Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What does Egyptian unrest mean for Israel?

The ongoing unrest and upheaval in Egypt has been all over the news, of late. And, one of the sidebars to the story (and to some of us, the most important) has been the potential effect of all of this on Israel.

There are those who are hopeful that this turmoil could actually be a good thing for Israel. On paper, that seems like at least a possibility; most observers think that the governments of Arab nations overstate the threat, and “evil,” of Israel, as a kind of rallying cry for their people. The idea is to keep the masses so angry about Israel, that they don't really think about the larger, internal issues, about which their governments do nothing. So, the theory goes, a government created by the people, rather than by the politicians, might be more sympathetic towards Israel.

Unfortunately, an Op-Ed in the New York Times by Yossi Klein HaLevi makes all those hopes seem pretty unrealistic:

But few Israelis really believe in that hopeful outcome. Instead, the grim assumption is that it is just a matter of time before the only real opposition group in Egypt, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, takes power. Israelis fear that Egypt will go the way of Iran or Turkey, with Islamists gaining control through violence or gradual co-optation.

Either result would be the end of Israel’s most important relationship in the Arab world. The Muslim Brotherhood has long stated its opposition to peace with Israel and has pledged to revoke the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty if it comes into power. Given the strengthening of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas’s control of Gaza and the unraveling of the Turkish-Israeli alliance, an Islamist Egypt could produce the ultimate Israeli nightmare: living in a country surrounded by Iran’s allies or proxies

Nothing is certain, and therefore there is always hope. But, it's hard to think of a realistic way in which what is going on in Egypt will turn out to be a good thing for Israel.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

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