It is a misconception to say that “For 1,400 years, radical elements of the Sunni and Shiite sects have been killing each other over questions of religion and tribal rivalries and resentments” (“Civil war is inevitable, so let’s leave Iraq now,” July 24 Opinion). This is a dishonest rhetorical tactic used by politicians and media to distort the real issues, and cast the blame on Islam and Muslims.

The conflict in the Middle East did not start 1,400 years ago. Rather, it started by the creation of Israel as a Western solution to the plight of the European Jews, which robbed the Palestinian Arabs (Muslims, Christians and Jews) of their rights to their land. The conflict has continued by America’s unconditional support of the rights of Jews over the rights of Palestinians. The U.S. and European support of dictatorships in the Middle East, and the quest for oil, also went against the interest of the local Arabs and added fuel to the fire.

America is unable to spread democracy in the Middle East not because “cultures that conflate religion and government cannot tolerate American-style democracy.” Rather, it’s because America is not leading by example. An American-style democracy is a democracy that respects and protects people’s rights to property, liberty and freedom, and it upholds justice and opposes tyranny. None of that style of “democracy” made its way to the Arabs’ minds and hearts in the past 60 years.

The person who feeds you poison cannot heal you, according to a great Arab proverb. The war between America and the Muslim world emerged and developed from religious ideology supported in the Bible according to Christian and Zionist extremists. So to blame Muslims of waging a religious war is completely dishonest and abhorrent.

If we really care about ending and not managing the conflict in the Middle East, then we need to be honest with ourselves and address the real issues rather than play the blame game.

Maher Musleh


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