A new public opinion poll in France appears to confirm Abba Eban’s oft-quoted observation that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
The survey, conducted for the Israel Project, a Washington-based nonprofit designed to promote Israel, found that French support for Palestinians has plummeted since Israel withdrew from Gaza and the Palestinians then elected the Hamas terrorist group to represent them.
"Those who supported Palestinians have not become fans of Israel, but they think their government should not engage in this conflict," said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of the Israel Project.
In 2002, 35 percent said they thought the French government should side with the Palestinians, 4 percent said it should take Israel’s side and 48 percent said it should take the side of neither.
Today, however, 81 percent said the government should support neither side. Support for the Palestinians dropped to 8 percent while support for Israel remained about the same at 3 percent. "That is a monumental drop" in Palestinian support, Mizrahi observed.
The group’s pollster, Stanley Greenberg, told The Jerusalem Post that the shift in public opinion was so striking that he "redid" some of the polls to confirm his findings, which he described as "incredible."
Much of the "old sense of hostility" towards Israel has dissipated, he told the newspaper.
Mizrahi said the shift in attitude came with Israel’s withdrawal last summer from the Gaza Strip and with the subsequent decision of the Palestinians to elect the Hamas terrorist organization as their political leader.
"The Palestinians had been the darlings of the French community, but the opinion elites in France felt positive about the withdrawal from Gaza and they were not happy to see Hamas elected," she said.