Egypt and Israel: allies?

Flag of Egypt. What happened in Egypt is a metaphor for American policy failures in the Middle East.
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Should Israel quietly ally with Egypt? The thought would seem incredible nearly sixty years ago. Egypt started a war with Israel, and lost badly. (Egypt almost lost everything by starting another war six years later.) But no megalomaniac empire builder like Jamal abd al-Nasr (“Nasser”) leads Egypt now. Today Egypt has a more sensible leader than he. But Israel must pursue such friendship “under the table,” for the same reason to pursue it at all.

Five reasons why Egypt and Israel should ally

Professor Paul Eidelberg of Bar-Ilian University contributes often to these pages. Today he sent in these five reasons why Egypt and Israel would make a good fit:

  1. Israel should inconspicuously protect Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi by any and all means (sub rosa).
  2. Israel and Egypt have a vital common interest opposed to a Palestinian state. Such a state that would extend the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood near the Jordan River and in the Sinai near Egypt.
  3. Israel must do what it can to undermine the Muslim Brotherhood, el-Sisi’s arch enemy as well as Israel’s arch-enemy.
  4. Israel should try to diminish Jew-hatred in Egypt by offering medical center and desalination facilities as well as a tourist center in Cairo.
  5. Israel and Egypt should form some sort of alliance against the MB and Hamas independently of the United States.

Let us examine each in order First, as Prof. Eidelberg observes, if Israel cooperates with Egypt, it can do so only “under the table.” Why? Six months ago President el-Sisi proposed nothing less than a reformation of Islam, like the Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther. He told a group of Islamic scholars and clerics he found something unseemly (to say the least) about 1.6 billion people following a tradition calling on them to kill every other human being in the world. But the did not say the rest of the world had an unreasonable fear. Far from it! He said Islam must reform itself, on the level of revolution!

That alone would make Muslims suspect him of breaking from the faith. But he spoke nothing less than the truth. The founding documents of Islam resound with clarion calls to murder and treason against all persons, and all societies, that do not follow Muslim precepts. El-Sisi finds that an affront to reason. He says that must change.

Perhaps most Muslims stay in the faith only because they were born into it and grew up in it. They likely never gave a moment’s thought to what its documents say. (Perhaps a large proportion of them cannot even read the documents.) They might know, in their heart, Abdel el-Sisi speaks the truth. But those who defend the old precepts will scornfully ask, cui bono? Or however one says that in Arabic. Who benefits most if Islam shifts to its roots and breaks away from killing for the sake of killing? All persons non-Muslim, of course. No more terrorism. No more targets. But of all the world’s people, the Jews benefit the most.

Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II (South Pacific) said, “You’ve got to be taught to hate.” And fundamentalist Muslims do carefully teach little Muslims to hate. They hate the Jews worse than the Nazis did. Suppose they found out the new Egypt started to cooperate with Israel? They could destroy any chance of a Muslim reformation. No doubt el-Sisi knows this. But that same reason gives Israel every motive to protect el-Sisi without letting the world know.

The enemy of my enemy…

Any Palestinian “state” would threaten the security of both Israel and Egypt. That holds truer for Gaza than for Judea-Samaria (“The West Bank”). Gaza shares a border with Egypt. Worse yet, soldiers for Hamas, who run Gaza now, have tunneled into the Sinai Peninsula under the Camp David Treaty Line between the Sinai and the Negev.

Let’s remember who Hamas is. The name Hamas stands for “Islamic Resistance Movement.” In fact Hamas has always formed yet another chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood. This same Muslim Brotherhood led several of Anwar el-Sadat’s officers to throw live grenades at him as they passed in review before him. The Muslim Brotherhood installed one of their own (Muhammad Morsi) as President of Egypt after Hosni Mubarak stepped down. Morsi started purging the Egyptian military. He broke a long-standing agreement to sell natural gas to Israel. He clearly planned to attack Israel. Maybe he thought he could succeed where al-Nasr failed in 1967.

El-Sisi, and the sensible generals still left, had other ideas. They deposed Morsi, arrested other Muslim Brotherhood members, and started bringing them to trial, Nuremberg-style.

…is my friend

IAI Lavi B-2 prototype at Muzeyon Heyl ha-Avir, Hatzerim, Israel. 2006. Maybe a friendship with Egypt would let Israel build something like this.

IAI Lavi B-2 prototype at Muzeyon Heyl ha-Avir, Hatzerim, Israel. 2006. Photo: User Bukvoed/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License

All this gives Israel good-enough reason to show friendship to Egypt, even if “under the table.” But how to make that friendship last? Eidelberg brilliantly suggests building a hospital. Everyone knows Israel has the best medicine, and the best every kind of technology, in all the Middle East. And why shouldn’t they cooperate in desalinating the waters of the Mediterranean? Four years ago this writer traveled to Israel. There an employee of the Ministry of Tourism said flatly: men will fight the next great war for water rights. For that reason, Israel neither grants nor recognizes any patent having to do with agriculture. They pioneered techniques to conserve water and reclaim land. Their ancestors made the deserts bloom where they live. They can do the same for Egypt.

On the other hand, another, more virulent group even than Hamas, the Islamic State, recently said they mean to destroy those ancient monuments in Egypt, the Sphinx and the Pyramids. The Islamic State have made themselves famous for destroying ancient ruins. They did so in Mosul (Nineveh). They threaten to do so in Palmyra. But while the Islamic State destroys their antiquities, Egypt and Israel preserve and protect theirs.

Last but most important, Israel and Egypt both need to see to their mutual interests and break from the United States. American citizens foolishly elected and re-elected a Muslim Brotherhood-friendly President. But Israel has always had a Faustian relationship with the United States. Let’s not forget the Lavi Affair. Israel once developed their own jet fighter. But American bureaucrats threatened to cut off funding if Israel started building it in quantity. They thought only of the favored defense contractor, General Dynamics of Fort Worth. But maybe now Israel could tell General Dynamics thanks, but no thanks, we don’t need to buy planes from you any more; we’ll build our own. They could, if they could secure their southwestern border with friendship and work together with the largest Arab power in the Middle East to counter Hamas and ISIS both.

For all these reasons, Israel and Egypt can and should form a quiet, but effective, friendship.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

5 Responses to Egypt and Israel: allies?

  1. Brent says:

    Thanks for sharing the article. I was particularly intrigued by your suggestions for expanded Egyptian-Israeli defense cooperation. Israel gave up a lot when the Lavi program was cancelled.

    I saw recently that there was a new book coming out on the Lavi program at year-end. Perhaps enough time has elapsed (and enough documents declassified) to revisit the ramifications of this decision with the benefits of hindsight.

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