Marc Lynch says that al-Qaida is likely to be one of the main beneficiaries of the fighting in Gaza:
From al-Qaeda’s perspective, therefore, Israel’s assault on Gaza is an unmitigated blessing. The images flooding the Arab and world media have already discredited moderates, fueled outrage, and pushed the center of political gravity towards more hard-line and radical positions. As in past crises, Islamists of all stripes are outbidding each other, competing to “lead” the popular outrage, while “moderates” are silent or jumping on the bandwagon.
Al-Qaeda likely can not thank Israel enough for its efforts over the last two weeks. Over the last few years, al-Qaeda has been losing ground with the mainstream Muslim public — because of its real radicalism and fringe ideology, its killing of so many Muslim innocents in its attacks in Muslim countries, challenges from other Islamist groups and from within its own ranks, an increasingly effective strategic communications campaign by Western and Arab governments, and more. Israel’s military assault against Gaza threatens to reverse that trend.
Sadly, he’s right.
And while the West stands shoulder to shoulder with Israel, Arab and Muslim opinion will blame the West by extension. So the West will get blamed for forcing 110 people into a house and shelling it, or children who are too weak to stand.
This is a problem because it means that the West’s values — things like democracy, reform, political pluralism — will gain less traction in the Arab and Muslim worlds. This means that if the West wants good relationships with Arab countries, it must stop giving unconditional support to Israel. Support is reasonable, but it must be conditional on the Israeli government behaving like decent civilised people not Nazi wannabes.