struggle against the Israeli occupation.’”
• “38% think armed struggle is the most effective means” of achieving statehood.
• “38% chose armed struggle” as the most effective means of ending the occupation.
• “47% support a return to an armed intifada”

In other words, depending on how the question is worded between one third and one half of the population support violence against Israel—violence that has typically involved attacks on civilians. This is no less relevant, and perhaps more important for reader understanding of the conflict, than the finding shared by the Times about low levels of support for nonviolent resistance.

But the newspaper ignored the more incriminating poll results that contextualize the finding Kershner shared and shine a light on Palestinian views in general. Why?

Posted by gi at July 9, 2019 04:06 PM

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