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Jonathan Power: Palestine and the War of Civilizations

Just what Barack Obama needs as he prepares to be the forty-fourth president of the United States: another Israeli/Palestinian war re-inflaming passions all over the Arab and Muslim world. Will that middle name of his count for something in this intense firefight?

Well, possibly—but only if he moves fast to change the long-time American emphasis on supporting, by both word and deed, the Israeli side at the Palestinian’s expense. It is as simple—and as complicated—as that. After the Bush years, during which the “clash of civilizations” became the de facto interpretation of American, and to some extent European, policy in the region, the West quickly needs to de-escalate its fixation with what it often interprets as the rabid policies of the Islamic world. The focus instead should be on restoring a sense of humility in dealing with the world-wide Muslim civilization, albeit one with its share of bad apples.

Comparison, even in the time of Al Qaeda, does not work in Christendom's favor. The West should not overlook its near-takeover by the Nazis, whose attempt to eliminate the Jews was launched from a country that was in many ways the fulcrum of modern Christianity. It would be a mistake to forget the inroads that atheistic Marxism made in Europe; or the everyday crime rates in Western nations that far, far exceed those in Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East.

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