Thursday, March 15, 2012

Egypt is a Volcano, The West Snoozes, But Israel Won't Play the Role of Pompeii

“Interchangeable ever were the terms of abuse with which the aggressor discredits those about to be ravaged!”
--Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano

By Barry Rubin

Reality: Those who are, or will soon be, governing Egypt view themselves as being at war with Israel for all practical purposes.  It matters relatively little that there is still a peace treaty. In Cairo, there are no thoughts of peace.

This is the second biggest disaster of the “Arab Spring.” The same applies to the Egyptian government’s attitude to the United States. That is the biggest disaster.

It is a disaster that U.S. policymakers and journalists have not even begun to recognize, much less counter.

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Here’s the latest example. The Egyptian parliament voted unanimously to demand the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador and the halt of all natural gas exports to Israel. Isn't going to happen? Well, not this month. Of course, the military junta is still in control, but it won’t be by the end of June. And then the deluge begins.

The mechanics of this step are especially significant. The parliament’s Arab affairs committee issued a report that stated:

"Revolutionary Egypt will never be a friend, partner or ally of the Zionist entity (Israel), which we consider to be the number one enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation. It will deal with that entity as an enemy, and the Egyptian government is hereby called upon to review all its relations and accords with that enemy."

It’s rather difficult to be at peace with your “number one enemy” isn’t it, especially when you treat it as an enemy in all aspects of policy? And in this report and successful resolution, Israel is referred to as an “entity” and not a state thirty years after the two countries made peace and “ended” their conflict. That's the same term used by Iran, Hamas, and Hizballah.

The report also endorses Palestinian resistance "in all its kinds and forms" against Israel's "aggressive policies." That is an endorsement of terrorism and of Hamas firing rockets, missiles, and mortars from the Gaza Strip. If, for example, a Palestinian were to get inside an Israeli kindergarten and machinegun all the toddlers that would be justified in the eyes of Egypt’s new rulers. And that's no exaggeration.

In a sense, then, this is a declaration of war. Oh, it isn’t a formal war with the Egyptian military building up its forces in eastern Sinai or launching a cross-border attack. But war nonetheless.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center  and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

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