Is the Arab-Israeli Conflict the Axis of Global Conflict?

(Ha'aretz) James Kirchick - The notion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the deus ex machina of global politics - that most of the problems in the Muslim world will be easier to solve, or will solve themselves, once it is fixed - is something that has been drummed into the heads of Westerners for decades by Arab propagandists. Deal with the Palestinian issue, they say, before telling me how to reform my own decrepit and corrupt political system. The obtuseness of these instructions is now on full view in the streets of Cairo, where a sclerotic and oppressive political order is facing an existential challenge, and the protesters who brought it down have done so for reasons having absolutely nothing to do with their Arab brethren in Gaza or the West Bank. To fully appreciate the silliness behind linkage, ask yourself, every time a suicide bomb goes off in Karachi, Baghdad or anywhere else in the Muslim world: "Would this not have happened if the Palestinians had a state?" The Palestinians are a mere talking point for Islamists, who have far greater grievances. Will the Iranians will stop arming Hizbullah and Hamas if Israel just returns to the 1967 borders? The condition of Palestinian statelessness is a symptom of both Iran's hegemonic ambitions and Arab rejection. Deal with these first-order problems and the Palestinians would have a state in short order. To mistake the consequence for the cause, and to invest Palestinian statehood with monumental importance by trumpeting it as the world's most pressing concern, is delusional. The writer is a contributing editor of The New Republic.

2011-02-23 00:00:00

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