BEIRUT ”” Since Yasser Arafat’s death, there has been a shift of
international attention away from Iraq to the other, older, most
imperishable of Middle East crises. Tony Blair has urged the reelected
President Bush to revitalize the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which
he called “the single most pressing political challenge in our world
today,” while British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has called it more
important than Iraq itself.

And the view that the two crises are malignantly linked found forceful
corroboration in a surprising quarter. In a report flatly contradicting
Bush administration orthodoxy, the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board said
Washington’s problems in Iraq and elsewhere arose not from Muslims’ hatred
of American freedoms but of its policies and “what they see as one-sided
support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights.”

To Arabs and Muslims, this discovery is less than Archimedean. For them, it
has always been self-evident: The Palestine problem, a legacy of Western
colonialism as virulent today as it ever was, has always been the greatest
single source of anti-Western sentiment in the region. So if terrorism now
ranks as the greatest single contemporary threat to global order, and if
Iraq is its most profitable arena, Palestine must have a great deal to do
with it..


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