Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egyptian connections

Demonstrator waves Egyptian flag -- in Cairo? 
No, in Yafo, next door to Tel Aviv!
29 January '11

The world-shaking events (yes, it’s not an exaggeration) happening right now in Egypt have triggered a few related ramblings:

Remember the ‘linkage theory’ — the idea that the Israeli-Arab conflict was the ‘root’ of most of the trouble in the Mideast, and that ‘solving’ it (by establishing a Palestinian Arab state, of course) would usher in an era of peace and stability?

Do you think this would affect the unrest in Egypt — or for that matter, in Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria or Lebanon?

Maybe the strains between conservative Arab dictatorships and their liberal (weak) and Islamist (strong) oppositions play a role? Or maybe the project of the Islamic Republic of Iran to establish its hegemony in the region has something to do with it?

Could it possibly be that some of this is actually not Israel’s fault? Hard to believe, I know.

And here’s a corollary: the proposition that the Israeli-Arab conflict itself could be solved by ‘ending the (1967) occupation’. Here’s a little piece of conflict that happened today, in Yafo (Jaffa), which has been part of Israel since 1948:

About 1,000 Jaffa residents hit the streets Saturday to protest the “phenomenon of Jewish settlement” in the mixed city located just south of Tel Aviv.

Muslim and Christian residents, as well as Jewish left-wing activists, are charging that religious settlers who moved to Jaffa are abusing Arabs in town and stirring provocations.

Many protestors carried Egyptian and Palestinian flags, chanting “Allahu Akbar” and “we’ll liberate Jaffa with blood.” …

“Only through Intifada and mutiny can revolutions be achieved,” [an Arab protester] said. “Jaffa is just like Cairo for us.” — YNet

My goodness — here they are objecting to ‘Jewish settlers’ in a city that has been part of Israel since 1948! It makes one wonder what they mean when they call for ‘ending the occupation’.

Here’s another Egyptian connection: the historic 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt has proved in practice to be little more than an extended cease-fire. Radicals associated with the Muslim Brotherhood murdered President Anwar Sadat for signing it, and have called for its abrogation ever since.

The Mubarak government, in consideration of billions in aid from the US each year, has avoided direct conflict with Israel. But it has refused to allow ordinary Egyptians to visit Israel, allows massive antisemitic incitement in its media — Mein Kampf is a bestseller and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was serialized for TV — and continues to make anti-Israel and anti-American statements on a regular basis. Its army holds maneuvers each year in which Israel is the putative enemy.

This regime has not been a great bargain, not for the US and not for Israel, which gave up the very strategic and potentially economically important Sinai for it. But if a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated regime were to get power — and keep in mind that it is the second most powerful force in Egypt, after the army — then it would likely tear up the treaty (it would also be an enemy of the US).

Can you imagine another Israeli-Egyptian war? Especially after Egypt has pumped huge amounts of aid into high-quality American weapons? It wouldn’t be pretty, not for either side. But that’s what’s at stake there.

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