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Some believe that, even when the Islamists take over as appears all but inevitable, Egypt’s dire economic straits will force it to uphold its peace treaty with Israel so as to keep the aid spigots—particularly those of the multibillion-dollar U.S. aid—turned on. But another view, voiced by a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, is that when
the radical elements in Egypt are sitting strong in government, they will remove the “abomination”…of the Israeli flag in central Cairo…. They will be willing to pay the economic price of (rupturing) relations with Israel and the United States to promote their ideological, political, Islamist agenda—as occurs in other places like Iran.
Among the skeptics is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Against the background of the turmoil in Cairo, he told the Knesset on Wednesday:
In February of this year, I stood on this stage as millions of people flocked to the streets in Cairo. Commentators and even some friends of mine here from the opposition explained to me then that we are entering a new era of liberalism and progress that will sweep away the old world order….
When I said, despite all hopes, that it is more likely that an Islamist, anti-West, anti-liberal, anti-Israel, and anti-democratic wave will come instead, they told me I am trying to scare the public, that we are on the wrong side of history, that I do not understand the direction in which things are heading.
Things are heading somewhere, but they are going backwards, not forwards….
Israel is reacting accordingly, both building a fence along the increasingly lawless, terror-infested Sinai—nominally part of Egypt—and beefing up its forces there. The lessons—that “peace treaties” are fragile entities in the Middle East, that lands given up for “peace” become bases for terror, that Israel’s real value to the West lies in being an island of stability and progress instead of a fawning supplicant for “peace”—are not lost on most Israelis.
At an academic conference in Israel on Wednesday, Efraim Karsh said it well:
Islam remains the strongest identity framework in Egyptian society in particular, and in Arab society generally. The Arab national dictatorships that were layered over this basic Islamic identity for the past 80 years were but a thin veneer of repression. With the fall of these dictatorships, what remains is the core Islamic underpinnings of society, and these will now come to the fore. Consequently, no democratic structures, processes or values are likely to emerge in the Arab world for many generations.
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