Vox Populi

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THE SPINE SEPTEMBER 19, 2006

Vox Populi

I suppose it's good news. Or is it? The European Union has been scavenging for any evidence that Hamas has lost its mandate. A dispatch from the Deutsche Presse Agentur in Monday's Haaretz may give it what it seeks. In a polling study done by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, based in Ramallah, 1,200 adults were canvassed in the West Bank and Gaza on crucial issues of the bedraggled polity. Well, it turns out that Hamas' favorable ratings have fallen from 47 percent in March down to 38 percent currently. Also, 54 percent said they were dissatisfied by Hamas rule. And 41 percent confided to the pollsters that they would vote for the putative moderates of Fatah, President Mahmoud Abbas's party (and Arafat's too), rather than their jihadist opponents. This put Fatah in front of Hamas by niggle points, but better ahead than behind. So far so good.

But 66 percent of those polled think that Hamas should continue its policy of non-recognition of Israel. This is the crux of the matter. The Palestinian Authority has, more or less, signed on to the proposition not so much of Israeli legitimacy but of the simple fact that Israel does, indeed, exist. So the Palestinian population doesn't much like Hamas. But a vast majority of the same population has identical views to the movement of militant Muslims it dislikes. That the Palestinians are not quite rational in their political thinking has been obvious for years. But this schizophrenia takes the irrationality more than a few steps beyond the accustomed norm. The poor Europeans: They will have to make all this logical.

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