Making the old city young again

List All Facts and Opinions Print
More from Mitchell Bard on Egypt Crisis
MYTH: "Turmoil in Egypt is a result of the failure to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."


Echoing an oft-repeated dogma of the last decade, James Jones, former national security adviser to President Obama, recently said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the core problem of the Middle East and that failing to solve it could lead to more "Egypt-like demonstrations in other countries in the region." 486

Numerous Arab officials, including Amr Moussa, one of the potential candidates to take over for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, have also promoted the view that Israel's conflict with the Palestinians is the key to solving the Middle East's woes. Last year Moussa told France 24 News that "the stability of the region, security of the region, and the future of the region" relies on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 487

Conflating the absence of progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations with the emergence of the Egyptian crisis or any other intra-Arab conflict in the Middle East ignores the internal conflicts that exist within the Arab world and individual countries. In the case of Egypt, the Egyptian people have suffered under the autocratic regime of President Mubarak for more than three decades and were inspired to finally revolt by the uprising in Tunisia, which was also a response to the dictatorial rule of its leader. The Israel and Palestinian issue has nothing to do with the fact that Egyptians have lived under martial law, that they are poor and disenfranchised. Protestors are not demanding an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; they are demanding Mubarak's ouster and democratic reforms.
As scholar Daniel Pipes once noted, Americans tend to think of every dispute in the Middle East in terms of its connection with Israel, even if completely superficial. 488 

However, solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while obviously important in its own right, would have no impact on the current turmoil in Egypt, the takeover of Lebanon by Hezbollah, the growing dissent in Jordan or Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and threats against its neighbors. It is the myopic focus of many on the Palestinian issue that has contributed to the failure to address other problems across the Middle East, such as the lack of freedom in Egypt that is currently the true source of disaffection in that country.

486 Herb Keinon, "Jones: Israeli-Palestinian Strife Still Core of ME ills", Jerusalem Post, (February 8, 2011).
487 Interview with Melissa Bell, "Amr Moussa: Secretary General of the Arab League", France 24, (April 14, 2010).
488 Daniel Pipes, The Long Shadow: Culture and Politics in the Middle East, (NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1990), pp. 273-74.