Israel: An Enemy or a Friend?
By: Moomen – Alexandria, Egypt
Among Egyptians you can find three different views regarding Israel.
One considers Israel as an enemy and defines Israel as “The Zionist Enemy” or “The Rapist Entity” and wishes that a Jihad against Israel be announced until Israel is totally wiped off the map.
Another view considers Israel as a friend that must be learned from. Israel is considered to be a European branch in the area that could contribute much to Egypt’s prosperity and future.
The third view prefers to have nothing to do with Israel. This view suggests that the sides keep good relations as neighbors – but nothing more. This view does not encourage Normalization of the relationship with Israel nor does it subscribe to Anti- Israel rhetoric.
I would like to suggest a fourth view.
Why is Israel perceived as an enemy of Egypt? What could be the reason for the mutual hostility between the two states? What is the threat that Israel presents to Egypt exactly? What is more important for Egypt’s national security – a united Sudan or a united Palestine? Can Israel occupy Egypt? Is Israel hostile towards Egypt or Egypt’s allies?
Egyptians have a schizophrenic attitude towards Israel. On the one hand, any Egyptian that even says “Good Morning” to an Israeli is accused of being a “collaborator” or a “Heretic” who will be punished by Allah. On the other hand, the majority of Egyptians do not want another war because they know the price (my grandmother’s youngest son was killed in the 1973 war).
Egypt wants to catch two birds with one stone; that approach may be acceptable on the popular level but not on a governmental level. Israel is our neighbor and not a lonesome Island in the Pacific Ocean. The relations between states are not a love affair. They are rather based on mutual interests. Egypt wants to enjoy the technological fruits that Israel can offer and also expects that Israel will open the doors of the USA to Egypt. Yet, Egypt should remind itself that the keys are in Tel Aviv, not in Washington D.C.
Unlike the Arab states that plan on a day to day basis, Israel is looking and planning 50 years ahead. Israel knows Syria will sign a Peace Agreement at some point, Israel knows the Palestinian issue will be solved and that the Arab world will formally recognize Israel and Israeli Arab cooperation will be open and formal.
What is Israel’s interest? In my view Israel does not want to see a strong Egypt. At the most, Israel would be willing to see a stable Egypt. Israel knows that Egypt is the only regional factor that can compete with Israel since Egypt has the resources needed for such a competition.
Therefore, in my view we should look at Israel not as an enemy or a friend but rather as a competitor. We should plan our moves and our position in the new Middle East accordingly; taking into consideration that all Arab states will have a formal and full relationship with Israel.
What should we do? Should we stand on the sidelines and look at the events? Should we accept Israel’s role and position in the region the same way we accept the Arab States? Or should we keep on chanting the old songs from the days of Naser – “We The Revolutionary Arabs”?
About the author:
The author is an Egyptian Liberal called Moomen. He is in his mid 40’s and lives in Alexandria. He is part of a group of Liberal Egyptians that counter Political Islam and Radical Islamic groups. Moomen emphasizes the Egyptian heritage as the main characteristic of Egyptian identity even before Arab culture and Muslim religion.
I met Moomen as I was developing feenjan.com and I am honored to be in an ongoing and evolving dialogue with him. I find our conversations intriguing and meaningful and I’m thankful for the opportunity I’m given. As part of our dialogue, I have published an article on feenjan.com about religious groups and fundamentalism in Israeli society.
Comments on Moomen’s article or questions are welcome.
Feenjan.com is a personal, non-profit initiative that I created to reach out to the Arab world about Israel and it is a platform for opening a dialogue and building relationships between Arabs and Israelis around issues of mutual interest. If there is a topic that you would like me to cover please contact me through www.feenjan.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.