NEW YORK – The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has released a poll last week showing that a majority of Americans support the Gaza withdrawal plan, while about 25% of Americans are opposed. ADL took out large ads in papers throughout the U.S., signed by its National Chair, Barbara Balser, and its National Director, Abraham H. Foxman, proclaiming this result. The following arguments explain why, at best, this poll result has little value.
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)’s President Morton A. Klein, himself a former biostatistician who worked with two-time Nobel Prize winner Professor Linus Pauling of Stanford University and the California Institute of Technology, said that “the results of these polls are essentially meaningless. There is little value in polling a group on an issue where the population polled is either misinformed by propaganda myths or uninformed of the critical issues determining a certain decision. In addition, there were serious bias problems with the wording of the question. It promoted giving support for the Gaza withdrawal plan.
“Firstly, most Jews and Americans believe that (a) Israel’s choice here is to get rid of all of Gaza or keep all of Gaza with its 1 million Palestinian Arabs. They have been told repeatedly and falsely that there is a serious demographic problem for Israel in ‘keeping Gaza’. But in fact, most of us are unaware that 88% of Gaza, where virtually all of Gaza’s 1 million Palestinian Arab residents live, was given over to the control of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 by then PM Yitzchak Rabin. (Remember the Oslo process began with a Gaza-Jericho first theme.)
Therefore, Israel is only talking about giving away the 12% of Gaza that remains under Israel’s control. This is the Jewish section of Gaza, a beachside community where 9000 Jews and 2000 Palestinian Arabs live. Israel is therefore planning to give away only the small section of Gaza (Gush Katif) in which 82% of the inhabitants are Jewish. Even Professor Shai Feldman, former chair of Tel Aviv University’s Jaffe Center, and present director of Brandeis University’s Middle East Center, publicly said that there is no demographic issue with respect to the Gaza situation.
“Secondly, most Jews and Americans believe that the Jews of Gaza live in caravans or temporary housing in the middle of major Arab population centers that are dangerous and ugly slums like Gaza City. The truth is that the 9000 Jews live in a beautiful beachside community with gorgeous modern homes and gardens, beautiful synagogues, schools, and libraries — not to mention the beautiful organic farms, plant nurseries, and manufacturing plants there. If this setting were in a waterfront area in the U.S., only the wealthy could live there.
“Thirdly, almost all Jews and Americans believe that the Jews living here are wild-eyed, ugly, religious fanatics and radicals sent here by a far-right wing Israeli government. The truth is that they were sent to live here by the Israeli Labor government of Golda Meir and Shimon Peres. And when Yitzchak Rabin came to lay a cornerstone in this Jewish section of Gaza, he said that the Jews would be in Gaza for ‘generations and generations.’
Those who have visited the Jewish section of Gaza know that the people living here are the sweetest, kindest people you’ll ever meet. They are physically and spiritually beautiful. They dress in clean and modern clothes and have the sweetest and most beautiful children. Also, 30% of them are not even religious but wanted to make a home for themselves in this affordable and attractive community. I was impressed that not a single Gaza Jew made negative or personal comments about PM Sharon or Shimon Peres, but only expressed confusion and misunderstanding of their policies.
“Fourthly, many Jews and Americans think that the Jews took over Arab land and homes when they moved to Gaza. The truth is that there was only sand and rocks in the area the Jews took over — no homes at all — it was G-d forsaken land. Israel also took every precaution to make sure no Arabs had a legitimate deed to this land. Only then did Israelis begin to turn a desert wasteland into an oasis. Not a single Arab or Arab home was removed to make room for Israeli Jews.
“Fifth, most Jews and Americans believe that there is a military benefit to leaving the Jewish section of Gaza. The truth is otherwise. The Chief of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) General Moshe Ya’alon said, ‘the Gaza disengagement plan will blow up in our faces.’ Avi Dichter, chief of the Shin Bet, and Mr. Farkash, chief of Military Intelligence, both said the Plan could promote more terror because it will be seen as rewarding terror. Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens and Natan Sharansky said this will increase terror.
Former Deputy Chief of Military Intelligence, Yaacov Amidror, wrote a paper for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs stating that this plan will turn Gaza into a Hamas terror state. And a recent report by the IDF said that the plan by the Arab terror groups is to launch a major terror war after the withdrawal is complete. Hamas has had many rallies proclaiming this plan as a victory for ‘resistance.’ Only recently, the spokesmen for Hamas, Ahmed al-Bahar said, “‘The painful and qualitative blows which the Palestinian resistance dealt to the Jews and their soldiers over the past four and a half years led to the decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip We believe that the resistance is the only way to pressure the Jews.'”
“Even when Prime Minister Sharon was asked at a meeting with Jewish leaders in Washington last week what the reason was for this Gaza withdrawal, he only said that the world wouldn’t let Israel sit still and do nothing — that Europe and the U.S. would pressure Israel to produce more concessions if Israel didn’t do this. PM Sharon never mentioned military benefits, security benefits, economic benefits or any benefits of border arrangements.”
In reference to the ADL poll, Klein added that, “one would never poll Americans as to whether we should put more money into chemotherapy or radiation therapy or surgery research to treat cancer — because the average American doesn’t know enough about cancer research to make an intelligent judgment. In the same manner, when both Jews and others not only know little but have been fed propaganda myths about Gaza, their answers become truly meaningless. In addition, the way the Gaza withdrawal question was phrased in the ADL poll is a classic in biased polling questions.
The ADL poll asked whether you agree that ‘Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza is a bold step to move the peace process forward.’ The ADL question states that Israel has already decided and uses the strongly positive images of the words ‘bold steps’ and ‘moving the peace process forward.’ This is hardly neutral phrasing and pushes those asked the question to answer yes. This is an old technique in getting answers to a poll that the pollster wants.
There is even a professional term for this in the polling business; it’s called a push-poll which renders the results useless. (Even in a trial, a lawyer is not permitted to ask a ‘leading question’ which pushes the witness to a certain answer.) To get a serious answer to this issue, especially in a situation where there is such misinformation, a possible fair way to have asked the question would have been, ‘Do you support or not support Israel’s giving the Jewish section of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority and removing its 9000 Jewish inhabitants.’
“We would think that an organization like ADL, which was tragically wrong in its strong support of the Oslo process that promised peace and an end to incitement and terror in return for giving Arabs land, would be more careful in strongly supporting a policy which again gives the Arabs land — but here there is nothing in return. (Also, why is ADL praising taking more ‘risk for peace’. Hasn’t eleven years of Israel’s taking ‘risk for peace’ shown it to be a historic mistake that has cost Israel 1500 precious Jewish lives and over 15,000 of its citizens maimed.
“What would most Jews in America answer to ADL’s poll question if they knew that 88% of Gaza was already given away where all the Gaza Arabs live — that the 12% of land being given under this plan is 82% Jewish — and that Israel is getting nothing in return, while most acknowledge that there are no military benefits.”
“We think most people would not support any more unilateral concessions of land until Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority dismantled and disarmed the terror groups, arrested the terrorists, and ended all the incitement, closed the bomb factories, and changed the names of the schools and sports teams named after suicide bombers.
All of these actions were required of the Palestinian Authority by Oslo eleven years ago and the Road Map two years ago. We are all still waiting for these obligations to be fulfilled by Abbas. We believe that ADL and all Jewish organizations’ should have as their priority to pressure and publicly demand that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority begin to transform their society and move toward a serious and long-lasting peace by immediately and fully implementing the obligations they have repeatedly agreed to since September 13, 1993.”