Middle East expert Tawfik Hamid tells Newsmax that hard-line Egyptian Muslims’ statements that they will consider talks with Israel represent a “tactical shift” — not genuine change — and that the Obama administration should approach Egyptian Islamists with caution.
Hamid expressed concern about a recent meeting between the State Department and the Muslim Brotherhood. President Barack Obama “must be very clear with the Muslim Brotherhood that there will be no support from the United States at all if they did not respect the basic values of human rights, if they broke the peace treaty with Israel,” Hamid insisted during an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.
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During the interview, Hamid also talked about the roots of anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, insisting that rhetoric doesn’t matter when it comes to the issue of sitting down with Israel.
“What matters is the reality in changing what they teach their youngest. Do they teach them to respect Israel as a state? Do they put it on the map in geography for the children? Or are they still ignoring its existence?” said Hamid, an Egyptian-born Muslim intellectual and one-time follower of radical Islam who now is a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and a columnist for Newsmax.com.
Anti-Semitism permeates all levels of Egyptian society, Hamid said. Among the main causes for the anti-Semitism in the Muslim world are prophecies that say Muslims “must fight the Jews and kill all of them,” he said.
“The sensitive issue is what should America do next?” Hamid said. “That is the most sensitive issue here.”
It could be disastrous for the United States to put too much pressure on either the Muslim Brotherhood or the radical Salafis, he said. Democracy would disappear if either group took control of the military and the police, he said.
Hamid also addressed the sexual assault of CBS war correspondent Lara Logan in Tahrir Square almost a year ago, saying that it was an act of revenge on the West — and the United States in particular.
Asked how Egyptians would respond if one of their own female journalists were assaulted similarly on the Washington Mall, he said, “They would react furiously.”
“This is typical tribal mentality. They feel it more when it touches their own people. They don’t feel it when it affects the other,” he said. “This is one of the psychological problems and thinking problems that needs to change in the Muslim world in general.”
The more than 100 men who assaulted Logan — she later said they raped her with their hands — probably never were found and prosecuted because Egyptian military leaders did not want to rile their followers who saw the assault as “a victory over infidels” and “a revenge upon the Americans,” Hamid said.
Also, he said, those leaders do not want to admit mistakes. “And this is one of the biggest problems we have in the country,” he said. “We don’t admit our mistakes. It was much better for the military to come and say, look, we’ll investigate this, if this was true, we’ll severely punish the people.”
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