Typically, European governments have attempted to mollify Arab anger by protesting Israel’s decision to build new housing in Jerusalem, its sovereign capital. The Obama administration has also made its displeasure clear. But too many western policymakers fail to understand that the fundamental confrontation here is not between the west, Israel and Islam, but a series of brutal civil wars within the domain of Islam itself. The proof of that lies in the fact that more Muslims die at the hands of Islamist thugs than any other group.
In the coming weeks and months we can expect even greater disunity in the Arab republics of Egypt and Syria, which may well spread to the rest of the region. That is precisely why we need a unified western strategy that appraises the region for what it is – a vast area dominated by brutal extremists for whom human rights and human lives are meaningless – and not what we’d like it to be.