Thank you for your July 30 editorial “Kerry’s enormous effort stirs new hope for Mideast talks.” We share your appreciation of Secretary of State John Kerry’s sheer determination which, along with the willingness of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to take unpopular steps in pursuit of peace, has created an opportunity for which they are all to be applauded.
At the same time, it is important not to overstate the benefits of peace by suggesting that resolving the conflict between Israel and Palestinians would solve larger regional challenges. Some will infer this from your statement that this conflict is “the core issue that jihadists use to whip up anti-American hatred across the Muslim world.”
Jihadist groups have used this conflict as a convenient issue to exploit while obfuscating their own agendas, which are about a rejection of modernity, Western culture, and a multiplicity of other factors having little or nothing to do with the Israel-Palestinian issue.
In fact, the history of anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world has other traceable origins. Osama bin Laden’s campaign against us was most often stated in the context of the US role in Saudi Arabia during and after the 1991 Gulf War. Iranian anti-Americanism finds its origins in the 1979 revolution against a US-supported authoritarian shah. Even now we see how President Assad’s murderous regime in Syria is whipping up anti-Israel rhetoric solely in service to his desperate efforts to redirect efforts of Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah fighters to wage war against his own Arab citizens and Palestinian refugees.
We pray that this peace process will conclude with a lasting agreement. That such a success will not solve all the problems of this troubled region doesn’t make this effort any less laudable.