Among the most striking trends in predominantly Muslim nations is the continuing decline in the number saying that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are justifiable in the defense of Islam. In Lebanon, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia, the proportion of Muslims who view suicide bombing and other attacks against civilians as being often or sometimes justified has declined by half or more over the past five years.This is remarkable. The rest of the Muslim world is recognizing that supporting terror is a dead end, but PalArabs overwhelmingly support it - across demographic lines! Young and old, religious and secular, men and women - they have managed to create a culture that is not only at odds with all of civilized society, but also at odds with the rest of the Arab world.
Wide majorities say such attacks are, at most, rarely acceptable. However, this is decidedly not the case in the Palestinian territories. Fully 70% of Palestinians believe that suicide bombings against civilians can be often or sometimes justified, a position starkly at odds with Muslims in other Middle Eastern, Asian, and African nations.
The decreasing acceptance of extremism among Muslims also is reflected in declining support for Osama bin Laden. Since 2003, Muslim confidence in bin Laden to do the right thing in world affairs has fallen; in Jordan, just 20% express a lot or some confidence in bin Laden, down from 56% four years ago. Yet confidence in bin Laden in the Palestinian territories, while lower than it was in 2003, remains relatively high (57%).
Opinion about Hezbollah and Hamas varies among Muslim publics. Views of both groups are favorable among most predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia. And Palestinians have strongly positive opinions of both militant groups. But majorities in Turkey have negative impressions of both Hezbollah and Hamas.
Palestinians See Suicide Bombings as Justified
But support for suicide bombing is widespread among Palestinians: 41% say such attacks are often justified while another 29% say it can sometimes be justified (no comparative data from 2002 are available). Only 6% of all Palestinians say it is never justified, by far the smallest proportion in any Muslim public surveyed.
Acceptance of extreme terrorist tactics in the Palestinian territories is remarkably uniform across major demographic groups, including roughly equal proportions of men (44%) and women (38%), Palestinians under the age of 30 (41%) and those 50 years old or older (47%), as well as among those who are the most committed to Islam (38%) and Palestinians who are less religious (45%).
The reason is that decades of the worst kinds of incitement in Palestinian Arab media glorifying terror have paid off. Palestinian Arabs have managed to create their own unique identity in the Arab world - and that identity is based on support for violence. Now, they are truly a people.
This explicit support for terror would be the ideological basis for a Palestinian Arab state.