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Jewish, Arab Americans Unite in Desire for Arab-Israeli Peace


The Arab American Institute and the organization Americans for Peace Now have released the results of a joint survey that measures support for Arab-Israeli peace. The poll of Arab and Jewish Americans shows that both communities support active U.S. involvement to end the conflict. VOA's Mohamed Elshinnawi has more.

Forty years ago this month, Israel won a stunning military victory in the six-day Arab-Israeli War, but the Jewish state failed to achieve longer term peace and security. That is why activists in the United States established Americans for Peace Now in 1981 to promote the idea of a secure Israel through peace.

Noam Shelef is the organization's strategic communications director. "A military victory by itself can not provide real lasting security for Israel. Military success is a military strength. It needs to be balanced with diplomacy and with peace agreements."

Despite continued conflict in the Middle East, the poll shows that solid majorities of Arab Americans and Jewish Americans favor a two-state solution, with an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

"The bottom line,” says Shelef, “is that we see in this poll that Arab Americans and Jewish Americans agree on almost every issue when it comes to the support for a two-state solution, when it comes to supporting Israel-Syria negotiations, when it comes to perusing an active U.S diplomatic strategy and active U.S diplomatic approach to the Middle East."

Americans for Peace Now praises President Bush for explicitly calling for a two-state solution, but the organization says the administration's actions have not matched its words.

Nidal Ibrahim, Executive Director of the Arab American Institute, says strong majorities of both communities rate the Clinton administration's handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict as effective, while only 20 percent of each rate President Bush's efforts as effective.

"Clinton received high marks for actively engaging both sides and trying to achieve a meaningful solution,” says Ibrahim. “And I think one of the reasons that Bush has not been able to compare favorably to Clinton was because we have never seen the same type of engagement."

Ibrahim says one of the poll's most significant findings is that the Palestinian-Israeli issue could help determine how Arab Americans and Jewish Americans vote in next year's U.S. presidential election.

"We believe, and as the poll indicated, that if there is a presidential candidate [who] can meaningfully address this issue and pledges to address this issue, that candidate can capture the majority of the votes on both communities,” he says.

More than 90 percent of Jewish and Arab Americans agree that achieving peace in the Middle East is crucial to U.S strategic interests. And a majority of both communities endorses the Arab League Peace Initiative as a basis for negotiations.

The initiative offers Israel full diplomatic relations with all Arab countries in exchange for an agreed-on comprehensive peaceful solution.

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