Great piece from Amir Taheri in the Jerusalem Post [Nod to Andrew Sullivan]:
In his recent foray into Ramallah, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw identified the Palestine-Israel conflict as the most important issue between the West and the Muslim world. Straw was echoing the conventional wisdom according to which a solution to that problem would transform relations between Islam and the West from what is almost a clash of civilizations to one of cuddly camaraderie.
But what if conventional wisdom got it wrong?
I have just spent the whole fasting month of Ramadan in several Arab countries, where long nights are spent eating, drinking coffee and, of course, discussing politics.
There are no free elections or reliable opinion polls in the Arab world. So no one knows what the silent majority really thinks. The best one can do is rely on anecdotal evidence. On that basis, I came to believe that the Palestine-Israel issue was low down on the list of priorities for the man in the street but something approaching an obsession for the political, business, and intellectual elites.
When it came to ordinary people, almost no one ever mentioned the Palestine issue, even on days when Yasser Arafat’s death dominated the headlines. When I asked them about issues that most preoccupied them, farmers, shopkeepers, taxi drivers and office workers never mentioned Palestine. ….
“Right now there are 22 active conflicts across the globe in which Muslims are involved. Most Muslims have not even heard of most of them because those conflicts do not provide excuses for fomenting hatred against the United States.
Next time you hear someone say the US was in trouble in the Muslim world because of Israel, remember that things may not be that simple.”