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Zogby poll: Most Arabs think U.S. biased against Palestinians

Saturday, April 13, 2002

By Ann McFeatters, Post-Gazette National Bureau

WASHINGTON -- A Zogby International poll of Arabs living in 10 countries indicates most think U.S. policy toward the Middle East is biased against Palestinians and that there is mainly scorn for America's war on terrorism.

But the poll also indicated that Arabs have a high regard for U.S. science and technology and that those with access to the Internet and satellite TV like Americans and American culture, including its movies and television programs. The results conflict with a widely reported, controversial poll that the Gallup Organization released Feb. 27, which claimed that 53 percent of Arabs in nine Arab countries hate Americans. The poll was debunked by many critics, who said that its results were meaningless because they were a combination of nine different surveys and that fewer than half of the world's Muslims live in the nine countries included in the Gallup study.

Zogby is run by John Zogby, a well-known Arab-American pollster, who is helped by his brother, James, head of the Arab American Institute. They argue that their findings are representative of what adults in Arab and Muslim countries think about Americans and whether they differentiate between those beliefs and U.S. policy in the Middle East. They used native-speaking poll takers in Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, France and Venezuela.

The face-to-face polling was done between March 4 and April 3, and the same questions -- developed by both Zogbys -- were asked in each country. In each country, 500 to 700 adults were surveyed.

"It's not our people or values or culture Arabs don't like," said James Zogby. "It's U.S. policy. And it's not our movies and satellite TV that hurt America; those are helping us."

The brothers said they found both discouraging and encouraging information for Americans. In Lebanon, for example, they found a "deep alienation from and lack of empathy with the United States," much as the Gallup poll did. In Iran, they found general hostility toward America. "The Iran data was collected after [Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon's military incursions, and they didn't react well to being part of the axis of evil," said John Zogby.

But the Zogbys also found a more positive overall attitude toward Americans in the Arab world than the Gallup poll had revealed.

And unlike the United States, where there are substantial gender differences in opinion on many issues, the Zogbys said they found no gender differences. They did not delineate income differences in their polling.

Arguing that they have "developed a unique expertise polling in several Middle Eastern countries," the Zogbys say they are able to answer the question regarding what is driving unfavorable attitudes about Americans in the Arab world. They are now conducting a poll in seven Arab nations on the values and beliefs of the Arab world.

Arabs have an "overwhelming" regard for U.S. science and technology, and in every country but Iran and Indonesia, the majority of Arabs have a favorable view of American freedom and democracy.

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