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Public Opinion on Israel-Palestine is Changing in the Arab World

Public Opinion on Israel-Palestine is Changing in the Arab World

For as long as I can remember, the fate of Palestinians living under Israeli rule or in refugee camps in nearby Arab countries was a central concern for publics in the Arab world. Arab citizens, moreover, remained resolutely opposed to normalizing diplomatic, trade, and other relations with Israel before the latter withdrew from the West Bank and Gaza and permitted the creation of a viable Palestinian state. Recently, James Zogby, a respected Arab-American pollster, discovered through his own surveys in the Middle East that Arab public opinion has shifted rather dramatically. This is how he describes his new and surprising polling results: A “sea change” in Arab public opinion on the importance of the Palestinian issue. For decades, Israel-Palestine were at the top of the Arab public’s priorities, Now, they ranked “in the bottom tier” of concern in every Arab country he polled. “Significant majorities in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE [United Arab Emirates], moreover, felt it would be desirable for some Arab states to pursue normalization [with Israel] even without peace. Opinion was evenly divided in Lebanon, with four out of ten Palestinians also agreeing.” A majority of respondents in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates favored the UAE’s recent decision to recognize Israel and establish diplomatic relations in return for an Israeli commitment to non-annexation of  the West Bank. The deal between the UAE and Israel has led to a significant drop in public support for annexation among Israel Jews. A dramatic Arab peace overture, in other words, has softened Jewish Israeli public opinion towards the Palestinians. Peace is not about to break...
Surveys: Police Critics are not Anti-Capitalists

Surveys: Police Critics are not Anti-Capitalists

By James Ron and Doug Guthrie After protests swept through Kenosha, Wisconsin, we thought it was worth asking: Do supporters of Black Lives Matter (BLM) seek more than police restructuring? Do they actually want to replace the capitalist system with something else more akin to socialism? This is a meme out there, but the facts belie the meme of the moment. “Black Lives Matter” has become a civil justice Rorschach test today. For some, its hate-signaling leftist, antifa ideology. For others, it’s an aggressive effort to destroy the very principles the United States was founded upon: freedom, democracy and capitalism. Even Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and President Trump’s personal attorney, has gotten into the name calling, describing the protests as a Marxist plot. There is some logic to the question of what’s behind BLM, as many of the fires set during demonstrations in Kenosha and elsewhere have targeted businesses and commercial buildings. In response, some corporations, including Apple, Target and Walmart, temporarily shut down their stores this spring. Is the call to “defund the police” really shorthand for “end capitalism?” To answer this question, we reviewed survey evidence from roughly 13,000 respondents in the United States and around the world. The data suggest that, on average, police critics in this country and elsewhere are in fact not opposed to business. Here and in other countries, the respondents who told us they mistrusted the police the most were also more likely to trust international and local businesses alike. Across the world, support for business goes hand in hand with skepticism towards police. This finding undermines...
Global Reputation of the Belt and Road Initiative, Part One

Global Reputation of the Belt and Road Initiative, Part One

In 2013, the Chinese government established an infrastructure and economic development plan for countries in the Asia Pacific region, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe. In theory, the plan’s ultimate goal, dubbed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is to empower poorer countries to enter the global market via the development of “belt” (overland roads and railways) and “road” (maritime and sea routes) infrastructure. Critics, of course, fear that BRI is a Chinese plan to gain more global power, supplant Western financial institutions, and exert direct and indirect control over these newly constructed and vital assets.    Foreign trade network development is not new for China; almost 2,000 years ago, the Han Dynasty established the famous Silk Road, which connected Central and Southern Asia’s populations and stretched into Europe. For years, China managed trade routes that stretched for thousands of miles. However, interference by the Crusaders and Mongolian tribes resulted in economic isolation for many countries positioned along the Silk Road, and that isolation has persisted across the centuries.  Reception of China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been mixed, with some countries praising the effort and others fretting over its potential long-term implications for the balance of power, global trade, and the debt burden of poorer countries.  How Do Participating Countries Feel About the Belt and Road Initiative? As of 2020, China has signed contracts with 137 countries and 30 international groups. While many of those countries are located in Asia, several African and Eastern European countries have also signed on. The Initiative has even stretched west, covering countries in the Caribbean and South and Central America. Altogether, two-thirds of...