Israel Should Side With Egypt's Protesters

Wednesday, 09 Feb 2011 12:29 PM

By Tawfik Hamid

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Israel is facing the real possibility that the peace treaty between it and Egypt could be at risk if Mubarak is out of power.

There are at least three sources for the anti-Israeli views in the country: the well-organized Muslim Brotherhood, the ordinary individuals who have been brainwashed through the Arab media to and religious education, and the secularists who hate Israel for political reasons as many of them are followers of the anti-Israeli views of Nasser (former president of Egypt).

Israel is fully justified in concerns that the coming leaders in Egypt may try to end the peace treaty with Israel. They are particularly fearful of change bringing an increase in power for the Muslim Brotherhood with an Iran-like enemy state looming on their borders. In response to this concern, Israel must sustain appropriate military preparedness.

At the same time, supporting Mubarak and standing against the will of people in this stage of history can actually make this scenario more likely to happen because Israel will be perceived as supporting an oppressive tyrant.

Many peaceful demonstrators have been killed under Mubarak's watch. According to several news media, he has stolen billions of dollars from his people. And chaos and violence reigned over the country when his interior minister (Habib Al-Adli) released thousands of criminals and thugs from the prisons of Egypt. This release appeared to be designed to create fear so that Egyptians, believing that Mubarak is vital for the security of the nation, would turn against the demonstrators.

The collapse of Mubarak is inevitable. Siding with him, given the profoundly negative image he has for most citizens in Egypt, will only work to increase the already dominant anti-Semitic views in the country.

By contrast, siding with Egyptian demonstrators, supporting their right to live in freedom and sending them the best wishes of the people of Israel could prove very fruitful. Israeli support could create doubt among many Egyptians that their traditional judgment that the Jews are bad people might be unfounded.

The Jewish people have a very strong point to use to win the hearts and minds of Egyptians. Jews lived in Egypt under oppression from the pharaohs.

Their story of achieving freedom after years of slavery and suppression could resonate with modern Egyptians. Informing Egyptians that the Jewish people feel for their suffering having endured and then escaped from similar circumstances could have huge positive impact.

Israel would do well to convey this message by quoting the following Quranic verse describing the suffering of the Jews in Egypt thousands of years ago (Koran 28:4-5) “Truly Pharaoh elated himself in the land (of Egypt) and broke up its people into sections, depressing a small group among them (Jews): their sons he slew, but he kept alive their females: for he was indeed a maker of mischief. And we wished to be Gracious to those who were being depressed in the land (Jews), to make them leaders (in Faith) and make them the heirs.”

The message that should reach the Egyptians now is that Jews do not hate them but rather wish them success in their struggle for freedom.

Switching support to the protestors after the inevitable end of Mubarak will be perceived as hypocritical. Doing this now could however be perceived as genuine, opening open a new era of mutually respectful dialogue with the Egyptian people.

Israel must seize this historical opportunity.

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