February 11, 2008

Fitzgerald: How can Egypt explain?

The excellent Hugh Fitzgerald dissects Egypt's mask and reveals the wolf in sheep's clothing. From Fitzgerald: How can Egypt explain?

'Unclear how, if at all, Egypt can explain this' -- from this article

How, since the Camp David Accords were signed, can Egypt explain the following:

Despite its solemn commitment to end all hostile propaganda and to encourage friendly relations with Israel, how can Egypt explain the following acts, of commission, and omission, by the Egyptian government?

1) The preventing of Israeli participation in international book and film festivals in Cairo.

2) The discouragement, including repeated monitoring, and hounding directed at a few brave Egyptians, of Egyptian tourists visiting Israel.

3) The refusal to invite the Israeli ambassador to any events, and indeed the years of virtual solitary confinement of successive Israeli ambassadors, at a time when the Egyptian ambassador was lionized by Israelis, so touchingly and naively eager to make much of their "peace with Egypt."

4) The continued enthusiastic support by Egypt at the U.N., and at all of the sub-organizations of the U.N. and meetings (i.e., at Durban), for every conceivable anti-Israel resolution, of every conceivable viciousness.

5) The refusal of the Egyptian government to prevent an anti-Israel and antisemitic campaign in the Egyptian media, that at times reaches Der Stuermer-like proportions, and when repeatedly asked why it does nothing, primly replies that "it can do nothing because we have a free press" -- which "free press," however, is immediately shut down should a single word be uttered about anything that annoys Egypt's rulers, above all any discussion of Gamal Mubarak, the slick outwardly westernized son of the thick-necked and clumsy father.

6) The past efforts of Egypt, ostensibly at "peace" with Israel, and certainly not threatened by the "might" of the Sudan or of Libya, to acquire major weaponry, including secret collaboration between Egyptian and Iraqi scientists -- which collaboration ended only because of the American invasion of Iraq.

7) The continued efforts of Egypt to acquire such weaponry, and to receive tens of billions in military aid from the United States, with no explanation as to why such aid is needed, in a country that has an impoverished and ill-ruled populace.

8) The general atmosphere of a revived Islam, that might have been dampened had Egypt done what it had promised to do to encourage a different attitude toward Israel, and had a sustained campaign of "encouraging friendly relations" -- publicizing the real behavior of the Israelis (say, about that free medical care, at the highest Western level, unstintingly offered Arabs at Israeli hospitals, and so much else that is carefully suppressed by the Arab media, as they paint Israel in the darkest colors) -- which will have long-term consequences for the possibility of avoiding open warfare with Israel.

The refusal of Egypt to meet its commitment to encourage friendly relations between the people of Egypt and Israel, and the apparent unwillingness of Israel and of the United States, (that under Carter had constantly pressured Israel into accepting every one of the demands -- some of them suggested by the Americans -- of Egypt, or rather of Saint Sadat) to take note of the continued violations.

9) Despite Egypt being obligated to end all hostilities, and to encourage friendly relations with Israel, and despite the eagerness of Israel to invite and host Egypt's ruler, Mubarak has been steadfast in one thing: he has steadfastly refused even to step on the soil of Israel, save once (for the funeral of Rabin), so intent is he on making this "peace" a cold peace, a mere formality, the absence of open warfare only because Egypt, for now, like the other Arab states, has more to lose from such a war, and not because there has been any undertaking, as there was to have been, by the Egyptian government to slowly change Egyptian hearts, Egyptian minds.

10) Just as Egypt is the sly supporter, behind the coulisses, of the vicious regime in the Sudan (pretending to play the good-faith interlocutor, or even to be putting pressure on that regime, when in fact Egypt, working on behalf of the Arab League, has prevented or delayed any effective, i.e., Western, intervention in either Darfur or the southern Sudan), so Egypt is a tireless supporter of the "Palestinians" who are the shock troops in the Lesser Jihad against Israel. It has allowed thousands of tons of weapons, and of material for bomb-making, to be smuggled all the way through the Sinai, into Gaza. For some reason the Egyptian army and police, despite being given repeated evidence of such smuggling, simply can do nothing. In fact, they have no intention of doing anything more than the intermittent minimum, designed to placate not so much the Israelis, as the Americans who supply all that aid that the Egyptian government can't quite believe it can hold onto, no matter what it does. Indeed, only once in the last decades has there even been a threat to withhold a tiny amount -- some $30 million -- of that aid, and for a reason having nothing to do with Israel, but with the attempt by an Egyptian kangaroo court to railroad Said Eddin Ibrahim. And the threat, by the way, worked -- the sentence was undone.

But there has never been a threat to cut aid because Egypt's television, for example, ran a series that was based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which clearly was a violation of Egypt's commitments. Does anyone in the American government, or for that matter in the Israeli government, actually remember that Egypt had some commitments under the Camp David Accords? Can anyone, can Rice, can Bush, spell them out? No? It's easy to recall that Israel had foolishly obligated itself to hand over something tangible, which is to say the entire Sinai, with its oilfields, and its Israeli-built infrastructure, including roads, and tourist accommodations, but what about Egypt?

Oh, yes, "Peace." I almost forgot. Egypt made "peace." But did it? The Egyptian army has not attacked Israel. But the armies of Syria, of Jordan, of Saudi Arabia, of Libya and Algeria and Iraq and all the other members of the Arab League, jointly or separately, have not attacked Israel either. What does the failure of Egypt's army to make direct and open warfare on Israel tell us? It does not tell us that "the Camp David Accords are being scrupulously observed by Egypt." Not at all. It tells us only that Egypt, like every other Arab state, isn't yet ready to take on Israel directly, and as a charter member of the Slow Jihadist Group, will do what it can to keep up efforts to isolate Israel diplomatically, to weaken it economically through boycotts, and to do whatever it can to undermine the Israelis so that, little by little, the country can, over time, be undone. But meanwhile, they have pocketed $60 billion so far in American Jizyah-aid. (It is "Jizyah" because the Americans give it with a cringing attitude, as if they must, as if they are fearful of the consequences if such aid were to cease, and "Jizyah" because the Egyptians are not one whit grateful for it, but take it as by right, under Mubarak as under any conceivable successor.)

Let us remember that Israel scrupulously complied with what it undertook to do. It gave to Egypt the entire Sinai. Under customary international law, under even Resolution 242, it had no obligation to give up the entire Sinai. Under that customary international law, the successful defender of a war brought by an aggressor is not required to give up the territory that was used as the launching pad for such aggression. In May 1967 Nasser noisily declared that he would go to war against Israel. He demanded, and got, the removal of the U.N. troops in the Sinai. He blockaded the Straits of Tiran, throttling Israeli trade with Asia. He put the Egyptian army and navy and air force on a war footing, and moved troops up into the Sinai. He repeatedly and publicly described the coming war with Israel, sometimes to hysterical Cairene crowds of hundreds of thousands. Israel, by all the rules that have been observed in the aftermath to other wars -- to World War I and World War II, for example -- was perfectly entitled to hold onto some, or even all of the Sinai. And even under the "secure and defensible borders" requirement of Resolution 242, it might have made a good case for holding onto much of the Sinai (which, one needs to be reminded, only became part of Egypt in the 1920s -- it was always, before that, regarded as a corpus separatum, and the very titles of the books written by European travellers, with such titles as "Palestine and Sinai" or "Egypt and the Sinai" demonstrated this).

Now, in 2008, having ignored for nearly thirty years the long history of Egypt's systematic violation of its obligations toward Israel under the Camp David Accords, and having ignored, or not brought to the attention of Washington, Egypt's ever-compliant sugar-daddy and defender, suddenly now the questioning is not about all those other systematic violations, but about why Egypt would allow Hamas members to enter Gaza, without subjecting them to searches for either money (reputedly some were carrying vast sums) or weapons, if indeed Egypt is so interested in promoting, at least, the Slow Jihadists of Fatah rather than the Fast Jihadists of Hamas.

Perhaps it is Israel's government, or rather this one, and the one before this, and the one before that and the one before that, that should ask itself how and why they continually overlooked or failed to communicate, to its own people, to Washington, the real nature of Egypt, of its regime, and of what prompts it -- beginning with, and virtually ending with, the immutable texts of Islam.