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EU "Threat to World Peace" poll

Reader comment on item: Anti-Semitism Evolves

Submitted by Bruce McKenney (United States), Mar 5, 2005 at 14:03

I won't disagree with your premise, but I believe that you've mis-characterized the
conclusion from that 2003 EU poll. You're in good company -- nearly every other commentator
(both media and political) has said the same thing -- but the poll couldn't have supported that
conclusion due to the way it was constructed.

It wasn't easy to find out, but buried somewhere at bbc.com I found a description of the actual
poll: a long list of countries was provided, with a Yes/No check box for each with the question:
"Does this country pose a threat to world peace?". The fact that Israel came out ahead implies
that such a perception is widespread, but since no gradation was permitted it cannot
support the claim that Israel poses a "greater" threat than anyone else. It's not clear what the
designers hoped to prove by constructing it this way, but it was certainly a form which invited,
indeed begged for mis-interpretation of the results.

Of course, the lack of gradation was but one of the significant flaws with this poll. For one thing,
no real choice or tradeoff was required -- a respondent could check all the "Yes" or all the "No"
boxes. (Predict the results of this poll: "Yes or No: Would you like to be given $1million right now, no strings attached?") And then there is the use of two ill-defined yet highly-charged terms "threat" and "world peace", allowing each respondent to answer a radically different question. Finally: notable by its absence from the list was the Palestinian Authority.

That said, I suspect that the poll results do suggest widespread anti-Israeli bias, but the poll's
conclusions per se are quite weak.
Submitting....

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