Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bin There, Done That

At the National Interest, published by the former Nixon Center, Paul Pillar discusses documents seized in the Abbottabad raid that reveal Osama bin Laden's Palestine preoccupation:
The Palestinian issue has the power it does not because individual terrorist leaders like bin Laden necessarily make it their first personal priority but instead because it has tremendous resonance among the Muslim populations to which they appeal. The reason that supporters and rank-and-file practitioners of anti-U.S. terrorism cite most frequently for their hatred of the United States is U.S. condoning of Israeli occupation of Palestinian-inhabited land and of other Israeli actions that involve the killing or subjugation of Muslims.

There are many good reasons not to let the Israeli-Palestinian issue fester. Its role as a readily exploitable extremist cause is one of them.

Pillar and others believe this is why Israel and the U.S. should do more. It's probably also one of the reasons the Palestinians keep doing less, because they think the support of fellow Muslims (not that all Palestinians are Muslim) will leverage a better settlement with Israel. But they're wrong. With each passing year, and each Israeli offer Palestinians spurn, the Israelis build more settlements, and the parameters of a future Palestine get smaller. Bin Laden was a tactical and political adviser the Palestinians are infinitely better off without, especially if it increases the chances they'll just say yes.

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