Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 12:18 PM ET, 02/ 7/2011

How Israel sees Egypt

By Jennifer Rubin

Israel's fear of unrest in Egypt is not irrational. For 30 years Israelis have lived without the fear of an Egyptian attack. And now they see Iran's proxy in control of Lebanon, the Muslim Brotherhood knocking at the door in Egypt and the ongoing problem of an Iran surrogate (Hamas) in Gaza. But there has also been a shift. Israelis will say that there has been a positive shift in America and the West from insistence on a swift departure for Hosni Mubarak to support for a more orderly, extended path to an Egypt with a more democratic government after Mubarak leaves office.

I'm not sure whether the United States has changed all that much (in its total incoherence it's hard to discern if the mushy rhetoric is shifting in any particular direction). But it is fair to say that while by no means optimistic, Israelis have begun to come to terms with the reality: There is going to be something post Mubarak. That might be, in an ideal world, a secular democracy. Less ideal but livable might be the Turkey of 2011: more Islamist, less pro-West but not focused on Israel's destruction and with significant ties to the West. And then there is the Iran of 1979 outcome, a revolutionary Islamist state. While we might find the Iranian analogy entirely inapt (we already saw that unlike Iranian security forces, the Egyptian military won't mow down its own people), Israel survives by planning for and worrying about the worst of all worlds.

Indeed, at the Herzliya Conference deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said as much on a panel discussion. He spoke about a Turkish model and the potential for an outcome that would not be a threat to Israel.

Savvy Israelis understand that diplomacy requires that one deal with reality -- where we are now. In that regard, the Obama administration and the Israeli government have similar interests. Both the United States and Israel would prefer to find a combination of secular and military forces to prepare Egypt for the transition to what one hopes will be no worse than the 2011 Turkey option. And considering the options and the unsustainability of Mubarak, Turkey 2011 (complete with a functioning economy) may not be a step backward from an economically impoverished Egypt that is seething with anger and increasingly anti-Semitic.

Imagine, however, what this does to Israel's willingness to "take risks" for peace. If a 30-year peace treaty can be imperiled, should Israelis and Americans expect a Palestinian deal (even if one could be reached) to last a 10th as long? No doubt a more reliable and warmer U.S.-Israel relationship would give Israel some confidence in these troubled times. However, as we know, everyone must deal with the reality that is -- an overwhelmed and out-of-its-depth U.S. administration, our diminished influence in the region (also due to Obama's ineptitude), and the collapse of repressive, aging despots unable to guarantee peace and stability. It certainly doesn't provide comfort to Israel or anyone else when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is already putting out the welcome mat for the Muslim Brotherhood. ("In an interview airing Sunday on National Public Radio, Clinton was noncommittal about the fundamentalist group's role in talks to try to end Egypt's political crisis, but she said that the decision suggests 'at least they are now involved.' ") Yes, it's going to be a bumpy road, but there is no going back.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 7, 2011; 12:18 PM ET
Categories:  foreign policy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Can we live with a nuclear Iran?
Next: Why do conservatives oppose the individual mandate?


Washington’s change of heart towards the embattled Egyptian president has not passed unnoticed in Israel, where the dominant reaction has been one of criticism — in government circles, among analysts and in the press.

“One gets the impression that Washington was pretty anxious to throw Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak overboard” once he became a cumbersome ally, a senior Israeli official told AFP, on condition of anonymity.

“Even if the American position has become more nuanced in the last few days, it doesn’t make it any less of a desertion. That’s what is most worrying,” he said.

“Loyalty is priceless, especially in the Middle East,” he said, warning that Washington’s sudden apparent ditching of the Egyptian leader could undermine the credibility of American foreign policy.


Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 7, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

If Israel would stop sabotaging any peace deal with Palestinians, I would have a lot more sympathy for them. It is almost as if they prefer extending the status quo to gobble up more Palestinian land for their settlers. They need to make a choice, are they going to be occupiers for the forseeable future (in which case they need to build infrastructure for the Palestinians)? Or, are they going to be partners in peace (in which case they need to stop all settlements and compromise)?
As things stand now, they are not reliable partners in the Middle East. Our partnership in their occupation damages our standing with every other country there. They treat the Palestinians as badly as apartheid South Africa treated native Africans and we treated native Americans. They have moved way beyond self-defense into the realm of oppression. They need to find a just way, or we should abandon them to the hell they create for themselves.
Just as our support of Egypt made us complicit in Mubarak's numerous crimes, our support of Israel makes us complicit in their crimes.

Posted by: billyvw | February 7, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Obama's hasty and badly advised betrayal of Hosni Mubarak has shaken Israel, and has shaken even relatively stalwart American allies like Jordan and Saudi Arabia. This treacherous American act will influence the entire international community and cast a shadow of doubt over American reliability for as long as Obama is in the White House.
The riots in Egypt have also shown all Israelis that in a trade of territory for a peace treaty, no matter with whom it is signed, that land is forever, and a peace treaty is just a piece of paper.

Posted by: Beniyyar | February 7, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

So, now it's all about Israel?

Posted by: jckdoors | February 7, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

billyvw, maybe if the Palestinians would at least sit down with Israel and negotiate they could accomplish something.
Of course you probably think that Israel is preventing the Palestinians from even negotiating, right?

Posted by: Beniyyar | February 7, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Israel needs to get its settlers out of Hebron and the West Bank. When Israel had its Southern flank safe from Egyptian attack, perhaps it could afford to take risks in the hope of gaining territory. That time is now past. Israel should relinquish the dream of a “Greater Israel,” either as a national aspiration or even as a negotiating ploy.

Israel’s position that it would keep Arab land in order to trade land for peace is a failed policy. It has not lead to peace and it has not lead to any recognition of its right to lands.

It is also demographically suicidal. Limited to even just its internationally-recognized borders, Israel has a minority population of more than 20% non-Jews. Such a large population of another ethnic group already threatens the idea of a “Jewish” state because such a large part of its population is not Jewish.

It is not in Israel's interest to keep settlements in the West Bank and Hebron.

Posted by: forrest3 | February 7, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Most Middle East nations face the same demographic issues as Egypt; a massive number of young people who simply cannot find jobs and are extremely unhappy with their inability to start families or purchase homes. Here is a look at just how desperate the situation is for young and highly educated Egyptians:

Posted by: Baywoodfarm | February 7, 2011 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Israel would be safer if it respected its neighbours and dealt with them on a principle of equality and fairness instead of arrogance eminating from the barrel of a tank. Israel feels it is militarliy superior to its neighbours so respect will need to take a back seat.

Now it is afraid that the Egyptian people will elect a democratic regime which will not tolerate 'operation cast iron' etc where the IDF goes into Gaza with impunity and massacres 1100 people the vast majority civilian and get away with it.

Israel is afraid with a freely elected regime in Egypt it will find it harder and harder to occupy more land from its Palestinian neighbour and that Egypt will demand it treat the Arab people better.

Thats the real fear of israel and its supporters because no one in their right mind would imagine a democratic regime in Egypt instantly waging war on Israel.

No matter what you people do, the genie is out of the bottle, you used Mubarek to your advantage with deadly accuracy, fooled entire Arab nation for 30 years, secretly and silently feeding the Egyptian so they would not rise and revolt, but how long can a corrupt regime survive? another 5 years, 7 years, then what? You cannot keep democracy away from Egyptians forever, sooner or later Israel will have to learn to live with a free independant puppet free Egypt next door, in fact it should prepare for a puppet free regime in Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Yemen, etc

The people are awakening, they are rising from years of neglect, and shaking off the drowsiness, the fact that the US enabled their dictators for so long, making the people oblivious to what was going on, who was pulling the strings.

Israel better wake up and start behaving itself better, or else will find itself in real hot waters as it has already lost Iran and Turkey.

Posted by: nowthetruth | February 7, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

"It certainly doesn't provide comfort to Israel or anyone else when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is already putting out the welcome mat for the Muslim Brotherhood"

Any rational thinking person would immedidately understand that you TOO are putting out the wlecome mat for the MB.

For two weeks now you have been plugging democracy nearly every day. Democracy in Egypt means inclusion of what everyone agrees is the best organized and largest political party.

Only you could possibly maintain this oxymoronic stance that democracy in Egypt does not include participation of the MB.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 7, 2011 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Poverty has often forced the best of us to sell our family treasures. National pride should not stand in the way of the Egyptian people, they can sell the King Tut exhibit with bricks from the pyramids. It would stimulate the Egyptian economy and put billions into the pockets of the malcontents.

Posted by: morristhewise | February 7, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: dseigler2 | February 7, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

So Obama was supposed to "manage" the Egyptian situation for Israel's benefit?

You need to get right out there to Tahrir Square, Miss Rubin, and tell those protesters where their priorities really need to be. Silly people. How could they be so inconsiderate to the US and Israel?

Posted by: karlmarx2 | February 7, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Check this piece by Kristol as an antidote for the poison generated by Rubin above. And imagine,an editorial,by a Neo-Con,favoring the Revolutionary process in Egypt,and without any concern for Israel.

Posted by: rcaruth | February 7, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Do we need the jews?
After all, we created the articial state and now we regret it.

Posted by: analyst72 | February 7, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Israel's 'irrationality' is carrying out self-serving policies under the assumption that the friendly Egyptian dictators would continue. Where is the surprise that Mubarak is on the way out -- maybe only that he is leaving while still alive? Did Israel actually think the friendly Egyption dictators could be continued indefinitely with the massive the US bribes?

The problem with Israel is that Israel doesn't want to come to terms with the Palestinians in a way that would be satisfactory to the Palestinians. A two-state solution that would be acceptable to Israel would certainly have to be forced on the Palestinian people (as is well shown in the WikiLeaks Palestinian Papers). Thus, such a two-state solution would only be sustainable by force.

So, a Democracy is good for Egypt because democracy is good; and Egyptian democracy is good for Israel and Palestine because it will force Israel to get real by getting honest in dealing with Palestian.

Posted by: riskpref | February 7, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Beniyyar: If you read the Palestine papers, you will see that the Palestinians were negotiating in good faith. The Israelis decided to sabotage talks by resuming settler activity in Palestinian lands. Unilaterally deciding to build on other people's land is not exactly a sign of good faith. I guess they figure they can get squatters rights in any final agreement. If I were in the Palestinians' shoes, I would have walked away too.

Posted by: billyvw | February 7, 2011 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Calm down folks, the people of Egypt only aspire to overthrow a corrupt 30 year old regime, people are just tired of looking at Mubareks face daily.

The Egyptian people are not new on the world scene, they are wise and will not encourage fanatic co-religionists to make their future as dark as their past.

The danger of Egypt falling the way of Iran is overblown, and the Egyptians are sunni, and sunnis have always been moderate globally.

by Norman Macleod, 1857.

Courage, brother! do not stumble,
Though thy path is dark as night;
There's a star to guide the humble--
Trust in God and do the right.

Let the road be long and dreary,
And its ending out of sight;
Foot it bravely--strong or weary,
Trust in God and do the right.

Perish "policy" and cunning,
Perish all that fears the light;
Whether losing, whether winning,
Trust in God and do the right.

Trust no party, trust no faction,
Trust no leaders in the fight;
But in every word and action
Trust in God and do the right.

and goes on.....

Posted by: nowthetruth | February 7, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

So, now it's all about Israel?

- This Rubin's article is. Israel is obviously of interest to her.

Why? Not exactly our business. Why Mark Twain wrote a special story of Heck Finn, but not of Becky Thatcher?
Maybe she is a Jewess, maybe she is an Arab woman, maybe she politically admires Netanyahu, or maybe Nefertiti was among her grand-nd-nd-nd-nd-ndmas. It is all the Mystery of the East, Jack. We can't understand it.

Posted by: boroda | February 7, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

nowthetruth quotes the powerful verse:

Trust no party, trust no faction,
Trust no leaders in the fight;
But in every word and action
Trust in God and do the right.

- I am almost ready, the only question remains - in which God we trust? Since 1857 we have seen remarkable proliferation of deities and their detractors.

Posted by: boroda | February 7, 2011 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Do we need the jews?
After all, we created the articial state and now we regret it.

- I learned in my childhood that Jews were created by God. We... did it? Besides, why did he need them?

Posted by: boroda | February 7, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Rubin article should be considered in the context and as fair response to Aaaron Miller small trickery with words: "Why Israel fears a free Egypt?". So she has had her day on the page.

My interpretation of Israel's predicament is quite opposite to the Rubin's. Israel has absolutely nothing to fear from Egypt, even the Brotherhood is a bunch of very nice (though unshaven guys). But all the Israelis should be scary of one kind of freedom - the cavalier freedom with which certain Aaaron David Miller feeds us with propaganda.

Posted by: boroda | February 7, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Beniyyar wrote:

“Obama's hasty and badly advised betrayal of Hosni Mubarak has shaken Israel, and has shaken even relatively stalwart American allies like Jordan and Saudi Arabia.”

Are any of these states secular democracies Ben? If not, what have you got against democracy? Is it not in Israel's interests to encourage democracy in the region?

“This treacherous American act will influence the entire international community and cast a shadow of doubt over American reliability for as long as Obama is in the White House.”

The treachery is Obama's against the populations of the region. Obama is trying to undermine them by maintaining the Mubarak regime.

The riots in Egypt have also shown all Israelis that in a trade of territory for a peace treaty, no matter with whom it is signed, that land is forever, and a peace treaty is just a piece of paper.”

Israel has already demonstrated this by violating it repeatedly. The reason Israel is worried about the treaty, it not that it would be discarded, but that it would be forced to abide by it.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 7, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

"Israel survives by planning for and worrying about the worst of all worlds".

No comment.

Posted by: ratl | February 7, 2011 7:34 PM | Report abuse

"Israel survives by planning for and worrying about the worst of all worlds".

That's called a self fulfilling prophecy.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 7, 2011 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Israel has found it expeditious to continue the conflict with the Palestinians in order to steal their land.

Peace with Egypt was an important part of that strategy.


Posted by: russellglee | February 7, 2011 9:06 PM | Report abuse

If Egypt vitiates the treaty Israel should tell the Palestinians to contact them when they have a fully functioning democracy. What gall it would be for the Egyptians to keep the Sinai and not honor the peace treaty, after telling Israel that all they had to do was trade land for peace. Let's hope the people of Egypt have more honor than that.

Posted by: pella5 | February 7, 2011 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Bush 43 fought a war for "a free and democratic Iraq" even though any dim bulb could see the likely outcome would be an Iran leaning shia led government. Really though Jennifer you would have more credibility if you would stop Obama bashing. What does the right wing support consistently? Bush let Israel embarrass themselves in Lebanon. The elections in Gaza were won by Hamas. All under the hapless Republicans. Killing Muslims daily is what is destroying US credibility in the Middle East. Far too much civilian blood has been spilled and Baghdad still has massive unemployment and little electricity. Maybe that is the real reason our influence is declining and Iran's rising.

Posted by: chucko2 | February 7, 2011 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Israel has already violated the peace treaty. You might remember something about treating the Palestinians with respect and withdrawing from the OT?

What do you suggest the Egyptian do about that?

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 7, 2011 10:57 PM | Report abuse






Freemasons and Dajjal (The Anti-christ) by Kamran R'ad ...
Freemasons and Dajjal (The Antichrist) FREEMASONRY, A SECRET SOCIETY: FORMED IN THE TIME ... DISMANTLING OF THE MUSLIM KHILAFAH, NAQSHE-DIL, ATATURK, FAMOUS MUSLIM FREEMASONS, ... Muslim Nursery Rhymes. 4. The Soul's Journey After Death ... - United Kingdom - Cached - Similar

Suppression of Freemasonry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Freemasonry is illegal in most of the Islamic world. .... later reinforced ... - Cached - Similar

Islamic world

After the condemnation of Freemasonry by Clement XII in 1738, Sultan Mahmut I followed suit outlawing the organization and since that time Freemasonry was equated with atheism in the Ottoman Empire and the broader Islamic world.[10] The opposition in the Islamic world has been reinforced by the anticlerical and atheistic slant of the Grand Orient of France.[10]

Perhaps the most influential entity interpreting Sharia, or Islamic law, the Islamic Jurisdictional College on July 15, 1978 issued an opinion regarding Freemasonry asserting that it is a "dangerous" and "clandestine" organization.[10]

Freemasonry is illegal in most of the Islamic world. It is prohibited in all Arab countries except Lebanon and Morocco.[10]

Who is Dajjal
Dajjal and FreeMasons in Islamic Perspective PROFICIENCIES OF THE HOLY .... we all have starting loving this world's wealth and are frightened from death? ... Every Muslim will be able to read these letters whether he is literate or ... - Cached - Similar

Muslim anti-Masonry
Further information: Iraqi Baathist Anti-Masonry and The Covenant of Hamas

Posted by: shaiarra | February 8, 2011 1:37 AM | Report abuse

Jennifer, I'm glad you've finally caught on that Egyptian "democracy" will not likely be a salutary development for the US or our ally Israel.

I think the Turkish example is inapt for two reasons. First, Turkey has been a far more secular society than Egypt since the days of Ataturk almost a century ago. Turkey has had pluralism, a powerful westernized middle class, a free press, multiple political parties, and other prerequisites of democracy that Egypt still lacks. Even so, the Turkish military has historically been forced to intervene periodically when the politicians have failed.

Second, Turkey is no longer that great an example of a favorable outcome. Its Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan is cautiously but relentlessly transforming Turkey from a secular, democratic, pro-Israel member of NATO to a fundamentalist, authoritarian friend of Hamas and Iran. A young Turkish blogger, for instance, was just sentenced to two years in prison for criticizing Erdogan. Erdogan has slowly neutered the army, the free press and the Kemalist legacy of secularism. While he has proceeded cautiously, as Islamists don't control the guns, he has described democracy as a street car that you ride to your destination, then get off.

The MB in Egypt would reach their destination much quicker than Erdogan. Eight-two percent of Egyptians are anti-American, according to a poll released this week, and big majorities in a recent Pew poll favored death to Muslim apostates, amputation of limbs, stoning of adulterers, and other barbaric features of sharia law. If the Egyptian public gets what they want, we won't like it and they probably won't either.

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."
H. L. Mencken

Posted by: eoniii | February 8, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Ohhhh, THAT's why Israel is an "island of democracy" in the midst of repressive Arab regimes. It's because they've had the U.S. prop up those dictators in order to maintain their own unjust existence, denying everyone but themselves the right to self-governance and self-determination. No wonder that popular Arab sentiment is anti-Israel, as it's because of Israel that Arabs have had to live under dictators. Well, at some point, Israel is going to realize they have to share the land with the other people who are native to the area, and democracy is not achieved by excluding people.

Posted by: yihe94703 | February 9, 2011 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Great, let's pull out all of our military donations to our dictator allies in the Middle East, let democracy flourish, and save our taxes. With all that money we spend on military messes over there, we could have converted to renewable energy by now.

Posted by: yihe94703 | February 9, 2011 1:25 AM | Report abuse

"Turkey has been a far more secular society than Egypt since the days of Ataturk almost a century ago. Turkey has had pluralism, a powerful westernized middle class, a free press, multiple political parties, and other prerequisites of democracy that Egypt still lacks. Even so, the Turkish military has historically been forced to intervene periodically when the politicians have failed."

The success behind Turkey's progress towards independence and self determination (ie. freedome from Western interference) is due to the fact that Erdonag was able to wrestle power away from the military and end the days on totoalitarianism and militarism. Mubarak never tried to do that because unlike Turkey's military (which was intended to defend the country), Egypts mlitary was always intended to be used against the people of Egypt.

Turkey is a shining example os an excellent outcome. It's status in the world has risden considerably, it's economy is booming and it had taken a lead in the Middel East as a power. Some are predicting that Turkey may become a superpower, at least economically.

Erdogan has listened to his contituents and embraces Islam while keeping the extremsists at bay. The extremists have no foothold in Turkey because they have no following. Erdogan realized that the US was a decaying and falling empire and as such, made the wide descision to establish good relations with Tuerkey's neighbors as opposed to maintaining hostile ones to keep Washington happy.

Erdgon, along with Egypot, has demonstrated that Washington is not remotely interested in democracy when it comes to the Middle East. Afer all, it was Paul Wolfowitz who admonished the Turkis military for not ignoring Ankara's order not to participate in the Iraq war. According to Wolfowitz, it showed that Turkey wasn't a democracy.

That's what Washington thinks of democracy when it comes to the Middle East.

Egyptians have not typicalyl been anti-America, but given the spineless and lame rhetotic from Washington, they have udnerstandably turned on the US, and are disgusted with out gutlesss leadeership. They were told by Bush that the US wanted to spead democracy throughout the Arab world, and they learned the hard way that Washington is full of it.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 9, 2011 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company