The Intifada combined with the Hamas victory in the elections has come close to ending Europe's love affair with Palestinian Arabs. Add to the mix the clear support among Palestinian Arabs for Al Qaeda, for the bombing attacks in London and Madrid, for Saddam Hussein and for Iran, and the Europeans are slowly realizing that they are backing people who want them dead.
New public opinion surveys conducted among "opinion elites" in Europe show that support for the Palestinians has fallen precipitously, according to a leading international pollster, Stan Greenberg, who has been briefing Israeli leaders on his findings in the past few days. There has not necessarily been "a rush to Israel" but there has been a "crash" in backing for the Palestinians, he noted.
Greenberg told The Jerusalem Post that the shifts in attitudes reflected in the surveys were so dramatic that he "redid" some of the polls to ensure there had been no error.
He singled out France as the country where attitudes had changed most dramatically. Three years ago, 60 percent of French respondents said they took a side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and of that 60%, four out of five backed the Palestinians. Today, by contrast, 60% of French respondents did not take a side in the conflict, and support for the Palestinians had dropped by half among those who did express a preference.
Greenberg said the figures were still being finalized, and so did not go into further details. But shifts such as these, he said, represented "an incredible pace of change," with significant consequences.
Interestingly, this is not translating yet into support for Israel. Changing the anti-Israel attitudes will take much longer.