NEW YORK — Prior to leaving Egypt for the United Nations General Assembly, Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi told The New York Times the United States needs to “fundamentally change” its approach to the Arab world. That includes, he said, showing greater respect for Arab values, as well as helping to build a Palestinian state.
It isn't the policies and attitude of the United States toward the Arab world that need changing. It's the attitude and policies of the Arab world that need to change. For a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who still subscribes to the group's radical beliefs, to blame America for problems in the Arab world is like blaming the mirror for what it reflects.
Which nation is in greater need of an attitude adjustment? In USA Today recently, there was this line: “…more than a year after (Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak's ouster, not much has changed for women…” The story contains pictures of Egyptian women being harassed by men on the streets of Cairo this summer during their “holy” month of Ramadan. The caption mentions activists who say that “harassment of women in the streets spikes during Muslim holidays.” Did U.S. attitudes toward Arabs cause this harassment?
Then there's terrorism. A significant amount of terrorist activity emanates geographically and religiously from the Arab and Muslim world. Hatred for all things Jewish, Christian and Western can be found in children's textbooks in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and throughout the Middle East — hate that is then reinforced by mullahs and Arab media. Is such hatred the fault of the United States? Coptic Christians are fleeing Egypt. It is Egyptian persecution, not American attitudes that prompts them to leave.
With a few notable exceptions, Arab and Muslin nations mostly lived in unenviable conditions under extreme religious and tribal codes long before the United States and Israel came into being. Perhaps it was the “thought” of a country that treats women as equal to men, practices religious pluralism and tolerance for other beliefs — or no belief — that infuriated the Arab masses prior to 1776?
As for Palestinian-Israeli relations, how many times has Israel relinquished land seized for its security from invading Arab nations bent on its destruction? How many times has Israel compromised in many other ways as it sought peace with its Arab neighbors and the Palestinians? And how many times have the Palestinians not kept up their end of agreements, and, in fact, continue to incite their own people to “jihad” for the purpose of eliminating Israel? Which attitudes are in most need of reform? Meaningful peace must precede discussions of a Palestinian state.