European poll reveals changing perceptions of conflict in Palestine

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 ongoing 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 report presents the findings of a research study conducted by the polling institution ICM Government & Social Research Unit on behalf of Al Jazeera, MEMO and the EMRC. ICM interviewed 7,045 adults across six major European countries: Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

See Middle East Monitor:

Key findings

A few of the most salient points drawn out from our study include the following. Of the adults surveyed:

* 50% believe that being critical of Israel does NOT make a person anti-Semitic;
* 70% believe that the pro-Israel lobby influences the media;
* 67% believe that the pro-Israel lobby influences the political agenda;
* 58% believe that European Law should not be changed to make it easier for those accused of war crimes to visit Europe;
* 65% believe that Israel does not treat all religious groups equally;
* 45% believe that Hamas should be INCLUDED in Israel-Palestine peace talks;
* 41% believe that Israel’s oppression of Palestinians is one of the biggest obstacles to peace in the Middle East;
* 40% believe that Israeli settlements are the biggest obstacles to peace in the Middle East;
* 51% thought of the Gaza Strip when they heard the words “Israel-Palestine conflict”;
* 34% believe that Israel is not a democracy but 65% believe that (democracy or not) there is oppression and domination by one religious group in Israel over another;
* 13% consider Israel to be the bigger threat to world peace compared with only 7% who said the same of the Palestinians;
* 53% were aware that Israel’s economic blockade of the Gaza Strip is illegal;
* 64% stated that the Israeli armed response to the boats carrying supplies to the Gaza Strip in May 2010 was illegal;
* 60% were aware that the Israeli ground incursion into the Gaza Strip during the winter of 2008-2009 was illegal;
* 48% think that Israel exploits the history of the suffering of the Jewish people in Europe to generate public support;
* 39% believe that the Israel-Palestine conflict fuels “Islamophobia” in Europe; and
* 54% believe that Jerusalem should be a neutral international city.

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