Deny Al-Qaeda’s Culpability; I Say: Yeah, So What? (I)

I recently published two articles: Gallup Poll: Jews and Christians Way More Likely than Muslims to Justify Killing Civilians and Surveys Show in Every Country Muslims Less Likely to Justify Killing Civilians Than Americans and Israelis.

One anti-Muslim critic posted the following comment in response:

Interesting poll carried out by al-Arabiya…..

More than one-third of Arabs justify the 9/11 attacks, and only 23 percent believe Al Qaeda was behind the aerial suicide bombings.

The survey included 220,000 Arabs and was carried out by the Al-Arabia television channel in Dubai and a British research institute.

Thirty-six percent of the respondents justified the attacks, but only 38 percent took the opposite view, leaving another 16 percent undecided or with no opinion.

(You can google for the link)

I did google for the link and could not find it.  Instead, I found link after link of Islamophobic websites all linking to each other.  Finally, it seems I located what seems to be the original anti-Muslim site to make the claim, the Israel National News:

Dubai Poll: More than Third of Arabs Justify 9/11

More than one-third of Arabs justify the 9/11 attacks, and only 23 percent believe Al Qaeda was behind the aerial suicide bombings.

The survey included 220,000 Arabs and was carried out by the Al-Arabia television channel in Dubai and a British research institute.

Thirty-six percent of the respondents justified the attacks, but only 38 percent took the opposite view, leaving another 16 percent undecided or with no opinion.

Only 23 percent believe that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks, while a large number – 26 percent – think that the terrorist organization did not plan and carry out the hijack-bombings.

Slightly less than half of those participating in the survey – 48 percent – do not think that the assassination of Osama Bin Laden was a criminal act…

Forgive me if I take Israel National News with a grain of salt.  The hyperlinks to “the survey” in that article lead nowhere.

On the other hand, it could also be good old MEMRI:

36% of Arabs in Al-Arabiya TV Survey Justify 9/11

Al-Arabiya TV, in collaboration with a British research institute, conducted an online survey on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Out of the 220,000 Arabs who participated, 23% believed Al-Qaeda was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and 26% did not. 36% said that the attacks were justified and 38% that they were not. 16% considered the assassination of Osama bin Laden a criminal act, 48% did not, and 36% were undecided.

Source: Facebook site of Al-Arabiya TV

No hyperlink is provided to the “Facebook site of Al-Arabiya TV.”  I visited the Facebook site myself and did not find any such information.

Forgive me once again for not taking MEMRI as the Gospel truth.  MEMRI’s founder and president is Yigal Carmon, who served as a Colonel in the Military Intelligence Directorate of Israel.  He also had a direct governmental role in the administration of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.  One can hardly be faulted for doubting MEMRI’s reliability.

Indeed, Middle East expert Dr. Norman Finkelstein calls MEMRI “a main arm of Israeli propaganda,” noting that the organization “use[s] the same sort of propaganda techniques as the Nazis.”  Says Finkelstein further:

They take things out of context in order to do personal and political harm to people they don’t like.

And he concludes by saying:

I think it’s a reliable assumption that anything MEMRI translates from the Middle East is going to be unreliable

One should note, however, that MEMRI says that it was “an online survey.”  What is interesting is that when I finally did find some mention of this poll in an article on the Al Arabiya website (helpfully linked to by an anti-Muslim, pro-Israeli website), the article itself–the same Arabic article on Al-Arabiya that the Islamophobes cite, no less–concludes by questioning the scientific validity of the survey.  The concluding paragraph notes that a “survey expert” contacted by Al Arabiya “does not view the results as [accurately] reflecting the trends in the Arab world,” and that “we must look into the study more and study its [research] methodology” to confirm its validity.

Why would anyone rely on a possibly unscientific internet poll instead of the far more reliable Gallup poll which found that only 7% of the Muslim and Arab world thought the 9/11 attacks were justified?  Robert Spencer of JihadWatch cited an article by Robert Satloff of The Weekly Standard, which pointed out that this “7%” figure includes only those who thought the 9/11 attack was “completely justified” and that the data shows “another 23.1 percent of respondents” who thought the attacks were “in some way justified.”  In other words, a total of 30.1% of the Muslim and Arab world thought the 9/11 attacks were either “completely justified” (7%) or “in some way justified” (23.1%).

Coincidentally enough, the number 30.1% is close to the number found by the Al Arabiya poll.  Therefore, although there still exist unanswered questions about the scientific validity of the study, the number seems to corroborate the data found by Gallup.  However, the Gallup poll reveals what is missing from what we have from Al Arabiya (since we don’t have the actual study): the difference between thinking the 9/11 attacks were “completely justified” and “in some way justified.”

It is well-known that respondents to surveys often have complex answers to questions asked by the polls but are forced to choose between answer choices that do not adequately reflect this complexity.  For example, a question asking “do you support Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, or neither/no answer” would be difficult to answer for many progressive voters who do not like Barack Obama due to his failed campaign promises and the fact that he has not followed progressive policies.  Yet, many of them will still select Barack Obama in this poll, because they like him more than Sarah Palin, thinking of it as a “what team are you on” sort of question (i.e. liberal vs. conservative).

In other words, the complex answer of “I supported Barack Obama in the 2008 election and still do support him over Sarah Palin, yet I am totally disappointed by him” is not one of the options to choose from.  Therefore, such a progressive would choose what he thinks is the best approximation, and this may well be tick-marking Barack Obama’s name.

Similarly, when a Muslim or Arab is asked “Do you think that the 9/11 attacks were justified?” and the answer choices are between completely justified, somewhat justified, and not justified at all, many of them will select “somewhat justified” to convey the thought that one Arab acquaintance of mine told me (which of course I strongly disagree with):

I don’t think the 9/11 attacks were justified in the sense of killing civilians.  That is against Islam and what I believe in.  However, I feel that it is justified in the sense that America had it coming to them for what they did to us and continue to do.

This point is conveyed in the Al-Arabiya article itself, which states that many Arabs “considered the U.S. deserving of this [the 9/11 attack] and that what happened was justified as vengeance against its atrocities and positions against the Arabs” even while at the same time holding the view that the “operation [was] abhorrent enough not to want to attribute it to [themselves].”

These Arabs thought 9/11 was a case of the chickens coming home to roost, and were hopeful that Americans would know how it feels.  This is certainly different than thinking that the 9/11 attacks were completely justified.  Indeed, most Arabs feel deeply uncomfortable with killing civilians.  In the minds of these Arabs and Muslims, tick-marking “somewhat justified” is a way of refusing to give “victim status” or “hands clean status” to the United States.

*  *  *  *  *

In any case, even if we interpret the poll results as saying that 36% of Arabs (or the Muslim world) think that the 9/11 attacks were “somewhat justified” in the sense of the targeting and killing of civilians, in that case so what?  It is still far less than the percentage of Americans, specifically Jewish and Christian Americans, who think that that “it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians.”

The percentage of Christian Americans who think “it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians” is a whopping 58%, with an almost equal percentage of Jewish-Americans thinking the same (54%).  Indeed, Mormon-Americans came in first place, with 64% saying so, which is more than double the percentage of Arabs or Muslims in the Muslim world who thought 9/11 was “somewhat justified” (30.1%).

As for Israeli Jews, 51% of them believe “it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians,” so these Israeli propagandists doth protest too much, methinks.  Indeed, even more worrisome is the fact that according to a survey conducted by Haifa University’s Center for the Study of National Security a majority of Israeli Jews support a policy of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, with a quarter saying they would consider voting for the Kahanist party Kach, known for its vocal support of ethnic cleansing as a resolution to the conflict.

Meanwhile, nearly half of Israeli Jews (46%) support “price tag” terrorism against Palestinians, with the percentage being far higher in traditional, national-religious (Religious Zionists), and ultra-Orthodox Jews (55%, 70%, and 71% respectively).  Price tag terrorism refers to “acts carried out against Palestinians in revenge of government actions harming the settler enterprise.”  These are characterized as “pogroms meted out by fanatical settlers against defenseless Palestinians.”  Price tag terror is conducted by “Israeli soldiers and settlers” who”rampag[e] through” Palestinian villages, meting out “retributive violence.”

The vast majority of Israeli Jews (see here, here, and here) supported Operation Cast Lead in which more than a thousand Palestinian civilians were slaughtered.  Operation Cast Lead was described by the United Nations as an operation “designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.”  This is the level of morality and humanity among Israelis.

One does not expect such polls to be included on MEMRI’s website, no doubt I’m sure due to no other reason than their “limited resources.”  Meanwhile, anti-Muslim and Zionist websites will continue to peddle statistics without any context.  Thirty-point-one percent percent seems unusually high, until one looks at the far higher percentages among Jews and Christians.

Interestingly, one of the main anti-Muslim websites featuring the Al Arabiya poll, the Infidel Blogger’s Alliance, concludes with the genocidal call to “Nuke Mecca already. Nuke e’m.”  This perfectly encapsulates the irony of throwing hissy-fits when Moozlums justify violence while at the same enjoining far more violent acts.

In part II, we’ll take a look at the other two findings of the Al Arabiya poll, namely the issue of Al-Qaeda’s culpability and whether or not it was a crime to kill Osama bin Laden.

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