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As Entire World Condems Mubarak Israel Voices Support for Regime *updated*

January 31, 2011

I’ve really lost my ability to be shocked or surprised by anything Benjamin Netanyahu says or does:

Israel has called on the United States and Europe to curb their criticism of president Hosni Mubarak “in a bid to preserve stability in Egypt” and the wider Middle East, an Israeli newspaper reports.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Monday that the foreign ministry, in an urgent special cable, instructed its ambassadors to key countries, to “stress … the importance of Egypt’s stability”.

Increasingly, president Mubarak has been isolated by swift and at times harsh criticism from Western leaders who called for reform. It is unclear how angry Egyptians will interpret Israel’s apparent support for their government.

The protests in Egypt have reportedly thrown the Israeli government into turmoil, with military officials holding lengthy strategy sessions, assessing possible scenarios of a post-Mubarak Egypt.

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said on Sunday that his government is “anxiously monitoring” the political unrest in Egypt, his first comment on the crisis threatening a government that has been one of Israel’s key allies for more than 30 years.

Israeli officials have remained largely silent about the situation in Egypt, but have made clear that preserving the historic 1979 peace agreement with the biggest Arab nation is a paramount interest…


“We are anxiously monitoring what is happening in Egypt and in our region,” Netanyahu said before his cabinet’s weekly meeting on Sunday.

“Israel and Egypt have been at peace for more than three decades and our objective is to ensure that these ties be preserved. At this time, we must display responsibility, restraint and utmost prudence,” Netanyahu added.

It was the first high-level comment from Israel on the Egypt protests, which began last week with disorganised crowds demanding the resignation of Mubarak and have grown into the most significant challenge to Egypt’s autocratic regime in recent memory.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, discussed the situation in Egypt with Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, on Sunday, according to a statement from Barak’s office. No details of the discussion were released.

Hey Bibi, here’s a novel idea- stop building settlements and move forward with a REAL two state solution.

According to the Palestine Papers Bibi has spent his entire political career undermining the peace process and blaming everything on the Palestinians. Both sides are to blame. In 2002 the Arab League offered full normalization of relations with Israel in the aftermath of a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even apparently foregoing the full right of return. But nah, that wasn’t good enough because it meant no more illegal settlement expansion.

Normalized relations would its Arab neighbors would make Israel less dependent on the one or two autocracies in the region.

UPDATE: Laura Rozen reports today about a special Egypt working group/experts meeting from the foreign policy/Think Tank community with President Obama. Here’s the guest list:

George Washington University Middle East expert and Foreign Middle East channel editor Marc Lynch; the National Security Network’s Joel Rubin, a former State Department Egypt desk officer; the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Michele Dunne, a former NSC and State Department Policy Planning and Egypt embassy official who co-chair a bipartisan working group on Egypt); Council on Foreign Relations’s Egypt expert Steve Cook; the New America Foundation’s Steve Clemons; Center for American Progress Middle East expert Brian Katulis, and former U.S. Amb. to Israel Martin Indyk, now with the Brookings Institution and an advisor to George Mitchell.

Elliott Abrams, the former Bush White House Middle East/democracy advisor, was invited but didn’t go. “I had other commitments I did not think I could fairly cancel at such short notice,” Abrams told POLITICO. While another colleague tried to soften Abrams’s implication he had better things to do than offer counsel to the White House, saying he thought Abrams was out of town. In fact, Abrams said he was scheduled to speak to the AJC along with Jordanian former diplomat Marwan Muasher.

The Brookings Institution’s Robert Kagan who co-chairs the Egypt working group, wanted to go but couldn’t get a flight back from California in time to make it.

Apparently the list of attendees caused BBC Journalist Kim Ghattas to tweet “no Arabs?” Incredible, isn’t it? Not only no Egyptian Americans, but no Arabs. We just don’t really get it, do we? Do we ever even try to understand any foreign policy issue through the lens of anyone other than the US and Israel?

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Tovah permalink
    January 31, 2011 12:37 pm

    This will put some folks in the US in a tough spot ;).

    Israel is really getting out of control. It’s time for people to realize that being “pro-Israel” does not mean rubber stamping their disastrous policies. Is Israel any safer for all the settlements and inability or refusal to make concessions for peace? Of course not. Yet Congress, the administration and most of my fellow brothers and sisters in the Jewish community have a fit when Israel is pressured in the slightest. Makes no sense.

  2. Pilgrim permalink
    January 31, 2011 12:45 pm

    Stacyx, I deeply appreciate what you have here said.

    The arrogance of Netanyahu is astounding, and yet it is not without good reason that he assumes he can dictate to U.S. and Europe how they should behave.

    His attitude will be more readily tolerated by U.S. than by Europe, but even the U.S. must have a breaking point.

    The oppression by Israel, supported by U.S., of the Palestinian people makes me extremely mad.

  3. January 31, 2011 1:49 pm

    Priceless. Now, pundits in Israel are “shocked” by Pres. Obama’s “betrayal” of Mubarak.

    • rachel permalink
      January 31, 2011 2:29 pm

      I can understand Israel’s “concern” about having a government who had a peace agreement with you overthrown but this is just not right. They have a right to elect who they want to elect and if we don’t like it that’s kind of our problem. I wonder what would happen if the arab world had said look we don’t trust the U.S to elect a competent leader we gave you a chance and you elected bush twice so from here on out I think we need to decide who runs your government for the stabilty of our region and yours.

      • January 31, 2011 2:44 pm

        I understand their concern too. But it’s pretty incredible that Bibi would go this public about it. If Mubarak falls, the Egyptian people aren’t going to be too pleased that Israel did everything in it’s power to prevent it. What’s going on in the streets has nothing to do with Israel and Bibi should try really, really hard not to make it about Israel.

        And again, Israel would have much less reason for concern if they had agreed to 1967 borders for a Palestinian state because they’d probably have more Arab allies in the region.

        It’s time for Israel to stop tilting at windmills and realize that there is a reason that it always seems to have to stand alone on so many issues (of course we run over to stand with them too 99.999% of the time). There are actually things Israel can DO to improve its situation in the region.

        • Pilgrim permalink
          February 1, 2011 4:28 pm

          Amen. (But they probably won’t. They’ll probably continue with truculence.)

  4. discourseincsharpminor permalink
    January 31, 2011 3:05 pm

    After all that Netanyahu has done without so much as a raised eyebrow from anyone, I’m little concerned where we’ve drawn the line with Israel. I’m not surprised by this, but I wonder how far we’re going to take this coddling.

    Our Super Duper Egypt Team has no Egyptians or Arabs on it? Brilliant. Whose idea was that?

  5. Thain permalink
    January 31, 2011 5:48 pm

    As we speak members of Congress are talking to Bibi on the phone saying “what is thy bidding my Master?”

    Yet another example of Israel being a strategic liability to the US. Could Bibi make it any more obvious that he doesn’t give a damn about the millions of Arabs in the region? Maybe if he pretended to give a damn he could make peace with them?

    Stacy’s right if Bibi keeps speaking out and making it about Israel instead of the legitimate interests of the Egyptian people then there may be an increase in anti-Israel sentiment. You know, ’cause Israel’s basically saying “we want Egypt to oppress their people because it’s good for Israel.”

    Great message Bibi, really.

  6. AhmedMuntasavi permalink
    January 31, 2011 6:02 pm

    Thank you stacy for noticing what others don’t notice. With a large Egyptian-American population and with some pan-Arab organization in the US your President couldn’t find one person that sees things through the eyes of an Arab.

  7. February 1, 2011 8:27 am

    Alan Dershowitz over at the HuffPo carries the Israel Lobby’s water on this one. He’s heard his marching orders from Bibi. The condescension towards Arabs is disgusting:

    Notice how Dershowitz totally discounts what is important to tens of millions of Egyptians? What’s a little oppression so long as Israel can keep it’s boot on the neck of the Palestinians without any pressure? Torturing, oppressive dictatorships are ok to pretend liberals like Dershowitz so long as they fall in line with the Israel Lobby’s foreign policy.

    • Steve permalink
      February 1, 2011 10:05 am

      Dershowitz is an embarrassment.

      I’m sick of hearing people say “well the liberal Alan Dershowitz says…” Dersh stopped voting for dems a while ago by his own admission and and became a hard core, pro-torture, Zionist hawk and about the only thing he’s liberal about is the idea that people should be able to have sex with whom they want- something that I am sure he used to help justify his many affairs with his female students over the years as a Harvard Law professor.

      Anyone who takes Dersh seriously on anything having to do with foreign policy is confused.

  8. moi permalink
    February 2, 2011 10:13 am

    How now brown cow?

    Here’s another, different, opinion:

    This article and the comments to it are based on a distorted perception of reality by people that do not live anywhere near those parts of the world and have studied the full complexity of the matters at hand as much as I’ve studied milking cows.

    Your good intentions are somebody else’s hell. I don’t see why anybody should suffer hell because you mean well.

    Here’s a common scenario that has been record “now and then” in our human history: Opinion A this is the best thing that could ever. Opinion B no this is the best thing that could ever happen. End result massive scale slaughter.

    My advice be more careful the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  9. moi permalink
    February 2, 2011 10:18 am

    What do all activists have in common? Change the circumstances a tiny bit and they would all wear brown shirts.

    • February 2, 2011 10:34 am

      Moi- I really don’t know how to respond to your comments because they are so vague and over-generalized, but I’ll try. Many informed Middle East scholars, including those living in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East, understand that propping up a corrupt dictator under the current circumstances can do more harm than good. It is simply not sustainable to believe that the US can actually run on the motto “we support democracy except when we don’t like the results.”

      Here’s a thought- had the US and Israel not been held hostage to our/their own domestic politics for two decades we might have a two state solution already and Israel could have normalized relations with some of her Arab neighbors as the Arab League said (in 2003) would happen upon a just resolution of the crisis. Then the US and Israel might not be so dependent on a hand-full of dictators and royal bullies to “stabilize” the region (ie. maintain the unsustainable status quo in return for huge amounts of money and weapons.) Go read the Palestine Papers.

      The fact is, the US can’t dictate events in the middle east. Our policies have largely failed and this is the end result. It’s time we start to adjust to this changing reality while also realizing that the choice is not always between brutal dictatorships vs. Israel-hating Jihadists.

      Democracy is messy but it’s what the U.S. stands for and maybe now we will start to have a much more pragmatic, realist policy towards the Middle East.

  10. moi permalink
    February 2, 2011 11:15 am

    Great theory really!

    I mean hey it seems to be backed by many informed Middle Eastern scholars some of which actually dwell in Egypt. Who needs to think for himself with such minds at hand.

    Yet late reports indicate that anti Mubarak supporters are clashing in the streets with pro Mubarak supporters.

    But that’s all right you and the great scholars already know how all of this will turn out. Just like you did back in 1979. So what’s a little bit of blood, especially when it’s not your own blood.

    I wonder who informed these scholars and why wasn’t I in the loop

    • February 2, 2011 11:31 am

      Moi- why don’t you just come out and say what it is you mean or what you want. Are you saying that the US should support Mubarak?

      The reason I brought up the opinion of Egyptian scholars is because it’s nice to have the perspective of people from that country, as opposed to just all Western commentators. Also, shouldn’t the opinion of the tens of millions of Egyptian people stand for something.

      The violence in the streets of Egypt is horrific but it’s a direct result of Mubarak’s thugs. The right of the protesters to assemble peacefully is being trampled upon. Are you saying the protesters should go home to avoid bloodshed? Or are you saying we shouldn’t support their efforts because Mubarak might spill blood? Right now I am trying to respect what it is the protesters want, you know, because it’s their country.

      And who the hell said or even inferred “what’s a little bit of blood, especially when it’s not your own blood”- NOBODY. Ask the Egyptian people who have spent time in Mubarak’s torture prisons about what it’s like to give “a little bit of blood.”

      But again, I don’t really know how to respond to you because I honestly don’t know what your point is, other than you seem to think the opinions expressed here are unrealistic. So make your own argument in something other than vague generalities and little quips. State your position and back it up otherwise I’m not going to waste my time trying to figure out what you mean.

      • moi permalink
        February 2, 2011 11:47 am

        I don’t want anything I’m simply pointing out your murders (well intentioned though) ways for future generations.

        So they’ll know that others before had suffered as much as they do from the general stupidity of the public.

        Bye now!

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