Only intense, last minute pressure
caused Egypt to change its stance
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), following Egypts barring of Israeli cancer researchers from attending a program and workshops in Alexandria (reversed by Egypt at the eleventh hour after protest), has pointed to this being but the latest in a long series of Egyptian anti-peace, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish acts.
Israeli researchers had been barred from attending the week-long cancer program and workshops, organized by the American-based Susan G. Komen For the Cure, a breast cancer awareness and advocacy organization, only days before and despite having all necessary documentation for the trip. This Egyptian denial of entry to Israelis attending a professional meeting was the second such occurrence in less than a week, as the Egyptian Foreign Ministry also refused to grant a visa to Yossi Gordon, the head of the Association of Contractors and Builders in Israel, from coming to Egypt the previous Friday (Jacob Kanter, Egypt slams door on Israeli cancer researchers, Jerusalem Post, October 21, 2009).
Despite having concluded a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, Egypt maintains a cold, grudging relationship with Israel, contrary to the letter and spirit of the 1979 peace treaty, which called for full normalization of relations. Instead, to this day, there is virtually no Egyptian tourism to Israel, almost no Egyptians attend medical, legal or other professional conferences in Israel, while Israelis are not invite to similar conferences in Egypt. This recent, belatedly reversed, example of ostracism of Israelis is but the latest instance in a series of hostile, anti-peace, anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish actions and decisions taken by the Egyptian government which is supposed to be Israels peace partner:
· August 2009: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak rebuffs requests from President Barack Obama for urging Arab states to normalize their relations with Israel in a bid to boost confidence in the peace talks, saying further normalization can only occur after a peace settlement.
· February 2009: Egypt staged a massive 10-day military exercise in Sinai, a territory neighboring Israel and virtually demilitarized under the terms of the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement. The exercises involved large numbers of infantry, armored and artillery units as well as air force warplanes.
· February 2009: The Egyptian government suspended, for what it said were technical reasons, commercial cooperation talks with Israel and recalled from Jerusalem a commercial delegation then meeting with officials in Israel.
· May 2008: the Egyptian Culture Minister, Farouk Hosni, said at a conference held in the Egyptian legislature that that he would burn Israeli books himself if found in Egyptian libraries (Itamar Eichner, Egyptian culture minister: I would burn Israeli books myself, Yediot Ahronot, May 14, 2008). Hosni has a record of fierce anti-Israeli deeds. In the past, he accused Israel of trying to steal Egyptian culture, and he adamantly opposes any cooperation with Israel. He also opposed an initiative presented by the American Jewish Committee to establish a museum of Jewish antiquity and culture in Cairo.
· 2006: A poll found that 92 percent of Egyptians regard Israel as an enemy nation, as opposed to a mere 2 percent who regarded it as a friend. No less significantly, more than 50 per cent of Egyptians similarly regard the United States as an enemy.
· 2005: Following Israels relinquishing control of the Egypt-Gaza border to Egypt in 2005, Yuval Diskin, the head of Israels Security service, Shin Bet, indicated, The amount of weapons and explosives smuggled into the Gaza Strip from Egypt has grown drastically, by more than 300 percent If before the disengagement they smuggled in 200 to 300 rifles a month, they are now smuggling in close to 3,000.
· In May 2004, the Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court opposed film director Nabil Abdel-Alims bid to establish an Egyptian-Israeli association to promote communication between the two countries. The presiding judge declared that The Arab public does not need such false friendship.
· 2002-2003: Egyptian television produced in 2002-2003 a 40-part series, Rider Without a Horse, dramatizing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The program depicts Jews murdering a gentile child to use his blood in making of Passover matzah. The Mubarak government refused to ban the series.
· 1997: The Egyptian government permitted publication of a popular commentary on the Quran, co-written by the president of Egypts Quranic schools and an Islamic expert at Al-Azhar University, Dr. Ahmad Issa Al-Masarawi. The commentary promotes hatred of Christians and Jews and exhorts Muslims, adult and child alike, to take up arms and fight them. An Egyptian journalist Asma Nassar opined that The expected consequence of this [book] is that, in future, thousands of young children will be willing to blow themselves up [in terrorist operations] against [non-Muslims]. The commentary has since been reprinted four times and translated into several languages.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, While we are pleased that in this instance, Egypt belatedly lifted an arbitrary ban on Israeli researchers attending a professional conference in Egypt, ZOA remains deeply concerned that Egypt, a major recipient of U.S. foreign aid, has shown in a variety of ways over many years that it remains a country deeply hostile to Israel and may indeed be a leading influence in maintaining Arab world hostility to Israel. This is contrary to peace, as is so much else that is done or permitted to occur under the Mubarak regime.
This is the coldest peace one could imagine. While cold peace is better than hot war, this does not reduce the seriousness of the violations of the peace treaty by Egypt through the various anti-peace actions of recent years mentioned, including, most seriously, the prevention of any meaningful normalization of peace and reconciliation between the two societies. In fact, Egypt behind the cover of the peace treaty, is often actively stoking the fires of conflict.
The ZOA urges the Obama Administration to reconsider, in light of these events over several years, the massive $2 billion given annually in U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. In fact, Egypt received $2 billion as an inducement to sign the peace treaty, on the understanding they would fulfill all its terms, and they continue to receive $2 billion annually on this basis. Therefore, aid to Egypt should not be on autopilot. It should be contingent on Egypt adopting truly peaceful actions and policies towards Israel. We should not accept the continuing situation of a hostile, cold peace within which the Mubarak regime continues to promote hatred of Israel.