So reads the sub-title to an article at Politico Magazine by Hisham Melhem, the Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite channel, and a correspondent for Annahar, the leading Lebanese daily.

The title is The Barbarians Within Our Gates (h/t Sunanda Vashisht), and here is an excerpt:

Yes, it is misleading to lump—as some do—all Islamist groups together, even though all are conservative in varying degrees. As terrorist organizations, al Qaeda and Islamic State are different from the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative movement that renounced violence years ago, although it did dabble with violence in the past.

Nonetheless, most of these groups do belong to the same family tree—and all of them stem from the Arabs’ civilizational ills.

The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, is the tumorous creation of an ailing Arab body politic. Its roots run deep in the badlands of a tormented Arab world that seems to be slouching aimlessly through the darkness. It took the Arabs decades and generations to reach this nadir. It will take us a long time to recover—it certainly won’t happen in my lifetime.

My generation of Arabs was told by both the Arab nationalists and the Islamists that we should man the proverbial ramparts to defend the “Arab World” against the numerous barbarians (imperialists, Zionists, Soviets) massing at the gates. Little did we know that the barbarians were already inside the gates, that they spoke our language and were already very well entrenched in the city.

You mean Israel isn’t to blame for all the Arab world’s problems?

And therein lies the peace problem.

While Western leftists (including many academics behind the BDS movement) dishonestly or naively focus on Zionism, people like Melhem recognize the root cause is internal to the Arab world.


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