In an effort led by Stanley Greenberg, The Israel Project just completed focus groups and a large survey of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The report (see is worth reading. However, sometimes in public opinion research, you see a fact that really stands out and tells you something about how people are thinking. For me, it is this name: Dalal Mughrabi.

Dalal Mughrabi was the most popular person we tested in the West Bank and Gaza, despite her having died three decades ago. Why is this woman so popular? She directed a 1978 attack that caused the deaths of 37 Israelis and one American, including 13 children.

While we see her as a terrorist, 76 percent of Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza gave her a favorable rating. This is the result of decades of hate propaganda, during which Palestinian leaders glorified her "martyrdom" and held her up as a hero and figure to emulate. It should be no surprise that even schoolchildren revere her.

Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), who planned attacks on Israelis as commander of the armed organization al-Assifa in the 1980s, had similar ratings.

Over and over, Palestinian places and events are named after their "heroes" -- terrorists who deliberately murdered innocent civilians. Dalal Mughrabi and Abu Jihad are still so "honored" today -- at a time when supposedly there are "peace talks" between Israel and the Palestinian leaders.

For 62 years Israel has longed for peace. For the same amount of time, many Palestinians have longed for a state. So why isn't there peace and a two-state solution today? A big part of the reason is because generations of Palestinian children have been raised to look up to terrorists. Even Israeli President Shimon Peres, a real peacemaker, has questioned whether one can negotiate with people who only want to talk about the terms of your funeral.

It is time to replace hate with hope. Palestinian leaders should stop celebrating jihad (both the person and the idea of it) and start creating jobs. That is what the Palestinian people really want and need -- jobs.

The official Hamas charter tells Palestinians to "kill the Jews" and teach their children to hate Jews. But Hamas is not the only problem. Even supposed "moderates" still name roads and events after terrorists.

In our poll, we saw large majorities supporting peace talks and a two-state solution. But by a 2-1 margin Palestinians see a two-stage solution as their goal. Indeed, although 23 percent accept the statement that "Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people," two-thirds opt for the alternative statement that "over time Palestinian must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state."

Despite these figures, there is also some good news. There is support for some conciliatory moves toward Israel: 56 percent in the West Bank and 58 percent in Gaza see importance in ending the practice of naming of streets and squares after "martyrs" who killed civilians, and 51 percent in the West Bank -- though only 12 percent in Gaza -- favor depicting Israel on maps of the region in schoolbooks and official documents.

While we have a very long way to go, we know Palestinian leaders would find public support if they put Israel on the maps of their schoolbooks and stopped naming things after Dalal Mughrabi.

It would be a start.

Published by the Washington Jewish Week.

Contact Laszlo Strategies
Connect on Facebook