• Hamas’s Egyptian lifeline is dead: If it wasn’t clear before Egypt’s cease-fire proposal, it certainly is now: Hamas has no friend in Egypt. The proposal did not include any of the Hamas leaders’ demands, highlighting the stark changes in the Egypt-Hamas relationship since Hamas’s 2012 confrontation with Israel.
When the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi was elected Egyptian president in June 2012, Hamas rulers in Gaza gained a powerful ally in their neighbor to the south (Hamas is affiliated with the Brotherhood). Trade and arms trafficking in the tunnels linking Gaza and Egypt increased, and with the blockade of Gaza breached, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula became a staging ground for attacks against Israel.
That’s over now. Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi treats Hamas with the same disdain and antagonism he has for the Muslim Brotherhood, and he has choked off Hamas’s access point at the Egypt-Gaza border.
And in today’s Egypt, where intimidated press outlets take their cues from the government, Egyptian media have followed suit. A clip of excerpts from Egyptian TV programs taken July 9-12 and compiled by the Middle East Media Research Institute shows Egyptian commentators and anchors slamming Hamas.
“We are not prepared to sacrifice even a single hair from the eyebrow of an Egyptian soldier or civilian for the sake of Hamas and all the people who wage jihad while indulging them in all kinds of dishes at the swimming pool,” Egyptian talk-show host Mazhar Shahin said July 12. “They goad people into fighting, terrorism and violence under the pretext of jihad while they themselves sit at a hotel, a swimming pool or a nudist beach.”
• The psychological effects of air-raid sirens across Israel may be long lasting: For the first time, Israel’s populous center, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, are the sites of frequent air-raid sirens. Though the incoming rockets are either being intercepted or allowed to fall harmlessly in unpopulated areas, the psychological impact of this conflict is likely to reinforce Israelis’ sense of being under siege – particularly for those too young to remember the last time their cities were the site of bombings or rocket fire.
As Israeli author and journalist Ari Shavit wrote in London’s Sunday Times, the quiet of the last decade or so in metropolitan Tel Aviv – since the end of the Second Intifada – helped lull many Israelis into thinking they lived in some kind of Middle Eastern version of California, complete with skyrocketing real estate prices and high-tech start-ups. But with parents now running with their kids to bomb shelters, that bubble has burst.
Combined with the wars in Syria and Iraq, the revolution and counterrevolution in Egypt, and the rest of the Arab Spring, Israelis now may have more reason than ever to be wary.
• The link between Middle East ferment and anti-Semitism worldwide persists: As with past conflagrations between Israel and the Palestinians, anti-Semitic incidents around the world have spiked since Israel launched its bombing campaign in Gaza. A rabbi in Morocco was attacked on his way to shul last Friday night. Protesters in Paris marched to the Abravanel synagogue on Sunday chanting anti-Semitic slogans, throwing projectiles, and clashing with police and Jewish security guards. A synagogue elsewhere in France was firebombed. In Chile, a Jewish home was stoned while assailants yelled anti-Semitic epithets, according to the World Jewish Congress.
• American Jews are playing their familiar role: The Israel-Diaspora relationship may be changing, but the way American Jews react to Israel in a time of crisis is not. The American Jewish organizational establishment is collecting money, going on solidarity missions and taking to the airwaves to defend Israel’s reputation abroad. Those staples of solidarity efforts, Israel emergency fundraising campaigns, are back in full swing.