Many Western scholars paint a gloomy picture of the present situation in the Middle East. Take Michael B. Oren, for example, who claims, “the possibility that a border scrap between Israelis and Palestinians could ignite a regional conflagration should not be too surprising,” wrote in an article entitled “It’s the Middle East, Stupid,” published in The Washington Post.
Furthermore, he argues that “the candidates [of the United States] must be pressed about how they would handle a chain reaction in which events in Gaza suddenly engulf the entire region.
In fact, far from being the root cause of instability and war in the Middle East, one could argue that the Arab-Israeli conflict is rather peripheral, and that the region’s deeper and much more intractable problems lie elsewhere.
The greater Middle East, consists of 22 states, sixteen of them Arab, plus Iran, Israel, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, which most of them have failed to emerge as nation-states in classical European terms; all are remnants of various empires. And none of the states in the region enjoys fully defined or internationally recognized borders, let alone legitimacy.
Given the magnitude of the crisis in the wider Middle East, the Palestinian-Israeli crisis should be seen for what it is: a potato issue.
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