18 May 2008

Lettera da Lhasa numero 98. The Struggle for Palestinian Hearts and Minds: Violence and Public Opinion in the Second Intifada

Lettera da Lhasa numero 98. The Struggle for Palestinian Hearts and Minds: Violence and Public Opinion in the Second Intifada
by Roberto Scaruffi

Jaeger, D. A., E. F. Klor, S. H. Miaari, M. D. Paserman, The Struggle for Palestinian Hearts and Minds: Violence and Public Opinion in the Second Intifada, Working Paper 13956, NBER, Cambridge, MA, USA, April 2008,
(Jaeger, April 2008).

This research examines the influences of the Second Intifada on Palestinian public opinion. The analysis is based on pertinent opinion polls.
There are the data sources:

There are different types of violence from both sides, and from different fractions, with correlated public opinion emotional reactions. Here, the focus is on the “Palestinians” emotional reactions.

War is always terror, terrorism. It is the function of war to destroy and terrorise. There, it is going on a long, infinite, war between two sides, with inevitable international interferences. Replacing the British domination in Palestine, a new State was created, Israel, while other territories were occupied from bordering States. Later, somebody claimed that they were “Palestinians”, that their lands had been in some way stolen from foreign settlers and that “the Zionist State” ought to be destroyed. Formal recognition of the existence of Israel under US pressure, from some factions, everybody knows were and are just opportunistic lies without giving up the goal of the destruction of Israel. It was simply the pursuing of the destruction of Israel adapting to current circumstances. It is universally claimed that the “Palestinian State” would only be a first step for “reconquering” [from the British neo-Empire?!] Palestine. It seems that nearly everybody avoids underlining that there is as an undeclared war between the United States, supporting an Israel acts according the US interests, and all the ex-British Arabia de facto acting for the destructions of Israel, so of the US influence in the area. Not casually, in the UK, the anti-Israeli feelings are very strong. The same media invention of the “Palestinian question” and its subliminal imposition to the world public opinion has not been a spontaneous process. There are interest centres governing people minds. Idea and slogans are never neutral, neither their production is neutral. Naturally, this research is centred on its object, not on these broader questions, which are irrelevant for a short-term empirical evaluation.

Anyway, whatever philosophies of war might suggest, the used terminologies inevitably reflect current stereotypes. Violence, at military level, from the “Palestinian” side, is currently called “terrorism” (or more sympathetically from sympathetic sources), what generally is, even if it would be more precise “indiscriminate terrorism” when it is such, while the administrative executions, from the Israeli side, are defined “targeted killing” (what they actually are, with procedures for deciding them). Other Israeli military or para-police operations are called “violence” when there are killings, whatever the circumstances of these killings. They are just media expressions more or less universally used, also at academic level. Language is never neutral, although simplifications be inevitable.

(Jaeger, April 2008) shows that generic Israeli violence against “Palestinians” tends to radicalise the “Palestinian” public opinion. However the effect is temporary. At the same time, this tendency combines with forms of increased disaffection. So, there is a mix of temporary increased radicalism and of increased disaffection from “politics” or from any kind of fight, militancy, or anxiety. In effect, other suggestions of the research show the primitive and local nature of the emotional response to the Israeli generic strikes, at least in the short-term. It is more complex to define the emotional changes derived from the exposition to a permanent sequence of events with, in addition, media amplification. They “may cumulate to create a stock of resentment”.

The short-term effects of the Israeli generic strikes seem limited to about three months. After them, they vanish. Since “Palestinian” faction know that, in same way, and they use terrorism against Israel for power struggles with the other factions, what explains their need to maintain a certain level of attacks-counterattacks. In fact, there is the aspect of the Israeli generic strikes, and relative victims, but they are determined from the “Palestinian” terrorism and for the “mass” opposition to the Israeli raids. The same “Palestinian” terrorism has not only an intimidation function against Israel but it is a power struggle among “Palestinian” factions. In same way, “Palestinians” need to produce generics victims since the Israeli strikes. It is the perverse “logic” of the conflict. In any “Palestinian” terrorist action, there is the aspect of the radicalization in the favour of the fighting faction and of the following radicalisation produced from the Israeli reaction, apart from the Israeli targeted killings, which have different effects. There is the power struggle among “Palestinian” faction and there are the goals of an increasing hate against Israel and Jews.

For (Jaeger, April 2008), evidence shows that, in the power struggle between Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), there is a positive correlation between their attacks against Israel and the relative people support for the one or the other one. On the contrary, “we find no evidence that Israeli fatalities claimed by Hamas affect the relative support for Fatah, nor vice versa.”

Relatively to the effects of targeted killings, they reduce subsequent Israeli fatalities in the short-term. On the long-term there is no effect. From the point of view of the “Palestinians” emotions, “Palestinian” population is sensible to other fatalities but not to targeted killings. “Palestinians” are not radicalised from targeted killings.

In specific cases, opinion polls have detected significant decrease of support for peace and negotiations, among individuals with a high propensity to be radical, when generic “Palestinians” fatalities occurred, while those with a low propensity for radicalism have been essentially unaffected. So, despite some basic attitudes, effects are differentiated and may change according circumstances.

The focus of the research has been on the short-term, without questioning the long-term effects of that protracted ethnic low-intensity conflict.

There is, evidently, a perverse logic in protracted and irresolvable conflicts, with the different sides adapting, in same way, to a never-ending and never-solvable war. The conflict is not solvable inside the frame built for an infinite conflict. Ethnic conflicts are not solvable when, as in that case, a side (Israel) can resist but the apparently weaker side (“Palestinians”) has an overwhelming international support. The conflict is between Israel and the Arab world, not necessarily the “Islamic” word, which is a propagandistic construction. The Arab word is the Ex-British Arabia. The British world does not accept Israel. A solution should pass through the break of the logic of the infinite war and to deal with its basic factor: Israeli is too small and it is not accepted from the ex-British Arabia, which is sure to achieve its destruction. Consequently, the ex-British Arabia side is against whatever form of integration of “Palestinians” and against all pacification of the area. If Israel wants survive, it must clash with the British interests in the area and to overcome the US tutoring.

Jaeger, D. A., E. F. Klor, S. H. Miaari, M. D. Paserman, The Struggle for Palestinian Hearts and Minds: Violence and Public Opinion in the Second Intifada, Working Paper 13956, NBER, Cambridge, MA, USA, April 2008,