In one of the clearest signs yet that the “Arab Spring” in post-Mubarak Egypt heralds a resurgent Islamic supremacism rather than a flowering of Western-style pluralism and democracy, Egyptian officials announced Wednesday that they were reopening the Rafah crossing this Saturday.
The Rafah crossing is the only official point of entry into Gaza other than from inside Israel. Egypt closed it for good in 2007 after Hamas took power in Gaza, as part of its uneasy observance of the Camp David Accords maintaining peace with Israel. The Rafah crossing had been an easy route into Israel for jihadis and their weapons suppliers who, for obvious reasons, wanted to avoid Israeli scrutiny.
But now it appears that peace with Israel is no longer such a high priority; instead, the new government in Egypt appears to be more concerned with accommodating Israel’s jihadist enemies. Egyptian officials announced that the Rafah crossing was being reopened in order to “end the status of the Palestinian division and achieve national reconciliation.”
The reopening of the Rafah crossing is just the latest indication that Egypt is heading toward becoming a Sharia state that is pursuing war with Israel. Man-on-the-street interviews conducted during the uprising against Mubarak more than once found ordinary Egyptians explaining to clueless and incredulous reporters from the likes of CNN that one of their principal beefs with Mubarak was that he maintained peace with Israel. “He is supporting Israel. Israel is our enemy,” protesters explained to the journalists who had come out looking for ringing declarations of love for democracy and pluralism. Instead, they heard that “if people are free in Egypt…they gonna destroy Israel.” Many of the demonstrators carried posters of Mubarak defaced with a Star of David drawn on his forehead.
In January, Mohamed Ghanem, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, said in an interview on Iran’s Al-Alam television station that Egypt should prepare to go to war with Israel. That same month, Iran’s Press TV interviewed an Egyptian international lawyer Marwan al-Ashaal. Al-Ashaal explained the popular discontent with Mubarak as a direct consequence of his keeping the peace with Israel: “Currently the Egyptians demand a new rule for the country, a new government, a new leader. The American-Egyptian relationships were based on Israeli security and I think Mubarak has been very dedicated to Israeli security more even than to his own people’s security or the national interests.” Al-Ashaal asserted that “we see the deals with Israel that provoked people and took them to the edge.” And he declared that Egypt is “never going to be a friend of Israel.”
Then there was the delirious welcome accorded the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual father, the Egyptian Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. In February one of the biggest and most enthusiastic crowds of the entire Egyptian revolution thronged to Cairo’s Tahrir Square to hear Qaradawi, who outdoes even the most Hitlerian Islamic clerics in his Jew-hatred and bloodlust. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone welcomed Qaradawi to the city in 2004 and praised him repeatedly; during that visit Qaradawi explained to the BBC that suicide attacks against Israelis did not actually constitute suicide at all, but rather “martyrdom in the name of God.” In January 2009, during a Friday sermon broadcast on Al Jazeera, he prayed that Allah would kill all the Jews: “Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.” He also declared: “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the people [Jews] who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler.”
That is the man who, by the record of the welcome Egyptians gave him in Tahrir Square that day, best embodies the spirit of the “Arab Spring.”
And so last week the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi was much more perspicacious than Western analysts when he predicted that the “Arab Spring” would lead to the destruction of Israel. For every day brings new advances toward power in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic supremacist groups allied with it. Once they finally attain that power, there is no indication whatsoever that they have any inclination to keep the peace with Israel that has prevailed, however uneasily, for the last thirty years; indeed, there is abundant indication to the contrary.
The Rafah crossing is just the beginning. Watch for more belligerence from Egypt toward Israel, and more Egyptian moves that redound to the benefit of Hamas. After all, Hamas styles itself in its charter as the Muslim Brotherhood for Palestine; why wouldn’t its sister organization in Egypt be interested in lending it a helping hand? And as it does so, it inches the Middle East and the world ever closer to the inevitable conflagration.
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