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

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How Arab Public Opinion Is Reshaping the Middle East

Moreover, the author acknowledges the evidence that Arab public opinion has turned inward, toward domestic issues such as political freedoms and social justice. He also makes due allowances for the significant differences among and within diverse Arab publics. In addition, the book offers numerous specific nuggets of information. It is interesting and important, for instance, to see that on average the Arab citizens of Israel are four times more likely to empathize with Jewish Holocaust victims than are Arabs in the six other countries polled: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates.

Or that those Arabs' popular dislike of the United States derives mostly from a rejection of its policies rather than its values—and, more surprisingly, that this dislike actually has very little effect on Arab consumer preferences or behavior. Another important data point: On a weighted average, two-thirds of those in the six Arab countries polled would accept a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; only one-quarter say the Arabs should keep fighting Israeli forever. Equally surprising nuggets, but also plausible and useful, come from individual countries.

In Saudi Arabia, the "most admired" foreign leader in was Saddam Hussein.

The World through Arab Eyes

In Egypt, two-thirds of those polled wanted Shari'a as the country's legal basis, but most 83 percent preferred applying "the spirit of shari'ah but with adaptation to modern times"; just 17 percent opted to apply it literally, "including the penal code hudud. One problem, however, is that other recent polls show dramatically different results for very similar questions. The latest Pew poll from Egypt, to cite but one case, shows that 88 percent of Muslims there favored the death penalty for apostasy.

The book suffers from scattered methodological omissions as well. The first is simply the failure to spell out several important procedural approaches. Were all these surveys true probability samples, or were some based on quota or even merely "convenience" samples? If the former, what precisely were the methods adopted in each case—multi-stage, stratified, geographic probability?

Random walk? Household interview selection? If these were not all standard probability samples, how truly scientific or reliable are the resulting numbers? Regardless of sampling method, how much host government supervision, permission, or intimidation took place, which might have distorted the findings? Some potentially revealing numbers are also missing from the narrative. For example, one poll cited produced the unlikely result, not replicated in others conducted by this reviewer, that Hugo Chavez was once the "most admired" foreign leader among Arabs.

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But did he get a rating of 60 percent, 20 percent, or some other percentage? It makes a big difference—and in this and other instances, there is no telling from the text. A different deficiency is in the choice of the countries surveyed and in the decision to stick with purely urban samples, which thereby excludes half or more of a country's total population. Thus, the book's samples hardly encompass all the Arab eyes of its title, and they completely omit crucial current developments in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia.

Even in Egypt and other countries that are included, many of the most salient internal political issues are absent. As a result, the book has little to tell us about the great contest between the Islamist and the civil-military segments of society now underway in Egypt or about the prospects for stability or instability in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, or Jordan.

Too often the book treats all six Arab countries polled as a unit, which obscures rather than illuminates the vital differences among them. The averaged responses are weighted by population.


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Since Egypt has many more people than the other five countries combined, the findings are really a distorted reflection of Egyptian public opinion rather than a meaningful average of anything. Another methodological problem is the occasional use of loaded questions on key issues. Some examples: "What aspect of al-Qaeda do you admire the most, if any?


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  • What is your opinion? This makes especially welcome a book that reports on a series of surveys encompassing six countries: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE over ten years, using greatly similar survey instruments. It allows readers to observe trends and also to see the impact of contemporaneous events on Arab attitudes Black and white thinking about ourselves and our Arab neighbors is harder to sustain after one has read it. The results are at once predictable and surprising, and nearly always critical to sane policy development Social science can be imprecise -- one fear is that Western readers disregard Telhami's findings because of that imprecision.

    But belief is not uniform or static.

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

    It is thematic, and Telhami's work helps reveal the interlaced patterns of recent and current Arab thought that give rise to action and inaction, progress and retreat, war and peace. It behooves us to listen. Telhami has given us a laudable guide to understanding the world views of a people about whom Americans in general know too little.

    The recent Arab Spring heralds the beginning of participatory politics in several states of the Middle East and North Africa, and has spurred the unelected monarchs of other countries in the region to launch democratic reforms. What ordinary Arabs think matters more than ever This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what drives events in the Middle East Telhami bases his thoughtful analysis on extensive polling data, and the result is a book that offers solid insights about the complex realities of the Arab world.

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

    Telhami's book is an excellent guide to the forces that are reshaping the Middle East. Telhami weaves mountains of data into a lucid, thoughtful account of shifting attitudes, one that registers the impact of the Internet and Al Jazeera in changing attitudes and the growing influence public attitudes exert over government policy, especially since the Arab Spring. The result is an unusually rich portrait of the Arab worldview. An intriguing, revealing study of Arabs' changing views of themselves and the world as their countries open up - deserves a wide audience.

    He combines the knowledge and perspective of a major scholar with a treasure trove of Arab public opinion. This book will be valuable to anyone hoping to understand this rapidly changing region.

    pracwellttitataw.tk The book is a must read for students, scholars, policy makers, and anyone interested in the Middle East. Shibley Telhami, a world-class political analyst, provides original insights that will be tremendously important in understanding where the region is headed--and why. A must read for anyone interested in the world's most volatile and strategic arena. Eschewing hyperbole and drama, Shibley Telhami systematically dissects Arab views about themselves and their identity, toward Israel and the United States, and regarding democracy, women's rights, and the uprisings.

    Policy makers must read this book, and so too should Americans still puzzled by the politics and attitudes of Arabs. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel "Telhami brilliantly inserts his sophisticated and commanding understanding of the Arab world into discourses that have for too long neglected to accurately portray the preferences of ordinary Arabs.

    This magisterial book should serve as the primary resource guiding academic and policy debates about the attitudes of Arab citizens.

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    This book will be extremely useful for students of the contemporary Middle East as well as policy makers and journalists who deal with the Arab world. An intriguing, revealing study of Arabs' changing views of themselves and the world as their countries open up -- deserves a wide audience. Social science can be imprecise - one fear is that Western readers disregard Telhami's findings because of that imprecision.

    Ambassador to Egypt and Israel, "Amid a burgeoning cottage industry of Arab Spring analysis, [ The World Through Arab Eyes ] stands apart because it doggedly listens to uncomfortable answers to difficult questions An intriguing, revealing study of Arabs'changing views of themselves and the world as their countries open up - deserves a wide audience. Show More Show Less. Any Condition Any Condition. See all No ratings or reviews yet. Be the first to write a review.