Thursday, March 30th | 8 Nisan 5783

February 7, 2023 11:25 am

Wire Service Distorts Arab Opinion Poll to Bash Israel

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avatar by Simon Plosker


Israeli model May Tager, holding an Israeli flag, poses with Dubai-resident model Anastasia Bandarenka, holding an Emirati flag, during a photo shoot for FIX’s Princess Collection, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sept. 8, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Christopher Pike.

The State of Israel has long been a welcome distraction from domestic problems for many Arab governments and regimes. After all, an external enemy to fixate on draws the public’s attention away from issues such as economic stagnation, internal dissent, and lack of freedom. And there are plenty of Israel haters outside the Middle East who are more than happy to support this narrative.

In its story “Arab countries ‘headed in wrong direction,’ new poll says,” the UPI wire service reports:

A majority of Arab citizens believe their countries are “headed in the wrong direction,” with most blaming diplomatic relations with Israel, according to a recent poll out of Washington, D.C.

Does the majority of the Arab public believe that diplomatic relations with Israel are the direct cause of their countries heading in the wrong direction?

UPI’s article links directly to the executive summary of the Arab Opinion Index 2022, making this assertion relatively easy to check.

From the language, it is clear that the UPI reporter’s lead is based on the paragraph in the tweet above. Yet it makes no mention of Israel.

It is only when we reach “Section 6: Arab Public Opinion and Perceptions of External Threats” and “Section 7: Arab Public Opinion and Foreign Policies toward Palestine/Israel” that we discover the majority of those questioned consider Israel to be a significant external threat and among many determinations:

An overwhelming majority of respondents (84%) would disapprove of their countries’ recognition of Israel, with only 8% accepting the prospect of formal diplomatic recognition.

So it’s fair to conclude from this poll that unfortunately the majority of citizens of Arab countries hold a negative opinion of Israel and are not in favor of diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

It’s completely wrong, however, to extrapolate that Arabs believe diplomatic relations are the primary cause of their various problems.

On February 1, within hours of the story’s publication, HonestReporting requested a correction. According to its corrections page, “It is UPI’s policy to quickly correct errors.” Days later, we’ve yet to receive a response.

The author is the Editorial Director at HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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