From yesterday's Meet the Press:
GREGORY: Speaking about President Bush, last December he spoke about the frustration along the path of his presidency, but also the state of the Middle East as he saw it. This is what he said.Gregory is barely pressing Abdullah on the absurdity of claiming that Pakistan and Al Qaeda and Iran and other Middle East problems are somehow going to disappear if the "core" issue of a Palestinian Arab state is solved (at the expense of, of course, Israel alone.) Yet Abdullah is stammering and contradicting himself in trying to give that impression, even tacitly admitting that his challenge isn't solving the problem but to convince the American public that there is a connection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Despite these frustrations and disappointments, the Middle East in 2008 is a freer, more hopeful and more promising place than it was in 2001.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Do you agree with that?
ABDULLAH: Yes, but nowhere near what we need as the end game. I mean, it’s all relative at the end of the day. Until you solve the problem, you’re going to get an up and down on how free or stable it is. But we still haven’t solved the core issue.
So you can’t say that -- that the -- the future for the Middle East is any brighter. Unless we solve the core issue of the Israeli- Palestinian, Israeli-Arab challenges, then we will always be an area of instability that costs all of us.
GREGORY: But it’s interesting that you raise that point as that being the core problem. You ask most Americans and certainly the government, the core problem out of the Middle East right now is terrorism, is Al Qaida. And President Obama spoke about that very issue and seemed to be speaking to voices like yours when he was recently in France. Listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Al Qaida is still bent on carrying out terrorist activity. It is -- you know, don’t fool yourselves. Because some people say, “Well, you know, if we changed our policies with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or if we were more respectful toward the Muslim world, suddenly these organizations would stop threatening us.” That’s just not the case. (END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: He seems to be contradicting you a bit.
ABDULLAH: Not at all. What -- what he’s trying to say and -- and what I’m trying to say is the challenge that we have in front of American public is connecting the dots.
Any crisis that you want to talk about, whether it’s Al Qaida, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, all comes back to the sore -- the emotional issue that is Palestine and Jerusalem. Any conflict that you pick in the Middle East today, “all roads lead back to Jerusalem” is probably be a better way of -- of explaining it.
So, until you deal with the Palestinian issue, it is more difficult to deal with Al Qaida, whether it’s Pakistan -- all these other problems that you’re facing.
GREGORY: But -- but isn’t -- doesn’t that suggest, and he seems to be suggesting that that’s not the case, that if you just solve this problem, that somehow Al Qaida goes away, isn’t that fantasy?
ABDULLAH: Well, but what -- what is Al Qaida’s platform is -- is the plight of the Palestinians in Jerusalem under occupation.
GREGORY: That’s what they say. Is that what they really believe?
ABDULLAH: Well, I mean, you’re always going to have extremist elements that are going to be there to -- to find a -- a platform for recruiting. But you can’t really take them that seriously when the core issue, the major grievance in the Arab and Muslim world is solved.
And so, in Arab and Muslim minds, the most emotional aspect is the Palestinian cause and that of Jerusalem. And from there leads all the other problems.
...Let me go back to saying I think that the challenge we have here in America of connecting the dots. If you have an issue that the threat that Iran poses to Israel, which is what Netanyahu was saying, the best way of solving that problem is solving the core issue, which is the Palestinian problem and that of Jerusalem.
Because that regime goes to their people to say that the reason why we have nuclear weapons, the reason that we need to, to challenge Israel is, is because of the suffering of the Palestinians and the occupation of Jerusalem.
GREGORY: And what do you think is the best way for the United States to pursue or to persuade Iran to back away from a nuclear program?
ABDULLAH: Solving the Israeli-Palestinian problem.
GREGORY: That’s it?
ABDULLAH: That allows us to then solve the Israeli-Arab-Muslim problem.
In one sentence he admits that extremists are happy to exploit the Palestinian issue to recruit people, and the very next sentence he implies that no one would take them seriously if there was a Palestinian Arab state next to Israel - something that is manifestly ridiculous.
The Arab world isn't agitating for a peace agreement; they are agitating for the destruction of Israel. The "Arab street" doesn't demonstrate with posters that say "Two states for two peoples!" or "Give the West Bank to Palestinian Arabs" or "Evacuate the Settlements!" - their signs say "Death to Israel" (and, of course, "Death to America!")
A good interviewer would have turned Abdullah's assertion on its head, and asked, "Palestinian Arabs are some two thirds of Jordan's population. If Jordan would agree to create a Palestinian Arab state on its territory, would that solve the 'core problem' in the minds of the Arab people? If not, why not?"
It wouldn't take much to expose what the Arabs and Muslims mean when they say they want to "solve the Palestinian problem." And the solution has little to do with their love of Palestinian Arabs.