Israel: Egypt Decides

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May 25, 2012: The presidential elections in Egypt show the Moslem Brotherhood candidate is ahead of the other twelve running for president. There will be a second round and the "moderate" Islamic Moslem Brotherhood candidate is again favored. While "destroy Israel" propaganda was allowed to flourish during the decades of dictatorship, the 1979, peace treaty was honored and there was some trade and diplomatic activity with Israel. Opposition groups considered this treasonous, and there is a lot of popular enthusiasm with severing all ties with Israel and even declaring a state of war. This would cost Egypt a lot of money (the billions in American aid each year, in effect a bribe to sign and abide by the 1979 treaty). Such self-destructive moves are common in the Arab world, even though many Egyptians oppose it and most realize peace is preferable to bad relations with Israel. But Westerners have a hard time comprehending the impact of decades of "destroy Israel" propaganda. This kind of hate speech is what passes for politically correct, and those who object can face all sorts of trouble (including physical injury or death). Thus there is no openly pro-Israel candidate running for president of Egypt. Officially, Israel is the enemy and must be destroyed, by any means necessary. But the recent revolution in Egypt was more about internal freedoms and the curse of corruption and government mismanagement. These had been taboo subjects during half a century of dictatorship, with the media allowed to push anti-Israeli subjects as much as they wanted. While Egyptians think in general ("destroy Israel"), they live in detail (how can I earn a living). Ultimately, you have to follow your belly, not your hatreds. But in the meantime diplomatic and economic relations with Egypt are worse than they have been for decades.

Hamas and Fatah have agreed to settle their political differences. But until this new deal is implemented (in elections by the end of the year), they still harass and arrest each other's members in Gaza (run by Hamas) and the West Bank (run by Fatah).  Both Palestinian groups are encouraged by the success at demonizing Israel in the Western media, where Arab terrorism is played down and any Israeli effort to defend itself tends to be denounced as a war crime. This is changing public opinion in the West, which is now much less pro-Israeli. For example, three years ago, 59 percent of Germans said they liked Israel. Now that is 36 percent.

Turkish media revealed that four of five Israeli UAVs, sent to Israel for repairs, were finally returned to Turkey. The return was delayed in 2010, when Turkey’s Islamic government had backed itself into a corner by demanding Israel apologize for defending itself when halting ships seeking to break the Gaza blockade. The Turks demanded an apology for the deaths of Turkish radicals, compensation, and an end to the blockade. This was despite the fact that Hamas (and many other groups in Gaza) are recognized as international terrorists and that the Turkish activists on the ships were videoed attacking the Israeli boarding party. The Turks will not back down and neither will Israel. But the Turkish Army wanted their Heron UAVs repaired and returned, and apparently a deal to get that done was quietly made. The fifth Heron is supposed to be returned when repairs are completed. It would also appear that the Turks are going to try and quietly forget about their demands over the 2010, incident and repair their relations with Israel.

 May 24, 2012: Israeli military leaders believe that Hezbollah now has 60,000 rockets and missiles, for use against Israel in the event of another war. Syria has about 3,500 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel. Israel plans to destroy most of the Hezbollah rockets and missiles on the ground, either through air and artillery attacks or by advancing ground troops. But some portion of those Hezbollah weapons will get launched and will hit Israeli territory.

May 23, 2012:  Several Israeli warplanes flew into southern Lebanon, apparently as part of a training exercise to prepare for another Hezbollah attack on Israel.

There was a violent anti-African demonstration in Tel Aviv. Most Israelis want 60,000 illegal migrants from Africa deported. The Africans pay smugglers to get them through Egypt (where there is no work) and into Israel (where there are jobs and you can claim asylum). Most asylum claims are rejected but African nations are reluctant to take these migrants back. While not allowed to work, the migrants get jobs illegally and are responsible for a growing portion of the crime committed. Israel is building a 400 kilometer long security wall along the Egyptian border to try and keep the migrants out.

May 22, 2012: In Sudan (Port Sudan) a local businessman died when his vehicle exploded. The dead man turned out to be a major arms smuggler (to Egypt and eventually Gaza) and the Sudanese government blamed his death on Israel. Sudan denies that it allows weapons to be smuggled into Egypt but the Egyptian government believes otherwise. Israel denied any involvement with the Port Sudan explosion, as well as with a similar event last year in Sudan.

May 20, 2012: The head of the Iranian armed forces publicly declared that Iran remains determined to destroy Israel.

May 18, 2012: In northern Lebanon there have been over a hundred casualties from a week of fighting between Sunni Arab gunmen who back the rebels in Syria and Shia gunmen who back the Syrian dictator. The Lebanese Army appears to have halted the violence, for the moment. Most Lebanese oppose the Syrian dictatorship, which has interfered in Lebanese affairs for decades and claims that Lebanon is actually a part of Syria.

May 17, 2012: Egypt has resumed natural gas deliveries to Jordan, using a pipeline that passes near the southern tip of Israel at the north end of the Gulf of Aqaba, on its way to Jordan. Egypt unilaterally cancelled gas delivery contracts with Israel, which was delivered via an underwater pipeline to southern Israel. Islamic radicals had been blowing up the portion of the pipeline that fed both the Israeli and Jordanian branches.

 

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