Really, it's right here on CNN's website: The Arab-Israeli conflict is the most important, most intractable problem in the Muslim world. (See end of post for an update on CNN's recent editing of this sentence.)
Certainly, much of the Arab world, as well as Israel’s opponents in Europe and the US, like to promote this worldview.
It makes sense for the Arab world to do this; what better way to get what you want, than to say, ‘If you just give me this, I’ll be happy and stop killing you?’
But it’s nonsense – utter and complete nonsense. Off-hand, I can list ten problems in the Muslim world that are more important, or more intractable, or both:
• The Sunni-Shiite clashes, which kill far more Muslims each year than anything going on in Israel
• The murder of Muslims in Darfur
• The rights of women in Muslim countries
• Poverty in Indonesia
• Muslim-Hindu conflicts in India and Pakistan
• The rights of homosexuals and Christians (how's that for a combination?) in Muslim countries
• Kashmir, and the India-Pakistan wars in general
• The stranglehold of Arab emirates on the economies of their countries
• The reliance of Arab governments and economies on oil profits
• The hostility between Iran and its allies on one side, and Egypt and its allies on the other
And, yes, there are more; we haven’t even touched Iran’s nuclear ambitions, or the whole cultural crisis of Islam and Westernization, or Chechnya, or the Balkans, for example.
So “Israel is the most important and most intractable issue in the Muslim world?” Who are you trying to kid, CNN?
When Osama bin Laden attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the Palestinian issue was not even part of his agenda; his agenda was explicitly stated as ridding the Middle East of US presence and influence. It was only after he was criticized in the Arab world for ignoring the Palestinian/Israeli issue, that he added it to the mix.
Let’s be honest here, folks. The Israeli/Palestinian issue is not even in the Top 10, and never has been.
Why don’t we call it for what it is? It’s a distraction from the real problems facing the Muslim world, a way to deflect attention from major issues and keep the powerful and oil-rich on their thrones.
[Update, 1 PM EDT: They have now updated the sentence to reflect a marginally more nuanced view. Now, it reads: Arabs and Muslims wait to hear his words on their most important, most intractable problem: the Arab-Israeli conflict. By adding "Arabs" they hope to remove issues like Chechnya and Pakistan from the calculus. But it's still phony, as seen in the list of items above.]