Marc Lynch: Arab public opinion hasn’t shifted

Responding to ideas like those expressed by Leon Wieseltier, Marc Lynch writes that we shouldn’t pretend that U.S. and Israeli policy are less important to average Arabs:

That has real consequences for U.S. policy towards Israel, towards Iran, and across the region.  We should not fool ourselves into believing the common refrain that these revolts are not about the United States.   Foreign policy is not the driver or the main slogan of the protests, but the foreign policy of these regimes is an organic part of the wider critique of their incompetence and failure.  The al-Jazeera narrative criticizing the Arab order has always equated domestic repression with a foreign policy subordinated to the U.S. and Israel.   The empowered Arab public really does care about Palestinians, even if their leaders didn’t much, and is far less enthusiastic about confronting Iran.   If Obama tries to align the U.S. with these other aspirations but avoids Palestine or other foreign policy issues, he will fall on deaf ears.  But while I’m skeptical of a grand new peace initiative right now in such turbulent conditions, it’s worth pointing out that the current upheavals strongly suggest that the Israeli-Palestinian status quo, which seems so comfortable for many involved, is just as unsustainable as the status quo of Arab authoritarian regimes.


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