By Shoshana Bryen ~
Last week, the White House pulled the props out from under the military government in Cairo, calling for it to yield power. Now. “The United States strongly believes that the new Egyptian government must be empowered with real authority immediately…we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible,” said the statement.
It is worth asking just what those “legitimate aspirations” are and what sort of Egyptian government will be able to respond to them.
In the heady days of January, much was made of the absence of anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-Semitic signs and slogans in Tahrir Square. Young Egyptians, including Internet activist Wael Ghonim, were demanding political and economic rights and an end to corruption. The revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak didn’t have to threaten Israel, said the pundits.
Even then however, the estimable Lee Smith explained why moderate Egyptians, people who perhaps had done business with Israelis or visited the Jewish state, could still believe Israel was responsible for the repression they suffered under Mubarak. The rationale: The United States supplied the money, political and military support to keep Mubarak in power. The largesse was at the behest of Israel because Mubarak kept the peace. The stability Israel wanted was purchased by the U.S. from Mubarak, but the real price – in repression, corruption, intimidation and poverty – was paid by the citizens of Egypt.
That would be a rational way of understanding why the Egyptian revolution might be hostile to Israel. Another reason would be that Egypt’s second revolution is being driven by the Muslim Brotherhood – people who hate Jews for religious and political reasons.
Eldad Beck of YNet News reported on Friday’s Muslim Brotherhood rally after the weekly mosque service, where people promoted the “battle against Jerusalem’s Judaization.” True, Beck noted, many worshippers left after prayers and before the rally, but those who remained heard Egyptian and Palestinian speakers who “delivered impassioned, hateful speeches against Israel, slamming the ‘Zionist occupiers’ and the ‘treacherous Jews.’” Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb used the old anti-Semitic canard, “Jews everywhere in the world are seeking to prevent Islamic and Egyptian unity.” Beck reported that “Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen, as well as Palestinian guest speakers, made explicit calls for Jihad and for liberating the whole of Palestine. Time and again, a Koran quote vowing that ‘one day we shall kill all the Jews’ was uttered at the site… (while) activists chanted: ‘Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, judgment day has come.’”
It is the Brotherhood that stands to win the plurality, if not the majority, of seats in the upcoming Egyptian election.
It is hard to imagine how replacing the Egyptian military council – with all its faults and problems – with the Muslim Brotherhood – with its warmongering and old-line anti-Semitism – will benefit the people of Egypt, no matter how they vote. And it is hard to imagine why the White House would encourage that to happen.
Shoshana Bryen has more than 30 years’ experience as a defense policy analyst and has been taking American military officers and defense professionals to Israel since 1982 and to Jordan since 2002. She was previously executive director and then senior director for security policy at JINSA.