London- Media experts agree that opinion polls in the Arab world have become harmful. Despite its importance as it reflects what people think and aspire to, this does not negate the bias character, especially when it comes to political issues.
Headlines on Arab websites this week featured contradictory opinion polls on “Arab citizens’ views on peace with Israel”.
Media sites affiliated with the Gulf states have claimed that the majority of Arabs support peace with Israel, based on some opinion polls.
Media belonging to the Gulf countries reported the results of a recent poll conducted by the American Zogby Foundation, which said that most Arab citizens support peace with Israel, given their role in promoting stability.
The survey included a sample of 3,600 people from five Arab countries. They are the Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Palestine, as well as more than a thousand Israelis.
The Foundation, which is a private company that deals with studies, market research and opinion polls with high credibility, asked who participated in the survey on peace with Israel, and is it desirable?
A large majority (more than eight out of 10) of Israelis and Arabs surveyed believe that the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is important for establishing peace, while the majority in all Arab countries hope for peace in the next five years (between 53 % and 57% in Jordan and Palestine. and 76% in the Emirates respectively).
Soon, alerted media entered the other side to disprove the poll, to confirm that it was “misleading” not in terms of results but because its results had been published prior to the peace agreement between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. The survey was conducted between June 24 and July 5.
Observers say this does not prove that the poll is misleading, but rather may “legitimize the peace agreement on the basis that it reflects the will of the citizens.”
On Twitter, IDF spokesman Avichai Adraei said: “There is no voice above reason. An opinion poll revealed that most Arab citizens support peace with Israel for their role in promoting stability. The survey was conducted in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The “Mesbar” website, which calls itself “an Arab platform for examining the truth and uncovering lies,” wrote that it had verified the report and circulated publications and found that they were “misleading and selective”.
“Mesbar” continued in his report, which he said “does not verify the validity of the results included in the Zogby Foundation survey, but rather deals with disinformation and selectivity in some media coverage of the survey results.” The “Zogby Foundation” published an opinion poll in July this year, entitled “The debate on annexation: attitudes in Israel and in the main Arab countries.
Two weeks ago, the “Arab Center for Political Research and Studies” based in the Qatari capital, Doha, announced the results of the “Arab Index”, which included 28,000 participants from 13 Arab countries, and showed that the 88% of Arabs in the countries surveyed refuse to recognize Israel. 100 percent of Egyptians, 91 percent of Palestinians, 93 percent of Jordanians and 65 percent of Saudis, and that Arab public opinion is compatible and almost society that “Israel” policies threaten security and the stability of the Arab region. As usual, well-known media celebrated and published the survey.
This opinion poll revealed that the agency organizing the survey has certain orientations or is subject to certain institutions with ties to the parties in its interest to turn the survey results in its favor, and this raises many questions about the funding issue. of the parties involved in opinion polls. The principle is that opinion polls are carried out by the parties. They are impartial and are financed by the sale of these polls. It cannot be overlooked that the funding of some surveys can be direct, and therefore survey results can only be reliable if they are affiliated with independent administrative and financial bodies.
Between this and that, Israeli opinion polls hold an important place for them and are issued by Israeli institutions, although it is difficult to rely on conditions relating to objectivity.
Conflicting opinion polls confirm the existence of two currents in Arab public opinion, the first of which is willing to establish relations with Israel, although it is difficult to determine the extent of this current and the extent of its strength, given the number of those involved is not known precisely.
And the image of social media, following the announcement of the normalization agreement between the UAE and Israel, could reflect the state of public opinion in the Arab world, although it was also inaccurate. Immediately after the announcement of the agreement by US President Donald Trump, conflicting hashtags appeared, some celebrating the agreement and others betraying its participants, Twitter.
It is not possible to ascertain precisely the extent of the refusal, or popular support, of peace with Israel, neither due to the lack of interest on the part of the Arab authorities in this regard, nor due to the lack of opinion polls or serious studies, as well as for the prejudice of some towards a certain point of view.
The question of opinion polls is one of the more complex issues, and it is largely a part of the newspaper media that arbitrarily determines people’s sense of broader perspectives. You may forget it
Those who pay the people who take the surveys generally influence the dominance of ideas and attitudes.
And the electoral institutions defend themselves by saying that “it must be recognized that opinion polls reflect the trends of citizens at a given moment”. To understand what the survey numbers say, you need to know the mechanisms and methods of implementation, since there are many variables, since it is sufficient to change the formula of the question, so that the nature of the results can change.
Surveys regularly invite those who answer them to choose from the options they have already prepared for. The results, as experienced players in the survey game admit, depend on the precise wording of the questions and the variation in the choice of the many answers.
Former executive director of the Gallup Institute for Opinion Polls, David Moore, wrote a few years ago in his book “Senior Surveyors”, that “slight differences in the wording of the question or in the placement of questions in the interview can have important consequences.” noting that the survey results are strongly influenced by the survey itself. On the other hand, “Whatever their quality, the number of people whose opinions are examined influence perceptions, attitudes and decisions at all levels of society.”
Media critic Herbert Schiller said more than three decades ago as a survey assessment: “It’s a mechanism to limit selection.” In his book “Managers of Mind” published by the National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature in Kuwait in 1986 in the “World of Knowledge” series entitled “Manipulators of the Mind”, Schiller said: “Those in decision-making positions in the government and private businesses are the main proponents of people who survey, and it is the vital needs of these groups that decide – intentionally or unintentionally – the dimensions in which surveys are formulated.