Egypt, Islamism, and a Grim Future

What are we to make of the uprising in Egypt? I am not an expert in Egyptian affairs, but a little history lesson might help here as we ponder what might happen next.

Egypt was one of the earliest enemies of the state of Israel. The wars in 1967 and 1973, in particular, were primarily between Egypt and Israel, although other Arab countries joined in. In both cases, Israel came out on top, especially in 1967 when it gained a lot more territory once the war ceased.

Anwar Sadat, who took over for the deceased Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970, made a historic decision after the 1973 war to make peace with the idea of the existence of Israel in the Middle East. This culminated in the famous Camp David Accords in 1978, where the two countries officially established diplomatic ties. That made Egypt the only Arab country to acknowledge the right of the Jews to have their own nation. This well-known photo marked a new path for Arab-Israeli relations:

Sadat’s actions made him a pariah in the Arab world. Three years later, while reviewing the military, he was assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist transnational movement and the largest political opposition party in Egypt:

Sadat’s assassination was a major blow to the Israelis and to the United States, Israel’s strongest ally.

His successor, Hosni Mubarak, has now been in power for 30 years. He rules as a strongman with a military that has been loyal to him throughout his tenure. He continued Sadat’s relationship with Israel [strained at times] and has been an ally [of sorts] of the United States, working for a peace settlement in the region. But life in Egypt is pretty bad for most of its citizens; poverty is the rule, prosperity the exception. That certainly has fueled much of the current protest.

The key to a proper analysis of the situation is knowing how much to attribute to a general outcry against Mubarak’s heavy-handed rule and how much might be the result of agitation by the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to impose Sharia law on the nation and lead Egypt into full participation in the worldwide Islamist jihad against the West.

Mubarak, without doubt, is no great leader. His goal is staying in power and enriching himself. On that basis, I find it difficult to support him. However, if he should fall, what will emerge? Will it be the Muslim Brotherhood as the ascendant power in the state? If so, that will be a disaster not only for Egypt, but for the Middle East and success in the war on terror.

Change is not always beneficial.

If Mubarak is unable to maintain his position, we have to hope that others not associated with the radicals rise to power. If the military resists radicalism, that is possible, but the trend toward the jihadists may be difficult to stop.

Even if the radicals don’t take over, any new government will probably be more antagonistic toward Israel and America. The portent for the future is grim.

The Potential for Armageddon?

So the U.N. has imposed new sanctions on Iran. Anyone else feel a yawn coming on? Can’t you see Iran trembling over this world outrage? No? Neither can I. The so-called sanctions are worse than useless: semi-tough talk with no follow-through.

An apt depiction of what sanctions will accomplish. Yet every time the “world” does this, we’re told that it’s really going to make a difference. Does anyone with any sense of reality believe this?

Iran is so frightened it has just announced it is sending a flotilla to Gaza to break the Israeli blockade. Without trying to sound alarmist, we have here a potential warmaking situation. If Israel boards those ships, Iran may declare war. Now, they may not, simply because they might instead decide to bask in the glow of the “world’s” outrage directed once again toward Israel.

There is a sense of unreality to the whole situation. Somehow, in many people’s minds, the nation that is desperately trying to remain a nation while surrounded by hate-driven enemies is pilloried while another nation that says it wants to wipe the first nation off the face of the earth is treated as legitimate. This is also the nation [Iran, in case you’re confused at this point] that recently held an election that all serious observers know was stolen by its fearless leader.

Conservatives always make comparisons with Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler during the 1930s. I don’t think the comparison is all that bad, except for this: the potential consequences now are much greater as Iran steadily moves forward in its quest to develop its own nuclear weapons. Hitler may have had such dreams, but his dreams never came this close to reality.

Are we approaching a Biblical Armageddon? Too many people in the past have declared it to be imminent, so I’m going to be more cautious. This situation, however, is potentially worse than anything the Middle East has faced in the past—and whatever transpires in the Middle East will affect us directly.

I’m not just spouting some pious phrase when I say it is time to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Hubris Personified

Let’s highlight three astounding examples of hubris today—people who believe they know everything and/or they try to remake themselves without anybody noticing. Well, it’s not working; people are noticing.

Our first example is Helen Thomas. If you haven’t heard about her fiasco, you’re probably not watching any news at all. The video of her telling Jews in Israel to “get the hell out” and go back to Poland or Germany has burned up the internet. The firestorm led to her resignation as a political commentator.

She is of Lebanese descent and has a hatred for the nation of Israel. She also once described President Bush as the worst president in American history. Well, you can have that opinion, but her manner of stating it was similar in nature to her hatred of Israel.

I’ve never understood why she was treated like royalty. Yes, I know the press has no problem with fellow liberals, but she was always beyond the pale. She had the prime seat in the White House press room and was always shown deference in all administrations. This, in spite of the fact she was, without fail, rude, argumentative, and sanctimonious. Her resignation was only about 50 years too late.

Of course, she will always have friends.

Then there’s Florida governor Charlie Crist, who renounced the Republican party and decided to run as an independent for the Florida Senate seat, thereby turning the race upside down and making it more difficult for Marco Rubio, the candidate who fairly and squarely beat Crist for the nomination [at least in the polls; Crist didn’t want to face that vote in August].

Yesterday, an alert Rubio campaign drew attention to a major change on Crist’s campaign site: his page featuring his pro-life stance had been silently removed. Now that Crist is an independent, he is trolling for Democratic votes. Consequently, he can’t be viewed as pro-life. He’s hoping to get the pro-choice Republicans and independents, plus a good number of Democrats. This is the man who says he’s running on principle. About the only principle I see here is the principle of wanting to win regardless of how many switches he has to make in what he claims to support. The man has no core.

President Obama is always good for a comment, almost on a daily basis. A couple of days ago, he was giving a speech at a high school graduation. What he said was quite fascinating.

I’ll give you the key sentences: “Don’t make excuses. Take responsibility not just for your successes, but for your failures as well. … It’s the easiest thing in the world to start looking around for someone to blame.”

Oh, like President Bush?

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.”

Is more commentary really necessary?

Further Thoughts

I’d like to add a few thoughts on some of the topics I’ve covered this week. On the whole Israel-Palestinian conflict, I believe it’s vital not to lose track of history. Hamas is a terrorist organization, devoted to the destruction of all Jews and to wiping the nation of Israel off the map. Israel, meanwhile, has always allowed Arabs to live within its borders. Some are representatives in the Israeli Knesset. Does anyone seriously believe that Hamas or any other Islamic group would offer the same privilege to Jews?

Throughout the history of this conflict, various peace plans have been offered, but always rejected by Israel’s enemies. The have their own peace plan.

Meanwhile, on the oil spill, President Obama visited the region again yesterday. As far as I can tell, nothing substantive occurred. This is the man who promised that under his administration, there would be no more Katrinas. Words flow easily from some people, but as for competence . . .

One item I haven’t mentioned yet is the furor surrounding the administration offering jobs to potential candidates for Democratic Senate seats if they will not run against incumbents. It began with Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania, who said he was offered a job not to run against Arlen Specter. He refused, ran, and won the primary.

On the heels of that controversy is another offer that came to light, as Andrew Romanoff, former Colorado Speaker of the House, was told he might have a job in the adminstration waiting for him if he wouldn’t challenge the current senator, Michael Bennet. As with Sestak, Romanoff said no.

Debate centers on whether this is an actual violation of the law. It’s one of those things that will be hard to pin on anyone because they can always say the job wasn’t absolutely “promised.” Well, we know how that works. It’s a style of politics in which president is well versed.

It’s not that this style has never appeared in the Oval Office before. It’s just that it’s so blatant. Even more remarkable, it’s been bungled so badly that incompetence is a word that could apply. That might be a ray of hope: if the administration can’t even handle its graft efficiently, perhaps it won’t be able to fool the people again in 2010 or 2012.

This Was Not a Peace Ship

There’s really no doubt now that the so-called peace ship heading to Gaza was bent on killing Israelis. The videos make it clear that the Israeli soldiers were attacked immediately upon boarding the ship for an inspection. It’s also now known that a large number of the 700 passengers were connected with Islamic jihadist groups known for terrorism. Some even had ties to Al Qaeda.

The cartoonists have caught on to the truth:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rightly defends the actions of his troops. In a statement yesterday, Netanyahu was firm in his stance on self-defense.

“Israel regrets the loss of life,” Netanyahu said, “but we will never apologize for defending ourselves.” He added, “This wasn’t a love boat. This was a hate boat.” In a comment aimed at the United Nations, he declared, “I regret to say for many in the international community, no evidence is needed. Israel is guilty until proven guilty.”

The Israeli prime minister noted that the troops had boarded five other ships prior to this one, and there was no violence reported on any of them. But on the sixth one, “They were met with a vicious mob. They were stabbed. They were clubbed. They were fired upon. The attackers had prepared their violent action in advance. . . . These weren’t pacifists. They weren’t peace activists. These were violent supporters of terrorism.”

While the U.S. hasn’t joined in a full-fledged endorsement of the U.N.’s condemnation of Israel, it hasn’t exactly distinguished itself in its support of Israel’s right of self-defense. For the first time since the presidency of Jimmy Carter—but more forthrightly—we have an administration whose natural sympathies are with those who foment the violence. Anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head in the nation that should be in the forefront of support for the Jewish state.

An Israeli Primer

A primer is a book of basics. It is intended to ensure that students grasp the essential foundations of a subject. I think we need a primer on the nature of the conflict in the Middle East over the state of Israel.

Fact #1: Israel is a self-governing entity that is a friend to the free world.

Fact #2: Israel is surrounded by enemies that want to destroy it.

Fact #3: All these enemies are Islamic believers.

Fact #4: Hamas, a terrorist group, runs the Gaza Strip.

Fact #5: Hamas wants to obliterate the state of Israel and sends thousands of rockets raining on Israel every year.

Fact #6: Israel, for its own protection, inspects ships coming to Gaza to make sure they are not carrying weapons meant to kill Israeli citizens.

Fact #7: Although these ships say they are taking humanitarian aid to a starving people, the people in Gaza are not starving at all. Yet Israel allows these ships to take this “aid” anyway.

Fact #8: Islamist extremists deliberately set up confrontations that will end in deaths/martyrdom and paint Israel as the problem.

Fact #9: Most of the rest of the world takes Islamist propaganda at face value and condemns whatever Israel does to defend itself.

Fact #10: It just happened again this week. The world fell for it again.

Palestinians Protesting Israeli Boarding of Ship

Some people still have their heads on straight over this. Carol Platt Liebau is one:

Mona Charen throws some facts into the bilious stew of press coverage on the “humanitarian” flotilla attacked by Israel.  It’s a must-read.  Of particular interest:

Upon learning of the intentions of the Gaza flotilla, the Israeli government asked the organizers to deliver their humanitarian aid first to an Israeli port where it would be inspected (for weapons) before being forwarded to Gaza. The organizers refused. “There are two possible happy endings,” a Muslim activist on board explained, “either we will reach Gaza or we will achieve martyrdom.”

No agenda there, though.  Of course not.  Nobody but Israeli bad guys in this scenario, right?  Pleeease.

What always amazes me is the speed, venom and alacrity with which the UN can step up to denounce Israel — as it sits on its hands while Iran marches ever-closer to developing nukes with which to threaten the (pro-Western) world.

Life is anything but fair for Israel, but I think they’re used to that by now.

As of this writing, the U.S. government has not condemned Israel for its actions in defending itself. Let’s pray that remains the U.S. government’s position.

Obama's Shunning of Israel

The United States has been a bulwark of support for the beleaguered nation of Israel. President Harry Truman, back in 1948, stood firm in backing the creation of the nation. Ever since, the U.S. has helped Israel stave off the attacks of hostile regimes that surround it.

All that has now changed in the Obama administration.

President Obama is so tied to a policy of cuddling up to Islam that he is doing the same thing to Israel that he did in the past to his grandmother, “Rev.” Wright, and so many others—figuratively throwing them “under the bus.”

Don’t be fooled by empty rhetoric.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to Washington for talks. In the past, such talks have always been high level and Israeli leaders have been treated with respect. No such luck for Mr. Netanyahu this time.

Apparently, President Obama was angry over an announcement that the Israelis were planning to build more apartments in Jerusalem. Never mind it was in an area where there is little dispute over who has the territory. In Obama’s mind, it was an affront to the Palestinians. I’ll let a couple of other bloggers quoted in provide some commentary on this, since they have done a fine job of summarizing what took place.

For a head of state to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of…

After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on Jewish settlements, Mr. Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr. Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisors and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman who spoke to the Prime Minister said today.

“It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House phone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”…

Obama has added more poison to a U.S.-Israeli relationship that already was at its lowest point in two decades. Tuesday night the White House refused to allow non-official photographers record the president’s meeting with Netanyahu; no statement was issued afterward. Netanyahu is being treated as if he were an unsavory Third World dictator, needed for strategic reasons but conspicuously held at arms length. That is something the rest of the world will be quick to notice and respond to. Just like the Palestinians, European governments cannot be more friendly to an Israeli leader than the United States. Would Britain have expelled a senior Israeli diplomat Tuesday because of a flap over forged passports if there were no daylight between Obama and Netanyahu? Maybe not…

Here’s the attitude I perceive, as reflected in this political cartoon:

As an evangelical Christian, I have a natural affinity for Israel: it’s the land of the Bible. I’ve visited once and hope to return to walk where Jesus walked. Yet even if that were not the case, I would be a stalwart supporter of a nation trying to survive as a friend of America in the midst of relentless enemies.

It would be nice if the American president felt the same.