President Obama has wisely declared this strange war on a technique at an end, but the question needs to be asked: Is Israel a valuable partner to the U.S. or a liability?
The basis for terror attacks on the United States was said by President Bush to be that "they hate our freedoms", but what do those who have attacked us give as their motivation?
Is Israel/the Palestinian issue a significant source of Arab anger?
Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian whose writing inspires many Islamic fundamentalists, was angered by it.
Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the first WTC attack (1996), wanted to stop the killing of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers and believed attacking the U.S. would achieve this.
Osama bin Laden was deeply concerned about the issue since he was a young man, angry and frustrated with the U.S. for supporting Israel. His first public statement (1994) directly addressed the Palestinian issue. He condemned the U.S. for support of Israel and called for jihad against the U.S. several times before 9/11 including in his 1996 fatwa - "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places". Payback for injustice against the Palestinians is a recurrent theme in his speeches.
bin Laden tried to accelerate the 9/11 attack after Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in 2000. The 9/11 Commission confirmed his motivation was due to Palestinian injustice and US support for Israel. This commission also found Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (architect of 9/11) primarily motivated by the Palestinian issue.
In 2006, Sheik Naim Qassem (deputy leader of Hezbollah) told a Lebanese crowd, "There is no longer a political place for America in Lebanon. Do you not recall that the weapons fired on Lebanon were American weapons?"
Ussama Makdisi (professor of Middle East history at Rice University) says, "on no issue is Arab anger at the United States more widely and acutely felt that that of Palestine...For it is over Palestine that otherwise antithetical Arab secularist and Islamist interpretations of history converge in their common perception of an immense gulf separating official American avowals of support for freedom from actual American policies."
A Zogby poll of Arabs in six countries asked, "what is the first thing you think about when you think of America?". The most common answer: unfair foreign policy. Another question was,
"what could America do to change this?". The answer: change Middle East policy/stop supporting Israel.
In 2004 Hosni Mubarak said, "there exists a hatred of America never equaled in the region (in part because Arabs) see Sharon act as he wants, without the Americans saying anything"
In 2007 King Abdullah of Jordan said to a joint session of Congress: "The denial of justice and peace in Palestine...is the core issue."
Mearsheimer and Walt in The Israel Lobby write,
"... the U.S. pays a substantial price for supporting Israel so consistently. This posture fuels hostility toward the U.S. in the Middle East, motivates anti-American extremists and aids their recruiting, gives authoritarian governments in the region an all-too-convenient scapegoat for their own failings, and makes it harder for Washington to convince potential supporters to confront extremists in their own countries....backing Israel against the Palestinians makes winning the war on terror harder, not easier..."
I'm reminded of Pete Seeger's lyric from the Vietnam War era - "knee deep in the big muddy and the big fool says to push on". There couldn't be more powerful evidence showing the source of anger against the United States and we see the results. Yet, on we go regardless.