Monitor Breakfast: John and James Zogby

Selected quotations from a Monitor Breakfast with John and James Zogby

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John Zobgy is president and CEO of the polling firm Zogby International. James Zogby is founder and president of the Arab American Institute, the policy and political research arm of the Arab American Community. They discussed their new 10-country poll that tracks how adults in Arab and Muslim/non-Arab countries feel about American people and culture.

On the overall view of Americans among those polled:

(John) "By and large there seems to be an affinity in the Arab world and in certain aspects of the non-Arab Muslim world toward American people and things American.

"There were very positive results toward American science and technology, American education, American movies and television, the American people."

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On key negatives toward the US:

(John) "The 10 nations seem to speak with one voice in rating American policy in the Middle East region – and towards Palestinians in particular – in a negative way. And the numbers were pretty overwhelming."

On the reaction by young people to America:

(John) "Among the major findings, in the Arab countries in particular, the youngest group polled –18- to 29-year-olds – and those with greater Internet access, tended to be far more positive about American life and culture than older groups and those without Internet access."

On whether they hate us:

(John) "In essence, they don't hate us, they don't hate what we are about. When the president said they hate our way of life, they hate our democratic values, at least in this first poll in the region, we did not find that was the case."

On the impact of US Middle East policy:

(James) "It is not our values, it is not our democracy, it is not our freedom. To not be terribly disrespectful: It's the policy, stupid. It is the policy they don't like. Since everything else is either a net positive or has a plurality of positives and the only negative is the issue of policy, it appears to be the drag that brings the other numbers down."

On the policy implications of the survey:

(James) "It puts a lie to something we have assumed – all of us who have been studying the region – which is that satellite television drives the negatives...But satellite television viewers are more positively inclined toward American people, toward American technology, toward culture than those who don't (have satellite TV). So it is not satellite television that is creating the negatives. In fact, it seems to be on balance bringing the positives..."

On avenues open for winning over young people:

(James) "Young people are a market waiting for America. And young people are actually more than 50 percent of these societies. Therefore there are some avenues for us to move into. We have to look at it. And satellite TV is not our enemy...If you want to do public diplomacy, look at the venues that are available to you...satellite television, the Internet...move people who are positively inclined to us. I don't think we have taken advantage of those opportunities."

(John) "There is strong potential to move a lot of these young people that we hear so much about as opposed to simply regarding them as a powder keg. They continue to live in poverty and continue to be walking the streets holding worry beads with nothing else to do but building on their frustration and their testosterone level. You have got a problem. We have to be cognizant of that bigger picture."

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