Harriet Sherwood cherry picks results of poll to smear Israel with ‘apartheid’ label


H/T Simon Plosker

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report, Oct. 23, contains a dramatic headline, ‘Israeli poll finds majority in favor of ‘apartheid’ policies.

The highlights of the poll reported by Sherwood, and based on a Ha’aretz article by Gideon Levy which cited the results of polling conducted by a group called Dialog, are as follows: (Graph from Ha’aretz)

Critical omission by Sherwood on the findings:

Here’s the opening passage of Sherwood’s story:

“More than two-thirds of Israeli Jews say that 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank should be denied the right to vote if the area was annexed by Israel, in effect endorsing an apartheid state…” [emphasis added]

However, Sherwood failed to acknowledge that only 38 percent of the Jewish public wants Israel to annex the territories with settlements on them in the first place, which is arguably the most important stat, as many of the subsequent questions, such as the one highlighted by Sherwood, pertain to a scenario where such annexation occurs. The fact that a majority of Israelis do not express support for annexation renders the subsequent questions extremely less meaningful, and her conclusion about Israeli support for ‘apartheid’ dishonest.

A few additional observations.

  • The sample size of the Dialog poll is 503 (out of a Jewish population of over 6 million), which is problematic. Further, since there is no link to the full poll it’s not possible to judge the methodology.
  • Levy admits that “the survey conductors said that the term ‘apartheid’ “was not clear enough to some interviewees”, which may explain the following additional quote by Levy about the results: “39 percent believe apartheid is practiced “in a few fields”; 19 percent believe “there’s apartheid in many fields” and 11 percent do not know.”  Further, it’s unclear how ‘apartheid’ – widely understood as a systemic policy of separation based on race – could be characterized as a dynamic localized in certain fields. It seems possible that Israelis were expressing their belief that “discrimination” occurs in certain fields, which is a far different phenomenon than ‘apartheid’.
  • Sherwood writes that “58% believe Israel already practices apartheid against Palestinians”, a number, it seems, based on Levy’s report, cited above.  As I noted in the previous bullet, this is extremely problematic conclusion, based on what may be an unclear understanding of what the word ‘apartheid’ meant in the context it was being used.

Palestinian Context

The most glaring omission by Sherwood is her broader failure, in this or other reports alleging Israeli racism, to provide similar data indicating the political views of Palestinians.  This is part of a larger problem within the Guardian’s coverage of the region, which consistently fails to rigorously examine Palestinian society and mores.

As such, the following Palestinian poll results should at least serve to provide a bit of context to contrast the recent polling on Israelis.

  • 54% support armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel? (Harry Truman Research Institute/PCPSR, March 1-7, 2009
  •  64% support launching rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns and cities such as Sderot and Ashkelon? (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, March 13-15, 2008)
  • 60% of Palestinians eventually hope that one state − Palestine − will replace the Jewish state. Only 23 percent of Palestinians said they believed in Israel’s right to exist as the national homeland of the Jews.  (Based on a poll in 2010)
  • 47.5% of Palestinians still support terrorist attacks inside pre-1967 Israel. (2012 PSR Survey)
  • 73% of Palestinians “believe” the Islamic Hadith that preaches it is Islamic destiny to kill Jews. (2011 poll)

Of course, there is as good of a chance Sherwood would report these disturbing findings about Palestinian racism, support for violence, and intransigence as the chance she would avoid skewing the results of an Israeli poll in a misleading manner which shows Israelis in the worst possible light. 

76 comments on “Harriet Sherwood cherry picks results of poll to smear Israel with ‘apartheid’ label

  1. If someone asked me “Assume you are convicted of a crime that carries the death penalty. Would you choose to die by lethal injection or hanging?” I know what I would say, but that doesn’t mean that I WANT to be executed!

    • Not a bad analogy! Sherwood is suggesting that two-thirds of Israeli Jews endorse an apartheid state? What a load of bollocks – and twisted bollocks as that.

      • That doesn’t make it an accurate reflection of views in Israel. I am reminded of a classic episode of Yes Minister, in which Hacker was considering a policy to bring back national service in the UK and wanted to know the public’s view.
        Sir Humphrey told him that he could get any survey result he wanted.

        If he wanted one supporting National Service, he should first ask questions like: “Are you concerned by levels of youth unemployment?” “Do you think unemployed youth need some discipline and order in their lives?” and so on, then ask: “Are you in favour of National Service?”

        If he wanted a poll against National Servivce, he should first ask questions like: “Do you think unemployed youth should be given guns?” “Should unemployed youth be taught how to kill people?” “Do you think there is too much violence in society?” “Would you rather spend tax money on schools and hospitals or bombs and guns?” and so on, and THEN ask: “Are you in favour of National Service?

          • An Israeli poll did find majority in favor of ‘apartheid’ policies.

            This poll must have been credible since Israeli media published this information and wrote a lot of editorials on this.

            Are you embarrassed?

            • I repeat what I have written below. If asked “IF you are to be executed, would you prefer to die by lethal injection or hanging?” I know what I would respond. That does NOT mean I wish to be executed!

  2. In the Hebrew version of this pie chart, the question about the right to vote is a followup for the question about annexing settlements. The question wasn’t even about annexing the West Bank, just the parts that have settlements in them. But at the same time the question mentions 2.5 million Palestinians but no such number live in areas where settlements are. So the English version is definitely wrong and the Hebrew one is too, the question is who made the mistake- the people who wrote the poll or Haaretz.

  3. Adam is right without knowing the methodology used to conduct the poll it is hard to judge how representative or accurate it is.
    Without being able to read the full results it is hard to judge how accurate the reporting of the poll results are, although if it is in “The Guardian” I have a higher than usual degree of scepticism about it.

    I would like to know who commissioned it, as who the client is can have an effect on the results.

    • Jeff it seems that Dialog are highly respected opinion pollsters. BICOM have even been known to quote them. It is not about ” believing ” polls but about their credibility. Which bits don’t you believe ?

      • The fact that you assume I’m Israeli without me ever saying anything that would suggest it in the slightest way, is, again, I’m afraid, another example of you being you.
        Are you embarrassed for your fellow Israelis, Nat? I’m embarrassed for you.

    • “Feeling embarrassed by polls of Palestinians Nat?”

      I’m afraid those are off the table for Nat. They would show the attitudes of the Arab’s trojan nation of Palestine in an un-P.C. light. This could present a personal crisis for Nat.

      • Jeff’s obsession with defending the interests of the settler trojan nation at the expenses of those of Israel is getting out of control.

        • “Jeff’s obsession with defending the interests of the settler trojan nation at the expenses of those of Israel is getting out of control.”

          ??? I think you lost it, kid.

  4. “The sample size of the Dialog poll is 503 (out of a Jewish population of over 6 million), which is problematic.”

    Sorry, Adam, the sample size is not problematic. Above a population of a few thousand a sample of 500 makes little difference to the confidence interval of a survey finding. 6,000,000 sounds a lot in relation to 500 but the worst case confidence interval at 4.37 is only slightly more than that for a population of 10,000 (4.26). Confidence interval is the figure you need to add or subtract from the actual finding to be 95% sure you have included the ‘real’ figure.

    Thus when 58% of Israeli Jews say that there is apartheid in ‘some’ or ‘most’ ways we can be 95% sure that the ‘real’ answer lies between 53.6 and 62.4. Still seems alot to me.

    • Actually, sencar, I agree with you on this point. I don’t think sample size is the issue.

      As I (and many others) have said above, however, I don’t think the poll accurately reflects the views of most Israelis, as the question basically gave them a bad choice between the end of Israel as a Western, pluralist, Jewish state (and the almost inevitable resulting persecution/expulsion/murder of the Jews living there) or the denial of the democratic rights of those who would wish to see that end come about. In that context, it’s hardly surprising they chose the latter, wouldn’t you say?

      • Thanks, Labenal.

        Of course the way questions are worded and the order in which they are put can affect survey responses. I’ve had a look around to try to find the original survey/survey report without success. Access may be restricted for commercial reasons. However Dialog appears to be a professional polling company that is widely used and trusted. Their pollsters will be well aware of the kinds of bias to which I have referred and of means to avoid them. It’s hard to imagine that they would risk their reputation by doing a dirty job for one client. However you, like Gerald above, may think differently. It is much more difficult to dismiss the survey’s findings of large scale Israeli Jewish predjudice and hostility towards Arabs:

        - one third want to stop Israeli Arabs voting for the Knesset;
        - 42% don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children;
        - 49% want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones;
        - 47 percent want part of Israel’s Arab population to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority and 36 percent support transferring some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA, in exchange for keeping some of the West Bank settlements.

        In most cases predjudice increases amongst religious Jews and the ultra-orthodox.

        One could go on, but this is hardly a healthy state of affairs.

        • sencar. I don’t dispute that some of these results make for unpleasant reading. I wish they were otherwise. I wish Israelis were 100% free of prejudice. BUT:

          1. I am not suggesting Dialog deliberately skewed the poll. But all pollsters ask questions on a wide variety of topics for a wide range of paying clients. I have commissioned opinion polls myself, from very reputable pollsters, and while they will certainly object if the commissioner tries to blatantly skew the survey, they do not in my experience generally take any detailed interest in the wording of the questions or the presentation of the results.

          2. As I have said on numerous occasions now, there is no good answer if you are asked a question with what you have already expressed to be an undesirable pre-condition – in this case, the annexation of the West Bank. It is easy to misrepresent such an outcome.

          3. Israel is a country which has been battling for its very survival since its modern foundation in 1948. It is surrounded by Arab countries all of whom have either directly or indirectly engaged in military activity against her. Her people see the incessant and virulent antisemitism that spews forth unchecked in the media of the PA, Gaza, Egypt, Iran etc… She hears the calls of some of her own citizens effectively calling for the end of Israel’s existence and the persecution of what would become a Jewish minority. Her people have been battered by decades of terrorist attacks. They hear Muslim religious leaders calling for the extermination of the Jews and so on and so on. Is it really surprising in these circumstances that many Israelis feel negatively towards Muslims and Arabs? Frankly I find it astonishing how open, liberal and tolerant Israeli society still is after all of this.

          4. By way of contrast, consider how much anti-Irish/Catholic feeling there was in the UK during the Troubles, the levels of Tamil-bashing that was endemic in Sri Lankan society until they were more or less wiped out, etc. etc. I repeat – it is a source of pride that Israel has kept her soul (more or less) intact despite all of her problems!

          • 5. If a poll was conducted of British, French or German people, I imagine a significant proportion of them would also say they don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs. It’s not right. I don’t like it. But prejudice exists EVERYWHERE.

        • sencar,
          You slipped up there a little bit, buddy on your last point, and the language here is instructive, “transferring” some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA. No one is talking about physically moving a town to another location. It’s about re-drawing a border (remember 242?). The only thing that would be “transferred” is governing authority, from Israel to it’s “kind and peace-loving” Arab neighbor.
          That Israeli Arabs (“Palestinians”) don’t want their towns in their “native Palestine” to be governed by Palestinians is an indictment of not only Arab governance, but their own attitudes toward Palestinians and the Arab states. They want to call themselves Palestinians without the bother of being official Palestinians, so to speak. You see, having had a good taste of freedom, they want to be free. Israeli governance, for any and all of it’s western liberal pitfalls, ensures their liberty. Arab governance doesn’t. It’s as plain as day for the world to see, but you need to open your eyes to the obvious. The Guardian left is in the business of keeping those eyes shut. Dumbing down terms like “apartheid” into any form of discrimination (yet another dumbed down term) or prejudice whatsoever only serves to sensationalize the agenda of bad actors and yellow journalism.
          Does prejudice exist in Israeli society? I’d be surprised if it didn’t, because it exists all over the world. But does the, IMO, even worse Palestinian/Arab prejudicial attitudes toward Israelis and the ubiquitous anti-Semitism of the Arab/Muslim world get the same MSM and Left-wing media treatment? Not at all. And that’s real a problem. It’s selective. To know the full picture, one first needs to see the full picture.

        • sencar if you read my post, instead of looking for a reason to justify a poll that reinforces your own prejudices, you will see that my first concerns are about the methodology used.
          Where was the polling carried out?
          Was it over the phone, or in the street or at home?
          How were respondents selected?
          Over what geographical area was the polling carried out?
          Over what time period did they carry out the polling, i.e. over a week-end, the same day or a month?

          All of the above has an effect on the results

          The questions asked, usually determined between the polling company and the client, as well as the way they are asked will also have an effect on the results.

          But then what do I know, I have only worked in the industry for the last 16 years, including GfK NOP, as well as Ipsos MORI and my current employers.

          • As a “(worker) in the industry”, Gerald, you will know that sampling methods are a professional matter; their is good practice and bad. Obviously we would all like to have more detail about this survey but in its absence one must, in my view, accept that it was done professionally, given the status of the firm involved. In any case the results point so strongly in one direction that it would take more than a little sloppiness in research design to invalidate the results.

            • sencar oh dear.
              “their is good practice and bad”
              It should be THERE is good practice and bad. So let’s all be thankful that you do not write the questions.

              “in its absence one must, in my view, accept that it was done professionally, given the status of the firm involved.”

              Why? What verifiable evidence do you have about the status of the firm involved? What verifiable evidence do you have that the research was carried out professionally?

              I’m still waiting to read who the client was.

              • If you can believe anything on ‘Tikun Olam’ there is a link to an English summary of the poll.

                First of all it was a phone poll, not a reliable method. After they had given their reponses, (AFTER ?) respondents were then asked to classify themselves, definitely not a reliable method.

                And the ‘Aims of the Poll’

                “1) To examine the attitudes of the Jewish population towards Israeli Arab citizens and Palestinians in the occupied territories, given that we are facing, (1) the increased chances of annexation of settlements in the occupied territories, (2) the eventual crumbling of the Palestinian Authority and (3) subsequent full Israeli control from the Mediterranean to the Jordan river.

                2) To create a basis for future polls and to inform the public about the level of racism and support for Apartheid within Israeli society.”

                There is so much evidence in those ‘aims’ of a pre-set agenda coupled with the use of an unreliable method of phone polling and subsequent classification as to cast serious doubt on the poll findings.

                • “First of all it was a phone poll, not a reliable method.”

                  There is a considerable amount of research on this question, and an enormous literature on best practoce. Many polls use mixed face to face and phone interviews; differences are usually slight. ‘How would you vote?’ polls find that phone interviews predict election outcomes just as well as face to face.

                  “After they had given their reponses, (AFTER ?) respondents were then asked to classify themselves, definitely not a reliable method.”

                  If you think about this, Gerald, you will realise that doing things the other way round would be LESS reliable. Asking someone if they attend a place of worship, for example, before asking a political opinion is likely to bring responses that the subject believes to be consistant with their religious practice. Getting the political opinion first avoids this sort of contamination..

                • OK sencar, and how do the stated aims of the poll – “to inform the public about the level of racism and support for Apartheid in Israeli society” fail to contaminate the results?

                  It is absolutely clear what happened here, the commissioning organisation set out to get a result that showed Israelis are racist and support apartheid and worded their questions accordingly.

                  The poll is, as Jeff said two days ago, crap. The fact that the Guardian (and other media) have lapped it up uncritically demonstrates their willingness to believe this shit because it fits their world view. It doesn’t make the poll any more trustworthy.

                • “The poll is, as Jeff said two days ago, crap. The fact that the Guardian (and other media) have lapped it up uncritically demonstrates their willingness to believe this shit because it fits their world view. It doesn’t make the poll any more trustworthy.”

                  Bingo!
                  I said it before, and I’ll say it again. It’s just so very obvious.

                • “OK sencar, and how do the stated aims of the poll – “to inform the public about the level of racism and support for Apartheid in Israeli society” fail to contaminate the results?”

                  Note the terms: “inform the public about the level of racism and support for Apartheid “. There is nothing here that presupposes a high level of racism and support for apartheid. The survey results could have presented a picture of racial tolerance and harmony. Survey respondents know nothing about the aims of the poll. They are selected in a certain way and the questions are phrased and put in a certain way. Any polling organisation worth anything would want a final say in these matters. The results actually present a picture of racial intolerance and disharmony. Instead of shooting the messenger you should perhaps be seeking remedies for this state of affairs.

                • sencar I have thought about it and see no need to change the views in my posts above, which are based on experience and accepted standards within the industry.

                  Could you enlighten me as to what “best practoce” is? I have to admit that is a term I haven’t heard of before.

                • sencar,

                  “Note the terms: “inform the public about the level of racism and support for Apartheid “. There is nothing here that presupposes a high level of racism and support for apartheid. The survey results could have presented a picture of racial tolerance and harmony.”

                  Not likely, because the poll wasn’t looking to measure tolerant attitudes.
                  Is the term “apartheid” even defined? As for “racism” Israel is multi-racial, not bi-racial. The poll is looking at attitudes toward one group and one group only. And that one group is one that has historically the worst record of attitudes as well as violence against Israel’s jewish population.
                  “Survey respondents know nothing about the aims of the poll.”
                  …which proves exactly nothing whatsoever.

                  “They are selected in a certain way and the questions are phrased and put in a certain way.” Exactly. That’s why polls can be manipulative.

                  “The results actually present a picture of racial intolerance and disharmony. ”
                  I saw no results of Arab or Palestinian attitudes toward Israelis or Jews in the poll. The whole thing stinks from beginning to end, and your claims for the polling data are exaggerated to put it mildly..

      • A sample of 1000 reduces the confidence interval to about 3 but a sample of 500 can produce reliable results – see my post above. Selection bias is an issue that that comes up in lesson one for pollsters. Why not assume they have done a professional job?

        • Sencar,
          When it comes to the Groan interpreting data about Israel I must assume the worst. And I do not find a poll of 500 representative. How do they make sure they get a representative cross section of Israel ? How were the phone numbers picked? Too many variables in a highly delicate matter. And someone already noted mistakes in the Hebrew/English translation. This one is DOA.

          In medical trails 1000 is also a minimum to be scientifically viable. So I’ll stick to that, I would go further and say 1000 is not representative.

          • Please read my post about sample size. The reliability of results from different sample sizes can be precisely calculated. There is no such thing as a rule of thumb that dictates 1000+ as a necessary number. Representativeness is a slightly different matter; most political samples are stratified to represent different groups in the population rather than being truly random. We don’t have details about how Dialog got their sample but I just assume they did a professional job.

            As for your idea that the Guardian produced some distorted version of the survey, I suggest you Google some alternative sources, including those from Israeli media.

            • Sencar,
              As far as I am concerned you are the groan. You have zero credibility when it comes to all things Israel. You understand nothing.

            • As for your idea that the Guardian produced some distorted version of the survey, I suggest you Google some alternative sources, including those from Israeli media.
              No need to google sencar
              See this really alternative media the anti-Zionist Daily Beast blog.

              The author of the article is Noam Shelef the deputy communication director of NIF – the initiator of the survey – writes among others:

              …the manner in which his column presented the information—under the headline “Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel”—seems to amount to a misrepresentation of the data.
              ….
              So claiming the poll demonstrates support for “apartheid” is spin at its worst. It’s a bit like talking to a terminal cancer patient who stops treatment to begin hospice care and then announcing that he or she wants to die. A more likely interpretation would be that the cancer patient wants to live, but would be willing to accept death if that were the only option.

              Maybe Shelef learnt the lesson that if you lie with dogs you will get fleas so Sencar can you can wake up from your wet dreams and can return to mourning three of your Hamas comrades who got delivered to their well deserved 72 virgins yesterday

  5. Nat, all minorities who live under the Arabs are persecuted?
    (Kurds, Coptics, Berbers, Black Christians of Sudan, Western Saharan’s, 500 Jews who live in Yemen.
    Nat, are you embarrased?

  6. Nat, you obviously need to go on Palmediawatch to see the truth about the racist Arabs.
    http://www.palwatch.org
    Just a few of the stories on there now.

    Terrorists who killed 6 labeled “heroes” by PA TV in annual broadcast
    Terrorists from Arab Liberation Front killed three civilians at Kfar Yuval in 1975, and two adults and a child at Kibbutz Misgav Am in 1980. (Oct. 22, 2012)

    Suicide terrorist who killed 21 receives “highest honor” from Palestinian Lawyer’s Union.
    Suicide terrorist Jaradat was a lawyer before she carried out her attack. This week, Palestinian Lawyer’s Union presented her family with an honorary plaque. (Oct. 18, 2012)

    What is Abbas’ true ideology?
    Does Abbas consider all of Israel occupied “Palestine”? (Oct. 18, 2012)

    PA Mufti calls for the killing of Jews quoting Islamic Hadith

    Abbas admits sending terrorists to kill Israelis

  7. Nat, quotes the Independent.
    You mean the Independent paper that wrote all those Jenin blood libel lies of 2002.

  8. I’m looking forward to read in the Volkische Guardian and the Independent Beobachter about the subject of racism in the UK and in Europe. Maybe they should make a poll asking these two questions:
    Were you ready to live in a Roma neighborhood?
    Are you against the deportation of the Roma?
    I bet that both questions would get a resounding NO answer.
    Taking into account that there is no war between the Roma people and the countries where they are citizens the poll taken in Israel demonstrates that the Israelis are much less interested in any apartheid than the Europeans. But why writing about our own problem when we can distract our loyal readers with some Jew-bashing?

  9. She is a stinking English neo-Nazi deep at heart as a humanist Leftist, nothing less or more than that. And her pathetic publicly/state-financed and kept so-called “newspaper”, too.

    • “And her pathetic publicly/state-financed and kept so-called “newspaper”, too.”
      I believe that the Groin is privately owned. But I take the rest of your point.

      • Jeff the Guardian is privately owned but they are the main supplier of the government publishing the ads for government jobs and the BBC (financed by the taxpayer) buy many copies of it every day.

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