Bye, Bye Bibi and Hosni, the Bobbsey Twins of stolen elections: Peace and Democracy Coming to Middle East

            The violence in Egypt is the result of decades of autocratic military rule, the most recent example of which was the legislative elections where not a single opposition candidate ;managed to win.  Amid rumors that Hosni Mubarek was preparing to pass the presidency on to his son, the Egyptian people had obviously reached the breaking point.


            More significantly, the Egyptian government has followed really unpopular foreign policies over the past three decades.  Middle East politics is actually easy to understand.  There are three historic powerhouses that compete with each other for dominance of the Arab world: Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia.


            Beginning with the peace treaty with Israel, Egypt has consistently sided with the US and the west, first in supporting the first Gulf War against Iraq, then in standing by and even assisting Israel in its attacks on and blockade of Gaza. In fact, it was Saddam Hussein’s lie to Mubarak about Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait the prompted the Egyptian to join the US coalition. Egypt has been trying to lead the Arab world toward independence, peace and accommodation with Israel since the 1950’s; but the Israelis will have none of it, and that is one of the reasons for the current rebellion in Cairo.  In order to justify Egypt’s tilt toward the west, progress toward Palestinian statehood and independence, where Egypt is a major mediator, is a must.


            Enter the Israelis whose dominant foreign policy program is to screw its friends, which is why it doesn’t have any.  The lack of progress in the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a humiliation for the Egyptians, the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel.


            Israel’s hard headed attitude is undermining its friends in the Arab world and strengthening its enemies.  It even went out of its way to insult the Turks, and then killed nine of its citizens who were on a humanitarian voyage to break the siege of Gaza.  Good work, Bibi. So, one would have to conclude that inciting hostility is deliberate policy.  Israel has no interest in peace, because peace means Israel will have to give up land.


            Israel now has a government, installed after losing the election through the good offices of President Schlemiel Peres, who has been in power in Israel for 60 years (yes, Israel is the only “democracy” in the world where someone can stick around for six decades) where neither the Prime Minister nor the Foreign Minister were in Israel during the two wars: 1956 and 1967, when Israel attacked Egypt.


          It is important to understand the history of Egyptian-Israeli relations. During the 1948 war Egypt was ruled by King Farouk.  Gamal Abdel Nasser, a colonel in the army, came to power in a coup supported by the CIA.  Israel’s prime minister, Moshe Sharett, was a dove and engaged in productive negotiations with the Egyptians in the mid-1950’s when the Lavon Affair rocked the Israeli government.  Worried about the British pullout from Egypt, a special Israeli unit 101 engaged in sabotage in Egypt, setting bombs and starting fires, in an attempt to get the British to reverse course and remain in Egypt.  This special unit, allegedly operated without the knowledge of the prime minister and was a rogue security operation.


         The perpetrators of the sabotage were apprehended and some, who were Egyptian jews, were executed.  This brought the rightists back to power in Israel in the form of David Ben Gurion, who eschewed the diplomatic route and engaged in a cabal (the protocol of Sèvres, Peres was Defense Minister) with the French and British to invade Egypt; the British and French to topple Nasser and restore their control of the Suez Canal, the Israelis to seize the lebensraum it so desperately desired.


            After Israel’s lightning victory, conquering Sinai in six days during the Suez war, the first words out of Ben Gurion’s mouth were: “The army did not make an effort to occupy enemy territory in Egypt proper.” [Italics, mine.]  Three days later, Ben Gurion told parliament, “One of the main objectives of the offensive against Egypt was the liberation of ‘homeland’ territory occupied by the Egyptian.”


            So, on what basis did Israel claim Sinai as part of the Jewish homeland?  The book of Genesis: “The lord made a covenant with Abram, saying unto thy seed have I given this land FROM THE RIVER OF EGYPT UNTO THE GREAT RIVER, THE RIVER EUPHRATES.” In other words, some Israelis and Jews think God gave the land from the Nile to the Euphrates River in Iraq to the Jews.  And they really believe it. This is the root of the Arab – Israeli conflict.


            Subsequently, Ben Gurion declared that Israel would not permit the return of the Egyptians to Gaza, and cast doubt on their willingness to evacuate the islands of Jez Tiran and Sinafir, which belongs to the Saudis but were administered by the Egyptians.


            Israel was forced to withdrawn under pressure from the United States, but they dragged their feet so they could map Sinai and secrete provisions in anticipation of their return eleven years later.


            In the 1967 war, though, in addition to seizing Sinai, Israel took the West Bank and Jerusalem.  Long story short, after the six day war Israel agreed to return Sinai in exchange for peace with Egypt and to permanently annex Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank.


            President George H. W. Bush fashioned a coalition with the Arabs in 1991 to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in exchange for a promise to pressure Israel to make peace with the Palestinians.  That is the genesis of the Oslo Peace process.  But Israel has never been serious about living within the borders allotted to it by the United Nations resolutions of 1948, and has never been serious about an Israel without Jerusalem as its capital under its sovereignty. 


            The current government of Israel, which lost the elections two years ago but seized power much the same way George W. Bush installed himself in the White House after losing to Al Gore, is headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, who was living in Pennsylvania during the 1956 Suez War and in Massachusetts during the 1967 six day war, and a foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who was living in Moldova.  No wonder the Israeli government made all the wrong moves that undermined Egypt.


            Now the Israeli government is trying to make everyone think that democracy in Egypt is equivalent to Islamic rule in Iran.  However, Egypt is a conservative culture with an ancient civilization: the Pharohs and pyramids, great antiquities and one of the cradles of human civilization long antedating Islam.  They are a great nation and a great people who have been invaded and humiliated by the west and its surrogates for the past two hundred years.  A democratic Egypt is the best guarantor of peace and stability, provided, of course, that Israel gets serious about living in peace with its neighbors.


            The time has come for the usurpers, Bibi and Hosni, to move on.


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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf