House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told an audience at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Sunday that Palestinian culture is “infused with resentment and hatred” and that this culture “underlies the Palestinians’ and the broader Arab world’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.” Watch it:
But polling data from the last year suggests quite the opposite and should cast serious doubts on the factual basis for Cantor’s broad generalizations about Palestinians and the Arab world.
49 percent of Palestinians supported the recognition of a Jewish state while 48 percent would oppose such a move, according to a poll released at the end of 2010 by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.
Further contradicting Cantor’s broad characterizations of the Arab world’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist, results from the 2010 Brookings and Zogby poll [pdf] on Arab public opinion found that 86 percent of the Arab world would accept peace with Israel along 1967 lines (an increase of 13 percent over the 2009 poll). Only 12 percent of respondents believed that, in the case of a return to 1967 borders, “Arabs should continue to fight.”
Cantor’s factually challenged comments about Arab and Palestinian views of the peace process were warmly received by the AIPAC crowd which applauded his characterization. But the facts simply don’t support his assertions. An examination of the polling data on Arabs and Palestinians could raise serious questions about Cantor’s intellectual honesty in presenting a provably false narrative which promotes negative stereotypes about Arabs and Palestinians.