Bin Laden’s Bloody Shirt

Paul Pillar gleans an important tidbit from the papers captured in the Abottabad raid:

The one issue that bin Laden evidently stressed to his associates should be emphasized publicly above all others was Palestine.

He criticized affiliates and followers for justifying their actions as responses to local matters rather than being performed on behalf of the preeminent cause for all Muslims, which was Palestine. In making such admonitions, bin Laden was recognizing the enormous salience the Palestinian issue continues to have for for Muslims generally. It has all the ingredients for a cause well suited for exploitation by extremists. … That bin Laden was issuing such instruction is a further indication of the power of Palestine as an extremist cause célèbre. Bin Laden's first wish probably would have been to overthrow the House of Saud in Arabia. 

For years now, neocons have argued that Israel-Palestine was irrelevant to most Muslims, and that resolving the issue was not a priority for the US. I bought that for a while. No longer. And the notion that it was invented as a way for tyrants to keep their subjects in line will soon be tested in Egypt. What happens when America's relations with the democratic Muslim world cannot progress without a resolution of Israel-Palestine? I predict what we are already seeing: neocons lining up to bemoan an Arab winter rather than an Arab spring. Their support for Arab democracy will hit a wall of their own construction.