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Arabs Believe Israel Just Attacked Egypt
by James Dunnigan
August 19, 2012

Egyptian media, and Arab media in general, are pushing the theory that the recent Islamic terrorist attack on an Egyptian border post was somehow staged by Israel. There is no evidence and senior government officials, who might have to face Western officials or journalists, avoid this story with the Westerners. But this sort of thing has long been popular in the Arab world. Not just the automatic accusations against Israel but shifting blame for a failure in an Arab nation to some evil foreign conspiracy. This technique is heavily used by Islamic radicals, who preach that good Moslems cannot be wrong and all their troubles are caused by evil infidels (non-Moslems).

Egypt has admitted that Israeli intelligence did warn that there might be a major attack and ignored it. Egyptian intelligence officials said they could not believe that fellow Moslems would attack other Moslems who were having the post-fast Ramadan meal.

To placate Islamic conservative political parties, Egypt had reduced restrictions on Islamic terrorists operating in Gaza and made it possible for them to travel more freely between Gaza and Egypt. Facing reality, those policies have now been reversed. Ignoring the threat of terrorism is one thing, not responding to the violence and death is another. However, Israeli diplomats who have served in Egypt believe that after a few weeks or months of activity, the tighter security in Sinai and Gaza will be loosened and the Islamic terrorists will again be able to move freely. Decades of anti-Israeli propaganda and support for Palestinian terrorism have created a fundamental belief in Egypt that ultimately the Islamic terrorists will only attack Israel. This has never been the case, but this sort of selective amnesia has long been a problem in Egypt and the Arab world in general. Further complicating the situation are the Islamic conservative political parties in Egypt, who control about a quarter of the seats in parliament. These are the most fervent believers in the anti-foreigner conspiracies and that religion alone will solve all of Egypt's problems. Most Egyptians do not believe this but the Islamic conservatives can be violent and there is no general desire for another civil war against them, as happened in the 1990s (after an outbreak of Islamic terrorism against Egyptian targets).

There has been growing violence in the Sinai for the last few years, as Egyptian police and soldiers sought to shut down Bedouin smuggling gangs. This caused many Bedouin to, in effect, rebel. Attacks on Egyptian government officials and truck traffic moving through the area (much of it headed for Israel) are much more common now. Israel faces a similar problem in the West Bank and Gaza, where terrorist groups are allowed, by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, to operate. The terror groups there only get into trouble if they attack the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas tolerate constant Israeli raids against the terrorists (which the Palestinian officials also see as unpredictable and dangerous). Palestinian public opinion supports the terrorism, even though the Israelis have defeated the ability of the terrorists to make attacks inside Israel. This self-destructive attitude by the Palestinians, who, officially, are seeking a peace deal with Israel, has been created by decades of anti-Israel propaganda within the Palestinian community (in the mass media and the schools). The propaganda insists that Israel has no right to exist and all Israeli territory is actually part of Palestine. This angle is constantly stressed in Palestinian electronic and print media. Many of these attitudes are popular in Egypt and just as self-destructive.

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