The international community should focus on the true root of conflict in the Middle East, which is the human rights violations occurring in the Muslim world.
Many world leaders appear to falsely believe that if only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were solved, all of the problems that presently exist in the Middle East would magically disappear. For this reason, they focus an enormous amount of energy on trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, instead of attempting to halt the democide in Syria; stopping the tyrannical regime in Iran; or pressuring the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood into respecting women’s rights, freedom of speech and minority rights. Yet, even if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were to end tomorrow, all of these problems that cause much conflict would still exist.
DEMOCIDE IN SYRIA
The situation in Syria is deteriorating by the day. Presently, whether 94,000 or 120,000 Syrians have perished, more Syrians have been killed within the last two years than the total number of causalities from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict between 1948 and 2009. Aside from the horrific death toll, Syrian civilians are getting tortured and raped en masse, while entire population centers are getting leveled to the ground. As a result, many Syrians have been forced to flee their homes. Over 1.6 million Syrians are presently refugees, according to the United Nations. Women and children make up three quarters of the Syrian refugee population, likely because the Syrian regime has resorted to rape as a political tool to oppress the Syrian people. No amount of pressure on Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders will improve the plight of the people of Syria.
MASS REPRESSION IN IRAN
The present reality in Iran is also atrocious. In a country where adulteresses are routinely stoned to death, female political prisoners are as a matter of policy raped before they are executed, believers in the Bahai faith are denied the right to practice their religion, being gay is viewed to be a capital offense, and the present ruling regime seeks to have nuclear power; Iran remains a problematic state, despite the recent election of pragmatic Islamists to power. Peace negotiations between Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu would not convince the Iranian leadership to institute democratic reforms and stop their nuclear program in the absence of international pressure.
THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD DICTATORSHIP IN EGYPT
Under the Muslim Brotherhood’s tutelage, Egypt is slowly creeping in the direction of becoming another Iran. The Arab Spring there is quickly turning into a dark winter. Since the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power, the Egyptian press is being radicalized, while liberal voices within Egypt are being persecuted. Some Egyptian human rights activists claim that there is no difference between the Muslim Brotherhood and Mubarak when it comes to oppressing dissent. Like in Iran, women and minorities are suffering significantly under Islamist rule.
Sexual harassment and rape within Egypt has worsened under the Muslim Brotherhood, with many of the instances of gender based violence originating with the Muslim Brotherhood itself. Some Egyptian women who have attempted to protest against this phenomenon have been gang raped. Meanwhile, the situation for Egypt’s Jewish and Coptic minorities have also significantly worsened. Copts have gotten massacred since Mubarak fell from power, illustrating that Egypt is not a safe place for Christians, unlike Israel, which is the safest place for Christians in the entire Middle East. The few Jews left in Egypt can’t walk in the streets without getting harassed. Elements of Egyptian society are opposed to Egyptian Jews having minority rights. None of this will change should an historic peace agreement be reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
FOCUS ON ISSUES AT HAND
Members of the international community, instead of focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with tunnel vision, should take off their blinders and pay attention to the real issues that are causing conflict in the Middle East. These issues include stopping a nuclear Iran; establishing genuine Middle Eastern democracies that respect minority rights, women’s rights, and freedom of speech; and preventing massive human rights violations from continuing to occur throughout the Muslim Middle East. Solving the Israel- Palestine conflict will not address any of these issues.