The World Through Arab Eyes: Arab Public Opinion and the Reshaping of the Middle East

Since the mid-1990s, Telhami has monitored Arab public opinion in six countries that represent the region’s spectrum of political and economic types: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. His findings sometimes reflect significant differences in the opinions in these countries but more often demonstrate basic commonalities. At a time when some pundits see crises in Syria and elsewhere leading to the marginalization of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the region’s politics, Telhami forcefully pulls readers back to it, labeling it a “prism of pain” through which Arab publics view the region -- even if their leaders do not. Arabs overwhelmingly view Israel and the United States as the greatest threats they face. This produces inconsistent preferences: manifested, for example, in their pushing for the establishment of democratic institutions in their own countries while admiring antidemocratic leaders who defy the United States, such as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Telhami argues that no U.S. president will make a dent in Arab anti-Americanism so long as Washington maintains its uncritical support for Israel and continues to deploy significant U.S. military forces in the region.

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