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Even if the passage of two Iranian warships through the Suez Canal was still uncertain, it was a week that rattled Israelis’ nerves.
It began on Sunday with a stern lecture by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that got considerable play in the Israeli media. “For anyone who spent time in Tahrir Square these last three weeks,” he wrote, “one thing was very obvious: Israel was not part of this story at all. This was about Egypt and about the longing of Egyptians for the most basic human rights….”
And because Israel, in Friedman’s view, failed to enthuse over nascent Egyptian democracy and instead feared the fall of the nonbelligerent Mubarak government, Friedman found himself “more worried today about Israel’s future than I have ever been, because I think that at time of great change in this region—and we have just seen the beginnings of it—Israel today has the most out-of-touch, in-bred, unimaginative and cliché-driven cabinet it has ever had.”
Friedman, for his part, continued to enthuse in his Tuesday dispatch, writing that “Egypt has now been awakened by its youth in a unique way—not to fight Israel, or America, but in a quest for personal empowerment, dignity and freedom.”
One doesn’t know if his ardor has been cooled by the fate of his journalistic colleague Lara Logan, brutally assaulted in Tahrir Square by an anti-Mubarak mob shouting “Jew! Jew!” Material on the anti-Semitism of the “democracy protesters” had already been available, though; it clearly made little or no impression on Friedman.
Israelis, for their part, could be impressed by USA Today’s report on Wednesday that “top leaders of the protest movement that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak” are calling, among other things, “to cut off natural gas shipments to Israel.” Those shipments are supposed to be guaranteed by the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty. While flouting many other provisions of the treaty, the Mubarak government upheld that particular provision for thirty years.
But let’s not get picayune about these “youth…in a quest for personal empowerment, dignity and freedom.”
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