The great thing about this Newsweek article is that it is unapologetic in letting us know that all that really matters with the Arab Spring is Israel. Whenever you hear the Israel Lobby and all their media watch groups (like CAMERA) complain about the anti-Israel press, just keep in mind that they know damn well the media isn’t anti-Israel but their complaints about anti-israel bias are a method of ensuring that doesn’t change.
So, this week’s Newsweek featured an article by Dan Ephron. Here is an excerpt, but definitely go read the whole thing:
At first glance, Amr Moussa would seem to have scant hope of winning Egypt’s upcoming presidential election—the first truly free contest in modern history for that position. There’s no shortage of candidates to lead the country, and none of them is more closely identified with the hated dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak than Moussa.
What’s his secret? Many people admire the 74-year-old’s dignified bearing and his smoky baritone, but that’s only part of the explanation. What his supporters love most is his long and vocal history of anti-Israel diatribes. Speaking with NEWSWEEK at his Arab League office looking out on Tahrir Square, he made no secret of his anger against Israel. “The peace process has become a dirty word, because we discovered it was just [an Israeli] trick to continue talking and make the cameras flash … but there’s no substance. We shall not engage in such a thing anymore. Never.”
Israel has been a theme in much of Moussa’s professional life. A career diplomat, he was a protégé of Egypt’s foreign minister in the 1970s, Ismail Fahmy. When President Anwar Sadat made his historic visit to Jerusalem in 1977, Fahmy resigned his post, arguing that the overture would cost Egypt its leadership position in the Arab world. Moussa, 41 at the time, broke with Fahmy and eventually joined the team that helped draft the peace treaty between the two countries.
Nagui El-Ghatrifi, who served as Moussa’s spokesman for four years at the Foreign Ministry, says his former boss’s anger at Israel is genuine. Still, Moussa seems keenly aware of the public’s response to his outbursts. In a Pew Research Center poll published this April, two months after the revolution, 54 percent of Egyptians favored annulling the peace agreement with Israel, versus 36 percent who wanted to maintain it. (The rest were undecided.) A Western diplomat who got to know Moussa while serving in the region puts it bluntly: “The source of his popularity is almost entirely derived from his image as an Arab nationalist who’s very critical of Israel.”
Even so, Moussa rules out the idea of abolishing the treaty. “I will tell you two things: No. 1, that the treaty, we’re not going to abrogate it. And No. 2 … We want to rebuild the country, and rebuilding the country by necessity [means] not to follow an adventurous policy.”
Apart from his longstanding dislike of Israel, Moussa’s political record is ambiguous at best. He insists that he often criticized the regime he served—so much so that he and Mubarak had a falling-out. “Relations between us became very tense, even personally,” says Moussa. Yet it’s hard to find evidence of any efforts at serious reform. In a television interview just a year ago, he vowed to support Mubarak: “As long as President Mubarak will run for election—and I know him well, and I know how he runs things, and so on—I’ll vote for him,” he said.
If you read the whole article very closely and also read between the lines, Ephron is equating criticism of Israel and the peace process as tantamount to hatred of Israel. This is the usual canard tossed at anyone who tries to change the status quo or evidences independent thinking with respect to the peace process. Notice that Ephron concedes that Moussa has no intention of abrogating the peace treaty with Israel- thus, it’s hard to see why Ephron plays up how bad Moussa is for Israel, other than the reality that Moussa, like almost any future Egyptian leader, will have to be more receptive to the desires of the Egyptian people. Also notice Ephron doesn’t go into why Moussa and many Egyptians are so frustrated and hostile to Israeli policies- providing that sort of context would provide more balance to the article. For example, are the Egyptian people perhaps resentful of the role that the U.S. and Israel played in keeping their former dictator President, Hosni Mubarak, in power? Are they resentful that rather than playing a constructive role in the peace process, Mubarak simply helped Israel and the U.S. maintain the status quo and entrench the Occupation?
In other words, what is perceived as dangerous to the U.S. and Israel is that Egypt might take it’s rightful place as major Middle Eastern power- a country that will use it’s substantial political weight and geographic reality (it’s borders are important for Israel’s security) to push Israel towards making some real concessions for peace.
But most importantly, this article demonstrates how Israel is really behind almost every aspect of our foreign policy in the region. Israel and the U.S. are nervous about the Arab Spring because they know there will very likely be a backlash against the U.S. for it’s unquestioning support of Israeli policies and our willingness to support dictators and despots.
That is why it’s essential for the Obama administration to start thinking outside the box and stop blindly pandering to Israel when it comes to policies which threaten not only the two state solution, but also U.S. security. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is too weak, or too afraid, to make the necessary changes to its foreign policy.
I think that part of the reason is that Washington politicians and insiders cling to the status quo- the people advising President Obama and Secretary Clinton are people who have been championing our disastrous policies in the Middle East for decades. Look at Dennis Ross- he has been in charge of Mideast Peace negotiations under several Presidents, both Democrat and Republican and he has not only failed but he has actually helped Israel entrench settlements in Occupied Territory so as to make a two state solution almost impossible. And who does Obama bring on board to be in charge of Mideast negotiations in his administration? None other than Dennis Ross.
The same thing goes for the State Dept. You can’t get a significant policy-making post there unless your pro-Israel bona fides are tried and true. Everything is viewed through the lens of Israel. The Arabists were purged from the State Dept. during Bill Clinton’s administration and they were replaced with people that AIPAC, the AJC and the ADL approved of. Hence, our policies never change.