The prime minister's statement angered Israelis and comforted Palestinians.
What caused all the ruckus? According to the Associated Press, Prime Minister Tony Blair, in a radio interview, said the solution to Islamic terrorism turns on solving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. One slight problem. Blair never said it. The AP retracted the story, calling it "erroneously reported."
Here's the con: Murderous Arab extremism either results from, or will be solved by, the failure or success of "resolving" the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. Arab scholars, intellectuals, writers and politicians join with many Americans in reciting this nonsensical mantra. But do Palestinians and Arab Muslims honestly and truly want a two-state solution?
After all, Egypt and Jordan signed peace accords with Israel. And Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries do not abut Israel. Israel, of course, continues its territorial disputes with Syria and Lebanon, but much of the Arab world claims no land from Israel. So why do they care? The customary answer is that Muslims feel a keen solidarity with their Palestinian brothers, who reside in a "Holy Land" with "Holy sites," thus making Palestinian statehood a cause for Muslims everywhere.
Indeed, Judea Pearl, the father of murdered reporter Daniel Pearl, wrote about a mid-May World Economic Forum in Jordan. "According to The Economist," wrote Pearl, "speaker Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, barked: 'Palestine!' every time Liz Cheney, an assistant secretary in the U.S. State Department, mentioned the vision of an 'Arab democratic spring.'"
When Pearl attended the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Qatar in mid-April, he wrote, "Strikingly, there was hardly a Muslim speaker who did not tie implementation of [Muslim] reforms to progress toward settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
But do they mean it?
At another East-West conference held during April in Malaysia, Pearl wrote, "[T]he Malaysian prime minister reportedly stated that Israel should cease to be 'an exclusively Jewish racist state,' and . . . the overwhelming majority of participants, representing 34 countries, demanded that Israel be dismantled."
Pearl also wrote about a Muslim Student Union meeting at University of California at Irvine titled "A World Without Israel," and quoted an Egyptian newspaper editor: "[T]he Egyptian people will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli entity."
The former Syrian prime minister, in his 1972 memoirs, candidly wrote, "Since 1948 it is we who demanded the return of the refugees . . . while it is we who made them leave. . . . We brought disaster upon . . . Arab refugees, by inviting them and bringing pressure to bear upon them to leave. . . . We have rendered them dispossessed. . . . We have accustomed them to begging. . . . Then we exploited them in executing crimes of murder, arson, and throwing bombs upon men, women and children -- all this in the service of political purposes. . . . "
In 1960, King Hussein of Jordan admitted: "Since 1948 Arab leaders have approached the Palestine problem in an irresponsible manner. . . . They have used the Palestine people for selfish political purposes. This is ridiculous and, I could say, even criminal."
What about Osama bin Laden? He claims to pursue jihad, at least in part, because of Palestinians. But according to "Globalized Islam" author Olivier Roy, "Abdullah Azzam, [Osama] bin Laden's mentor, gave up supporting the Palestine Liberation Organization long before his death in 1989 because he felt that to fight for a localized political cause was to forsake the real jihad . . . "
It's not like this is a secret.
Many Palestinian terrorists speak openly and bluntly about their intentions. "Moderate" Yasser Arafat aide Faisal Husseini said in 2001, "Our ultimate goal is the liberation of all historical Palestine from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] Sea, even if this means that the conflict will last for another thousand years or for many generations."
The New York Times interviewed several Hamas leaders in Gaza three years ago. Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a surgeon, told the Times the Jews could remain, but living "in an Islamic state with Islamic law. From our ideological point of view, it is not allowed to recognize that Israel controls one square meter of historic Palestine." Abu Shanab, an engineer, said, "There are lots of open areas in the United States that could absorb the Jews." Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a medical doctor (later assassinated by Israel), said, "[W]e in Hamas believe peace talks will do no good. We do not believe we can live with the enemy."
Do these remarks reflect the sentiments of "the Palestinian streets"? Unfortunately, yes. According to the latest polls by the Jerusalem Media & Communication Center, 49.7 percent of Palestinians support "suicide" bombing against Israel, and 45.5 percent believe the Intifada's purpose is to liberate all of historic Palestine.
Every victim needs a victimizer -- someone who you believe wishes to destroy you. Israel provides that role for the Palestinians and the larger Arab world. But the real victimizers are those Muslim leaders, politicians, scholars, intellectuals and teachers who exploit the legitimate concerns of the Palestinians, in order to divert attention from their own corrupt, oppressive, failed states.
So who's really the victimizer?