From the Hebrew press: How to create a fake poll

If you know what answers you would like to hear, the questions can be phrased accordingly. Like the one below on Judea and Samaria.

Haggai Huberman, | updated: 15:41

Arutz 7

Hagai Huberman, Journalist, historian, military commentator and editor of the weekly “Matsav Haruach” newsletter, writes about a leftist poll that landed on his desk. All of his requests for the details of the poll – evaporated into thin air.

If anyone is interested in looking for an excellent example of a fake poll, he can take a look at the poll that appeared in my email this week, not necessarily on the subject of elections – but not unrelated to it either.

It is a poll commissioned by the radical Left movement, Commanders for Israel's Security, numbering 286 senior former commanders from the IDF, the Shin Bet, the Mossad and Israel Police, all, of course, on the left side of the political map. They have set for themselves the goal of brainwashing the Israeli public to look favorably on renewing the political process, meaning the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state on the ruins of more than a hundred Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Their key argument, like most of the Israeli Left, is their belief in a demographic argument, a PA state being the only way to maintain the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Their battle at the moment focuses on plans by elements among the Israeli right for the application of sovereignty on Judea and Samaria..

What are they doing? As usual, a poll, carried out by Mina Tsemah and Meno Geva. In Israel, polls are ubiquitous. Thus, it is joyfully asserted that "the majority of the Israeli public (60%) opposes the application of Israeli sovereignty in the territories of Judea and Samaria. The data show what everybody already knows - most of the public strongly opposes annexation and supports plans to separate from the Palestinians".

Is that really so? According to them, "from the poll, we see that when you ask people about the application of Israeli sovereignty in the territories of Judea and Samaria, a clear picture emerges, in which 60% of the public is certain that they would oppose it or thinks that they would oppose it, while 24% thinks that they are in favor or are sure that they are in favor (16% are undecided)".

And this is exactly the point: it is not "when you ask people", but what and how you ask. I tried to obtain the complete poll via a friend who is close to those officers. I did not get it. It seems that they are keeping the complete poll to themselves. Maybe because there are some data there that do not match their world view? I am willing to take the risk that I am unnecessarily paranoid, and that the answer to that question is positive.

To me, the real question is missing from the poll: "Do you support the annexation of all the settlements while leaving the great majority of the Palestinians population under the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority as a full autonomy?" I would be glad to receive data on this question. It does not appear in the officers' poll.

When you ask the public a seemingly objective question such as: "If there is a proposal for the application of Israeli sovereignty over the territories, i.e. annexation of all or most of the territories of Israel while granting full civil rights to the Palestinians in them, would you be in favor of the proposal or oppose it?," this is a deceptive and misleading question. Why? Because the question does not include the most important piece of data: separation between Areas A and B and Area C. Indeed, the answers in this case would be different.

This vagueness resulted in the poll's finding that 60.6% of Likud voters oppose annexation as well as 76.5% of Gantz's Hosen Leyisrael voters and even half of Bennett and Shaked's New Right voters (50.1%). This result is really not surprising. I too, for example, am against the annexation of Area A, which is under total Arab autonomy, but I am in favor of the annexation of Area C, where all the Jews and only 4% of the Palestinian Arabs live. So where exactly do I fit in this poll, for annexation or against it?

Also this wording: "annexation of all or most of the territories to Israel while granting full civil rights to the Palestinians" is vague and misleading. What is the meaning of "all or most of the territories"? Area C, which is under full Israeli control, where all of the Jewish communities and all of the IDF bases are located, comprises 60% of the area, constituting the greater part of the territories, where there is a Palestinian minority and clear Jewish majority. Areas A and B together are 40% of the area, where 95 percent of the Palestinians live, and would not receive citizenship even if "most of the territories", meaning Area C were annexed. How is this evident from the poll's question?

Look at the next question in the poll. It's a bit convoluted, apparently intentionally: "In your opinion, if the rightist parties such as the New Right led by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked or Yisrael Beytenu led by Avigdor Liberman, demanded the application of sovereignty over the territories as a condition for their entering the government, would Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accept the condition in order to continue to serve as prime minister or would he reject it even at the cost of being unable to form a government?"

You got it right – this is the assumption: If Netanyahu accepts the demand to apply sovereignty, it would not be because he is the leader of the party that declares this as its position, but only 'in order to continue to serve as prime minister'. If you are a leftist, how could there be any other possibility?

(It is important to note, incidentally, speaking of "occupation", that there are no IDF bases in Areas A and B at all, besides the exception that proves the rule: The outpost in the neighborhood of Abu-Sneineh in Hevron. Because Hevron is a city with a unique situation, and a separate agreement. The IDF also does not operate on a regular basis within the Palestinian Authority, except for arresting terrorists or destroying terror infrastructure, based on previous intelligence).

The Commanders for Israel's Security poll did not relate to the possibility of annexing Area C alone, to which I, for example, would agree, and this is not surprising. Their argument, as their position was explained to me, is that if Israel annexes Area C and applies Israeli law only in the Jewish communities – the Palestinian Authority would collapse. Why? I did not get a satisfactory answer to this innocent question.

My guess is that if it turns out that it is possible to annex only the Jewish communities without granting citizenship to a million and a half Palestinian Arabs, the problem is not that the Palestinian Authority would collapse – it is that their entire leftist ideology would collapse. This is what really frightens them.

Translated by Sally Zahav for the Sovereignty Movement

Published in Hebrew in Matsav Haruach and on the Arutz 7 Hebrew site 21/2/2019