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Upping the Ante in Egypt: Israel Labeled a “Racist State”

The situation continues to deteriorate in post-Arab Spring Egypt. We’ve previously charted the alarming rise of Egyptian-Israeli tensions since the overthrow of Mubarak, and noted that most Egyptians want to annul their country’s peace treaty with the Jewish state. Now comes this:

A leading Islamist candidate in Egypt’s presidential election has branded Israel a “racist state” and said a shared 1979 peace treaty was “a national security threat” that should be revised.

He also denounced al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden’s assassination by US special forces as an act of “state terrorism,” in a late Saturday Egyptian television interview.

Abul Fotouh, a front runner in the May 23-24 election according to polls, had earlier described Israel as an “enemy” in a televised debate with his main contender, former foreign minister and Arab League chief Amr Moussa.

In Saturday’s interview with the private Egyptian CBC satellite station, he said he had opposed the treaty since its implementation. “I still view the peace treaty as a national security threat to Egypt, and it must be revised.”

This could be a little less bad than it looks. “Revised” is not the same thing as “abolished.” It’s possible that some tweaks could turn the treaty into something that Egyptian Islamists would accept.  If so, that would be a considerable advance toward Israel’s long term goal of a durable and sustainable peace with its neighbors.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict gets all the attention, often with little effect. Perhaps it’s time to start worrying instead about the brewing Israeli-Egyptian conflict–before it’s too late. At Via Meadia we hope the State Department is on top of what could be a very important question: how, exactly, could the treaty be revised so that the new government can accept it — and can a set of revisions be worked out that both Egyptians and Israelis can live with?

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  • Kris

    “how, exactly, could the treaty be revised”?

    Simple: Egypt would be required to be x% less peaceful, and in return, Israel would get x% of the Sinai back.

  • WigWag

    Or even better, Israel could retake the Sinai. Then they can make it bloom as they did with the Negev (Sinai and the Negev are really the same desert). Perhaps after that they can offer a piece of it as a home to the Copts who are really going to be up the creek without a paddle if Fotouh is elected.

    The United States should simply stop the subsidies to the Egyptians and the Pslestinians. If the Egyptians and Palestinians think Allah is the answer; that’s fine. Let the deity provide the subsidized bread that they depend on.

  • PetraMB

    May I remind everyone that it is considered progressive to label Israel racist; indeed, it was President Carter with his “Apartheid” screed who can take much credit for this development.

    However, I’m surprised to see that Professor Mead is so willing to think about how to please the Islamists. He will be a very busy man if he starts down this road…

    Furthermore, revising the treaty obviously means that land-for-peace is dead, because if those who got the land can say whenever it suits them that they don’t want peace anymore, it’s truly a bad deal…

    On the other hand, I could imagine some revisions I’d rather like: let Egypt again take control of Gaza, and perhaps even Jordan of much of the West Bank (with land swaps, demilitarization etc.) and get to some long neglected issues, e.g. compensation for the losses of Jewish refugees, whose real estate assets left behind in Arab countries come to about 2-3 times the size of Israel in its 1967 borders.

  • John Burke

    If Israel feels if can accept this or that “revision,” who am I to complain. I very much doubt that will happen, though. Meanwhile, the US should make if absolutely clear to the Egyptians that the day they reject the treaty uniaterally is one day later than the last day they will receive a nickel from the US Treasury. Let’s face it. We’ve been paying Egypt for 40 years to maintain peace in the region, not to disturb it. No peace, no money.

  • Cunctator

    What exactly are the “tweaks” that you are referring to that would make the treaty more acceptable to the Islamists? My guess is that there are none because the Islamists will not be appeased by anything less than a substantive re-write that would endanger Israel — and that is the Islamist intent in any event.

    I think it is high time that people come to grips with a very simple fact — there are no common interests between the West and those who self-identify as Islamists. This holds for governments in the MidEast, as well as ethnic communities residing in WEstern countries. The sooner people wake up, the better we will all be because than our policies can be grounded on reality rather than wishful thinking.

  • Walter Sobchak

    I would be more concerned if the Egyptian government were not so utterly bankrupt, and, once the islamists take control, so utterly unlikely to be able to do anything about it.

  • Roger Tucker

    Get real. If Israel isn’t a racist state, then there is no such thing as a racist state, or racism, or a racist.

  • Corlyss

    ‘Upping the Ante in Egypt: Israel Labeled a “Racist State”’

    Gee! What’s next? Smuggling serious weaponry to the suicidal morons in Gaza? Soliciting aid from Iran? Laboring for an Egyptian nuke?

  • Kris

    Roger@7: Indeed. But you very much understate the matter. Not only is Israel racist, it “embodies all of the characteristics that humanity has resoundingly rejected in the last century – settler colonialism, racism, ethnic cleansing, apartheid and genocide.” It is thus “imperative to dissolve the Jewish state of Israel. Such a state, which has no basis other than a fascistic narrative constructed out of paranoia and mythology, has no legitimacy in our world.” You would know that if you would read the work of noted dispassionate scholar Roger Tucker .

  • Marcelo

    One of the key features of an international treaty is that it is binding on all future governments of the states that signed it. “Tweaking” a treaty to make it “acceptable” to Islamists would set a terrible precedent and would signal that peace treaties signed by Israel’s neighbors are neither durable nor sustainable (which they probably aren’t, but Israel should play no part in rendering them so). Both Israel and the US should insist that Egypt respect the treaty in full or suffer the consequences, starting with the immediate cutoff of US aid.

  • Brendan Doran


    I don’t think you quite understand people deep into religion. Neither does most of our government. God is telling them to destroy the Infidels, the most despised of which are the Jews. It’s “Milk Hatred” a term coined by a Lebanonese woman to describe hate fed to Children at their mothers breast. The Dictators sat on it. Now we see the people for who they are. There’s no deal.

  • ahad ha’amoratsim

    “If Israel isn’t a racist state, then there is no such thing as a racist state, or racism, or a racist.”
    Well, there’s always Roger Tucker

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