The government of Israel is making all the right noises and appropriate statements expressing hope that the new government of Egypt will maintain the cold peace.
But we should be under no illusions. Even the greatest optimists cannot gloss over the reality that the Islamic forces of the Muslim Brotherhood seeking to control Egypt are committed to ultimately revoking the peace treaty. Their motives stem not merely from nationalist xenophobia but are deeply rooted in fanatical extremist Islamic ideology which is infinitely more intense and inflexible. Although Mubarak treated Israel like a pariah and exploited popular anti-Semitism, in comparison to these Islamic zealots, he would be considered a “liberal”.
The Moslem Brotherhood is the organization which spawned Hamas and remains adamantly committed to wiping the “Zionist entity” off the face of the map. This was reiterated last month by its leader Mohammed Badie, who called for “imposing Muslim rule throughout Palestine” and “freeing it from the filth of Zionism”.
It represents the most intolerant wing of Islam, rejecting coexistence with other religions and is renowned for persecuting and harassing Christians. The Brotherhood is not merely dedicated to imposing sharia law in Egypt but is fervently committed to achieving global conquest on behalf of Islam.
Its leaders, who during World War ll allied themselves with the Nazis, are notorious for promoting rabid anti-Semitism. The imams continuously remind their followers that Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs and deserve to be killed as enemies of the Prophet Mohammed. They have a long tradition of assassinating opponents, terrorism and suicide bombings.
However, the Moslem Brotherhood is pragmatic and politically savvy and thus disinclined to overplay its hand, initially avoiding extreme behavior which could result in a break with the US and Western countries and lead to a total meltdown of the already disintegrating Egyptian economy. They recognize that Mubarak’s ouster was principally propelled by economic factors and that if they are to retain power they must feed 80 million Egyptians.
US Administration spokesmen are burying their heads in the sand when they imply that once the Brotherhood is in control it is likely to act responsibly and provide a pluralistic environment for Egyptians. Even more absurd are the reassurances that it is undergoing a liberal transformation and committed to maintaining a democratic system of government. Similar delusionary nonsense was disseminated about Hamas when it “democratically” gained control of Gaza.
Every “elected” radical Islamic group has ultimately imposed a regime in which political opponents and other independent societal elements were marginalized. One need only observe the more “democratic” and “liberal” Erdogan Islamist regime in Turkey which, in a relatively short time, completely eradicated the reforms of Kemal Ataturk, imprisoned the former military leaders and replaced the secular military government with an Islamic authoritarian regime. The Moslem Brotherhood is far more radical than its Islamic Turkish counterpart.
The reality is that democracy cannot survive in a society dominated by Islamic extremists who brook no opposition. Indeed, much as we despise authoritarian, dictatorial and even totalitarian regimes, precedents clearly indicate that a regime ruled by Islamic fanatics is likely to be far more oppressive than a military autocracy.
Although weakened, the military did dissolve the Islamic fundamentalist dominated parliament and still represents a barrier to total Moslem Brotherhood control. But it is likely to avoid a direct confrontation unless it is confident it has public support. In this explosive environment, US pressure on the military to stand down can only serve to further undermine Western interests and lead to intensified oppression.
We should not expect newly elected President Mohamed Morsi to be a moderating influence. His recent undertakings to act on behalf of the entire Egyptian people are totally out of synch with his long standing record of support for hardline Brotherhood policies.
Just prior to the election, Morsi announced that the Koran would be the constitution of Egypt and “that this nation will enjoy blessing and revival only through the Islamic sharia. I swear for Allah and before you all that regardless of the actual text [of the constitution]… it will truly reflect the sharia”.
Morsi, who refused to accept a congratulatory call from Prime Minister Netanyahu, stated that he would honor Egypt’s existing international agreements including the peace treaty with Israel. Yet he repeatedly includes the caveat that it is necessary to re-examine the 1978 Camp David agreements and that if Israel’s leaders (who he previously referred to as “vampires” and “murderers”) did not keep their commitments to the Palestinian people, Egypt was not obliged to honor the peace treaty. Oft repeated chants expressed at his rallies included “Morsi will liberate Gaza “, “Jerusalem will become the capital of the United Arab nation” and “death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration”.
Setting aside the current “standoff” with Israel, there is every likelihood that at a future time of his choosing, like Arafat, Morsi is likely to suggest that the Prophet’s violation of the Treaty of Hudaybiya in 629 AD on the grounds that agreements with infidels and Jews need not be honored, was a historical precedent that could be applied against Israel.
Any doubt about Morsi’s outlook towards the West was clarified with his televised inaugural presidential speech which the US Government ignored. He proclaimed that “it is my duty to make all efforts” to seek the release of the “Blind Sheikh”, Egyptian Omar Abdel Rahman, who headed the terrorist group which allegedly orchestrated the assassination of Sadat, was accused of being allied with Osama Bin Laden and is now serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison for conspiring in 1993 to destroy the World Trade Center and seeking to bomb New York City landmarks.
In reporting this, the New York Times observed that Morsi had previously remarked that he suspected that unknown hidden hands might have played a role in the 9/11 World Trade Center bombings. “When you come and tell me that the plane hit the tower like a knife in butter, you are insulting us”.
Now, notwithstanding undertakings to Jewish leaders that he would not invite Morsi to the White House unless he made a public commitment to genuinely adhere to the peace treaty with Israel, Obama has announced that he will be hosting the man who will urge him to release an unrepentant major global terrorist leader.
We in Israel are on the front lines. We may enjoy relative tranquility from Egypt in the short-term due to the prevailing chaos and restraints from the military. However, Hamas now feels confident that in the event of a future clash with Israel, Egypt is likely to provide it with maximum support and may ultimately even join it in confronting us.
This means that our border with Egypt will need to be strongly secured and Israel must gird itself for an increase in terrorist attacks emanating from the Sinai Peninsula. These are likely to include missile attacks, making the relationship with Egypt extremely fragile.
The only bright side of this dismal picture is the awareness by our adversaries of incredible power of the IDF. This ultimately represents the greatest deterrent against further deterioration or escalation of assaults against us.
The writer may be contacted at [email protected]
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom