One of the age-old myths about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that peace is impossible to achieve because one or both of the parties don’t actually want peace. Among the right-wing in the United States, this myth is often constructed as saying that the Arab world simply will not accept the existence of Israel and collectively wants to destroy it.
In a speech at a Jewish political function recorded for YouTube Sunday night, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) repeated this myth. Schumer told the audience that the reason there isn’t Mideast peace is because most Palestinians and Arabs don’t even think Israel should exist:
SCHUMER: The reason there is no peace in the Middle East is very simple. It’s because the majority of Palestinians and the majority of Arabs don’t believe there should be an Israel. It’s that simple. Anyone who tries to figure out a way to solve this conflict without realizing that truth will never get anywhere.
Schumer’s claim is not backed up by the facts. Polling data shows that both Palestinians and the Arab world are ready for peace and recognition of Israel, given a just resolution of the conflict:
POLLING OF PALESTINIANS: Polling conducted in 2009 indicated that 74 percent of Palestinians support a two-state solution based around the contours of the international consensus. Polling conducted in 2010 found that 71 percent support peace negotiations with Israel and that a majority of Palestinians oppose rocket attacks on the country. Last month, the top Palestinian diplomat at the UN asked that the international community support a solution based on the pre-1967 borders and mutually agreed land swaps. Additionally a 2010 poll from 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 found that a plurality of Palestinians are in favor of recognizing Israel specifically as a Jewish state.
POLLING OF ARABS: Polling from the University of Maryland and the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center in 2010 found that 86 percent of Arabs were “prepared for peace if Israel is willing to return all 1967 territories including East Jerusalem.” 85 percent of respondents endorsed a two-state solution in the same poll. The official position of the Arab League as of 2007 offers Israel recognition in return for a just negotiation of the conflict based on 1967 lines.
While there are likely to be many obstacles on the way to Middle East peace, public opinion is not one of them. Both the Israeli and Arab publics are ready for a serious solution to the conflict, and it is up to politicians to side with them and exert the pressure necessary for a just resolution of the conflict, not repeat unfounded myths. (HT: gifterphotos YouTube account)