Citizen Action Monitor

Dimitri Lascaris discusses implications of new survey findings of growing Canadian support for Palestinians

Turns out most Canadians believe criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic, contrary to politicians’ allegations that BDS supporters are anti-Semitic.

No 1897 Posted by fw, February 21, 2017

“A new report has just been released on changing attitudes of Canadians, towards Israel-Palestine…. It reflects a clear rising sympathy for Palestinians, and declining sympathy for the State of Israel. They also expose a growing and sharp divide between those who identify as pro-Palestinian, as opposed to Pro-Israeli views. It is also, apparently, the published survey that examines whether Canadians consider criticism of the Israeli government to be anti-Semitic…. There’s a real disconnect here. And I think that disconnect is going to grow over time, and as the public in Canada comes to understand better and better, what is actually being done. And it raises real sort of troubling questions about, you know, democratic legitimacy, and whether we really have a government in our country, that is responsive to the needs and desires of the population — even its own party members, and supporters.”The Real News Network

Dimitri Lascaris concludes Part 1 of TRNN’s interview with this critical observation: the Israel lobby in Canada “has a degree of influence that is not proportionate to the level of support that the Israeli government enjoys amongst the Canadian population.

Below is a repost of Part 1 of The Real News Network’s interview of Dimitri Lascaris’ and Earl Washburn’s discussion of a national survey that shows an increasing number of Canadians recognizing Israeli violations of the human rights of Palestinians. Moreover, the Canadian state is clearly complicit in these violations.

The repost features an embedded 18:11-minute video of the interview, a corrected copy of the transcript, and added subheadings. Alternatively, watch the video and access the full transcript by clicking on the following linked title.

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Survey Shows Support Growing For Palestinians Among Canadians (1/2) by The Real News Network, February 20, 2017

Dimitri Lascaris and Earl Washburn discuss a national survey that shows an increasing number of Canadians recognizing that Israel is violating the human rights of the Palestinian people and that the Canadian state is complicit.

TRANSCRIPT

Kim Brown — Welcome to The Real News Network, in Baltimore. I’m Kim Brown.

New survey of Canadians reveals rising sympathy for Palestinians, declining sympathy for Israel

A new report has just been released on changing attitudes of Canadians, towards Israel-Palestine. The report, which is entitled, Canadians’ Views of the Israeli Government vs. Canadian Government Policy towards Israel and Palestine, echoes the results of previous Canadian surveys over the past five years. It reflects a clear rising sympathy for Palestinians, and declining sympathy for the State of Israel.

The survey also questions whether Canadians consider criticism of the Israeli government to be anti-Semitic

They also expose a growing and sharp divide between those who identify as pro-Palestinian, as opposed to Pro-Israeli views. It is also, apparently, the published survey that examines whether Canadians consider criticism of the Israeli government to be anti-Semitic.

And joining us today to discuss the report, and its implications, is Earl A. Washburn. Earl is a senior analyst at Ekos Research Associates, and played a crucial role in guiding and designing and analyzing the survey behind the report.

And we’re also joined today by Dimitri Lascaris. Dimitri is a lawyer, journalist and activist. He’s also a Board member here at The Real News.

So, Dimitri, let’s start off with you, and why was the survey conducted, and what did you discover?

In addition to Lascaris, there were three other sponsors of the survey

Dimitri Lascaris — Well, first of all, I’m a part of a small coalition that came together to sponsor this survey, to ask Ekos to perform this survey. The other members of the coalition are journalists, and social activists, by the name of Murray Dobbin, an organization called Independent Jewish Voices Canada, and another organization called, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.

The survey was necessary to offset biased media coverage and pro-Israel Canadian government support for Israel, and. as well, provide valid, reliable empirical evidence of growing sympathy for Palestinians

All of us have been active in trying to educate the Canadian public about violations of Palestinian human rights, because frankly, the mainstream media did not do a particularly good job of keeping the public informed on that issue. And we were, you know, quite cognizant of the fact, and have been for quite some time, that the government of Canada has historically had a position of unqualified support for the government of Israel.

And in our work, in the course of our work in trying to educate the public, about the situation in the Occupied Territories, you know, we came to believe that there was a very significant degree, and growing degree, of sympathy amongst Canadians, that was not consistent with the unqualified support for the government of Israel that the Canadian government has been showing over the last several decades.

And we wanted to test that, and see whether, in fact, you know, if a scientifically, validly robust survey would bear out, that in fact there is a growing level of sympathy for the Palestinian people, a growing recognition that the government of Israel is consistently violating their rights. So, that’s what ultimately brought us together to commission this survey.

Brown — So, Dimitri what were the questions and the subject matters that were put into this survey, and put to those people who were questioned?

The first question asked survey respondents to indicate whether their opinion of the Israeli government was positive or negative

Lascaris — Well, the first one is, we asked people whether they had a positive or negative view of the Israeli government? And I just want to preface this by saying, for those who aren’t from Canada, or know Canada’s political systems; there are basically five parties in our parliament. You know, there’s the Conservative Party, which is a right-wing party; the Liberal Party, which has currently got a majority government, and they are center to just center-right. Then you have the NDP, traditionally a social democratic party; the Green Party, the party of which I am a member, and the Bloc Quebecois, which is confined to Quebec and is a Separatist Party.

Other questions probed which political party respondents supported and how they viewed the Israeli government

So, with that as background, we asked people, you know, which party they support, and how they viewed the government of Israel? And the numbers were quite striking, when you compare it to government policy in Canada. Of those who expressed an opinion, 46% of Canadians had a negative view of the Israeli government, and only 28% had a positive view.

Only 5 to 22% of all parties but the Conservative’s said they had a positive view of the Israeli Government

And when you broke that down by party support, it was really striking. The Conservative supporters were way out in the fringe, 58% of them said they had a positive view, but 55 to 78% of the supporters of the other parties said that they had a negative view. And only 5 to 22% of the supporters of the other parties said they had a positive view of the government of Israel.

Interestingly, the younger and also the better educated the respondent, the more negative the opinion of Israel

Interestingly, the negativity increased the younger the respondent. And also the higher the education level of the respondent, the more they tended to view the government of Israel negatively.

61% of respondents believed the Canadian government is pro-Israel; only 16% saw the government as pro-Palestinian

So, we also asked respondents whether or not they thought the government of Canada was pro-Israel, or pro-Palestinian? And far more Canadians believed, according to the survey, that the Canadian government is pro-Israel, 61% than is pro-Palestinian, only 16% believe that. And again, that number rises considerably amongst supporters for the center, center-right, and left leaning parties. The Conservatives are kind of out on the margins on that issue.

On media bias, Liberal, NDP, Bloc and Green respondents tended to view the media as pro-Israel

On the question, we asked people about media bias. Did they think the Canadian media is biased? And 45% didn’t think that they were biased one way or the other. More of the Liberal, NDP, Bloc and Green respondents tended to view the media as pro-Israel, ranging from 36 to 43%. Only 8 to 11% of those groups thought it was pro-Palestinian.

91% of respondents accepted the view that criticism of the Israeli government is not necessarily anti-Semitic

And then finally, and I think this may be the most striking result of the survey, we asked people whether criticism of the Israeli government was anti-Semitic? And overall 91% of respondents accepted the view that criticism of the Israeli government is not necessarily anti-Semitic. For a couple of the parties, supporters of the NDP, and the Bloc Quebecois, I believe, 100% said it was not necessarily anti-Semitic. Even in the Conservative Party, the supporters of the Conservative Party, 80% of those respondents said it was not necessarily anti-Semitic.

The fact that most Canadians believe criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic raises concerns about how misinformed MPs and MPPs are who allege that BDS supporters are anti-Semitic

And there are a whole bunch of reasons why, you know, this has very significant implications for government policy. One of them is that the Federal Parliament, specifically; the Conservative and the governing Liberal Party, within the last year, adopted a motion condemning quite stridently, the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions. And although that motion, that resolution, didn’t specifically say that supporters of the BDS movement are anti-Semitic, the debates in Parliament clearly contained allegations to that effect.

And also in Canada’s most populace province, Ontario, the Legislature, the Provincial Legislature, a little later, adopted a similar resolution, and again it doesn’t specifically say that the support for BDS is anti-Semitic. But in the debate, there were a lot of assertions to that effect. And even one MPP, a Conservative MPP, in the Ontario Legislature, went so far as to compare the BDS movement to the Klu-Klux-Klan.

This is really remarkable, and shameful really, when one considers what’s being done to the Palestinian peoples. So, how does one reconcile the overwhelming public opinion, that criticism of the Israeli government is not necessarily anti-Semitic with these allegations being made by the political class in the Ontario Legislature and, you know, amongst the Liberals and the Conservatives in the Federal Parliament?

To the effect that people who support the BDS movement, which is a peaceful call for economic sanctions on Israel, for them to say that the supporters of this movement are anti-Semitic, is simply profoundly inconsistent with public opinion.

[RE THE METHODOLOGY OF THE SURVEY INSTRUMENT]

Brown — So, Earl, the report is based on a survey of 1,000 Canadians. So, to what extent can this be said to be a statistically sufficient representation of the Canadian population as a whole?

Earl A. Washburn — Sure. Basically, how we did this survey is, we have a panel, an online panel. Well, it’s an online/phone, hybrid panel that we use to survey the Canadian population. This particular survey was conducted using our online panel. But you know, 80, 90% of Canadians have access to the internet, so we find that being able to survey members of our panel that are online, we think is a very statistically significant population that we’re able to poll.

So, we do have good confidence in this particular survey. We weighted the data by gender, by age, by education, and by region, to make sure that all of the distribution of this sample is as close to as possible, the natural population of Canada based on the 2011 Census. Which is the last census that we have the information on the gender, and age, and the population of the country, based on those parameters and education, as well.

So, based on our statistical methods, we find that the survey results are definitely representative of the Canadian population. Our particular panel, compared to other online panels that are used by other companies in the country, is not an opt-in panel. That means that we can use statistical weighting. We can use statistical reporting on it, using things like margin of error, which is not supposed to be used for other online panels. Because other online panels are what they call, opt-in panels, where you can just sign up on their websites to join their panels. But what we do, is we randomly recruit members of our panel by using — phone people across the country, asking them to join the panel. And that way they’re randomly recruited. We feel that based on that method, doing the surveys with our particular online panel, is statistically significant. And we can use proper statistical measurements on it, such as the margin for error.

Brown — So, Earl, what, if anything, surprised you the most about what you discovered?

Washburn — Well, I can’t really speak too much into the breakdowns, and that kind of thing, but I did find this particular topic to be quite interesting. I think Dimitri mentioned how the partisan breakdown is quite interesting, in my opinion. My background is in political science, so, it was interesting to see the particular divide between the Conservatives, and the non-conservative parties in the country. And the supporters of those parties, and how they broke down on the various questions, I found very fascinating.

Brown — Well, let me ask you this, phrase it a different way. Earl, who was more likely to actually respond to the survey, like, which demographic? Which party member? Which region of Canada?

Washburn — Sure. The way we worked with these particular surveys is, we stratify the sample based on responses to previous surveys that we do for other clients, of course. So, there are certain demographics that are more likely to respond to surveys just based on, you know, historical precedent. Older people tend to do more surveys, things like that. And so, when we sampled for this particular survey, or surveys in general, we make sure that people who are less likely to do surveys, that we would sample more of those people, so they have more of them are able to do the survey if they want to.

And with the end goal of having a distribution that mirrors the Canadian population. So, yeah, this particular survey is generally quite balanced, in terms of age, gender and region, because that was our intention going in. We stratified the sample to make sure that the demographic breakdown of the results matched the Canadian population.

Brown — So, Dimitri, your report found that higher sympathy for Palestinians tends to occur among supporters of the Liberal, NDP, Green and Bloc Quebecois parties. So, people under 35 also expressed higher sympathy for Palestinians. People who were higher educated as well; people from Quebec, visible minorities, and non-religious people.

So, why do you suppose that is? Why do these demographics tend to view the Palestinian, and the Palestinian plight, in more of a sympathetic way?

Lascaris — Well, I think one reason for the higher levels of support amongst younger persons is that, you know, for a long time, there was a certain narrative about the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, that the mainstream media had really very much repeated over and over again, and it had become firmly entrenched in Canadian political thinking.

Pro-Palestinian younger, more highly educated respondents tend to rely more on independent than mainstream media

But, you know, younger voters tend, in my experience, to rely more upon independent media. Online sources of information, which are revealing to them information about the conflict that is not necessarily available to them in, for example, Post Media, the largest newspaper publisher in Canada, which is a very, very stridently pro-Israel editorial perspective. So, they’re getting their information from somewhat different sources, which are giving them better insight into what is going on.

I think that’s also true of, you know, people who are higher educated. They tend to have a better understanding of what is going on, and that’s reflected in the levels of sympathy.

Trudeau’s Liberals pose as progressives, but they’re really centre-right

Ultimately, you know, these parties, and I want to really sort of focus on the Liberal Party, because that’s the current governing party, and it’s the party that likes to promote itself as being progressive. Even though the substantive policies of the party, I think, can fairly be described as center-right.

The Trudeau government has voted against 16 UN resolutions that were critical of Israel

You know, that party came to power most recently in late 2015. Of course, our viewers will know The Real News reviewed this, will know the Prime Minister is Justin Trudeau, who just came to Washington to visit President Trump. In the less than 18 months Prime Minister Trudeau has been in office, the Canadian government has voted against no less than 16 resolutions, at the United Nations, that were critical of Israel. And one of them, for example, it was adopted by the general assembly in late 2015. It simply reaffirmed the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and to have an independent state.

And so, as I say, you know, to vote against 16 of these, and the country was only joined by the United States, Israel and four tiny island states, in opposing the December 2015 self-determination resolution — 177 states voted for that resolution. The UN Security Council, at the end of 2016, adopted a resolution calling Israel’s settlements a flagrant violation of international law, and a serious obstacle to peace, 14 to nothing was the vote in the Security Council. The U.S. government abstained.

It took Israel’s illegal Settlement Regulation Law to force the Liberal government to utter a mild disapproval

For weeks on end, the Trudeau government remained very quiet about this. Said nothing, and finally its hand was forced a few days ago, when the Israeli Knesset adopted something called, “The Settlement Regulation Law”, which purports to legalize the settlements that are almost universally recognized to be a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

And at that point, very quietly, the Trudeau government issued a statement to the effect, that this was not helpful. That was as far as it was prepared to go. And I think only because it had to say something. The Knesset legislation was so Draconian, and so contrary to international law.

Canada is also one of the few countries that have not recognized the State of Palestine

The other thing about Canada, you know, we’re one of the few countries in the world, relatively few, that have not recognized the State of Palestine. Over 75% of the states in this world, representing the vast majority of the human population, recognizes the State of Palestine.

The survey reveals a disconnect between the base of the Liberal Party and its political elites

So, the government, you know, at the base of the Liberal Party, clearly this is what this survey demonstrates is, predominantly has a negative view of the Israeli government. And you have a political elite within the Liberal Party that is not prepared to do anything evidently, to ensure the respect for Palestinian rights by the Israeli government. And will support the Israeli government, almost no matter what it does.

Bottom line, the Trudeau government is not responsive to the wishes of Canadians or its own party members and supporters

There’s a real disconnect here. And I think that disconnect is going to grow over time, and as the public in Canada comes to understand better and better, what is actually being done. And it raises real sort of troubling questions about, you know, democratic legitimacy, and whether we really have a government in our country, that is responsive to the needs and desires of the population — even its own party members, and supporters.

And it says something about the strength of the Israel lobby in this country. It’s very well financed. It’s very well organized. And has a degree of influence that is not proportionate to the level of support that the Israeli government enjoys amongst the Canadian population. I think that’s quite clear.

Brown — Indeed. We’ve been speaking with Dimitri Lascaris, and Earl Washburn. We’re going to take a quick break, and we’re going to come back with part two of our discussion about the findings of a recent survey, asking Canadian their opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It appears from the results of this poll that Canadians’ opinions, or Canadians’ feelings towards this conflict in the Middle East, is not necessarily in step with the party in power, and their policies towards Israel and Palestine.

So, we’re going to come back with part two.

END OF PART 1

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