Israeli politicians, ministers (this week it was the secretary of state), members of Knesset and other officials, say publicly and without hesitation that the peace between Israel and Egypt is in the interest of Egypt, and that Egypt must put an end to the chaos in Sinai because it is a threat to Egypt, not only to Israel, and the attack two weeks ago proves this. I do not reject this Israeli evaluation, however the fact that many Israelis say this over and over again creates the impression that they are afraid and shaking with fear lest the peace agreement might be cancelled, and therefore they try to convince the Egyptians that this agreement is in Egypt’s interest even more than it is in Israel’s interest. But this kind of talk might cause the opposite result: a member of the Muslim Brotherhood might ask himself: if the Israelis are so fearful about the cancellation of the peace treaty then perhaps it’s the right thing to do? Israelis do not understand that their obsessive preoccupation in the media with the question of the peace agreement with Egypt actually endangers the peace agreement. Irresponsible Israeli chatter on the subject exposes Israeli fear, and as a result of this, many Egyptians call on Mursi to open the agreements and to behave as the master and the sovereign over Sinai, to stop supplying gas to Israel without regard to the resulting loss of income, and to remove the Israeli flag from Cairo.
Many Israelis do not know the rules of the game of the Middle East: the more we show enthusiasm for something, the higher its price rises, and the opposite holds true as well: the less interest we express in something, the lower the demanded price will be. If we announce day and night that we want peace with our enemies or to obtain the release of a kidnapped soldier who is in their hands – the price for the peace or the soldier will be more than we can pay. But if we broadcast a message that we can do without peace, and will not pay an exorbitant price for a kidnapped soldier, then the price will decrease to a reasonable level, one which is worth paying.
We have had another example in recent weeks: in order to fight terror in Sinai, Egypt requested from Israel to agree to bring tanks and helicopters into Sinai, which is forbidden according to the military appendix to the peace agreement. It seems that the government of Israel agreed to this extremely quickly and the process of decision making was greatly expedited. On one hand this is a correct and appropriate decision, because it is important that we support Egypt to cope with the terror in Sinai. But on the other hand, the Israeli haste in taking the decision broadcasts the very harmful and dangerous message that Israel is willing to yield quickly a central component of its security – the demilitarization of the Sinai – in exchange for preventing terror activity on its borders. That is, Israel sees a terror group as a greater danger than the Egyptian army deployed on its borders. Have the eyes of those who make decisions about our security, who have served in the most elite units in the IDF, become so dim? Has anyone thought about the long-term implication of bringing in the Egyptian military to Sinai? Was the permission that was given to Egypt limited in time, or might everything that was brought in remain forever? What will Israel do with requests to bring in additional weapons to Sinai? And what will Israel do if the Egyptians begin to stream weapons into Sinai – “in order to fight terror” – without Israel’s permission?
I still harbor the hope within myself that the day will come when our decision-makers will understand better the mindset of the Middle East, and will take decisions in a way that will strengthen Israel and not weaken her. This is especially important since the Islamic King Mursi the First is increasing his strength in Egypt, and his personal and ideological view is that Israel can evaporate together with its peace agreement.
Originally published at http://israelagainstterror.blogspot.co.il/search?q=mordechai+kedar&max-results=20&by-date=true
About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.
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