Sadat's Visit, the Peace Process and the Future of Israeli-Arab Relations: Charles Bybelezer, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2017 — Exactly forty years ago, on November 20, 1977, then-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addressed the Israeli parliament in what is considered a watershed moment in the Jewish state's history.
Israeli Attitudes Towards Egypt 40 Years After Sadat’s Visit: Prof. Efraim Karsh, BESA, Nov. 19, 2017— Forty years ago this month, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport for a two-day visit to Jerusalem, at the official invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Series of Attacks in Egypt Targeting Coptic Christians Forces Churches to Close: Perry Chiaramonte, Fox News, Nov. 2, 2017 — Egypt has been one of the worst places for Christian persecution in recent months.
‘Journalist’ Ayat Oraby: Mainstream or Extreme?: Samantha Rose Mandeles, American Spectator, Nov. 14, 2017— On October 20, 54 Egyptian policemen were killed in a firefight with “militants” in the desert, 80 miles from Cairo.
Video: Raymond Ibrahim on Egyptian President Sisi and Coptic Christians: Raymond Ibrahim, Youtube, Oct. 20, 2017
Sadat and Begin – the Peacemakers: Dr. Martin Kramer, BESA, Nov. 19, 2017
40 Years Since Egypt’s Pres. Anwar Sadat Came to Jerusalem, Israel: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Nov. 19, 2017
Sadat and Me in Jerusalem 40 Years Ago: Lenny Ben-David, JCPA, Nov. 20, 2017
Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2017
Exactly forty years ago, on November 20, 1977, then-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addressed the Israeli parliament in what is considered a watershed moment in the Jewish state's history. His call for peace with Israel turned on its head the conflict with the Arab world which to that point had played out in four major wars—in 1948, 1956, 1967 and just a few years earlier, in 1973. In all of these conflagrations, Egypt played a leading role as the region's most populous and important country and thus the torch-bearer of Arab nationalism, the predominant political system in the Middle East at the time.
In his speech to Israeli lawmakers, Sadat "declare[d] to the whole world that we [Egyptians] accept to live with you in permanent peace based on justice." Months later, on March 16, 1979, Sadat and then-Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin shook hands on the White House lawn after signing a formal treaty brokered by former US president Jimmy Carter.
The enormity of the event cannot be overstated both because since that time, Israel's southern border has remained relatively quiet, effectively removing an existential threat, thereby allowing Jerusalem to reallocate resources away from defense and towards building a prosperous country. It also paved the way for the signing of the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan, which secured Israel's eastern flank.
According to Zvi Mazel, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, "Sadat's visit was probably the most important moment up to that point in Israel's short existence. Out of the blue," he told The Media Line, "the president of Egypt decided to come to Jerusalem and very quickly did so—it was like a dream, we could not believe it was happening. The leader of the biggest Arab country with whom we fought only wars comes and says he wants peace."
Itzhak Levanon, another former top Israeli envoy to Cairo, described the feeling in Israel at the time as if "the Messiah was coming." He highlighted to The Media Line the risk that Sadat was taking, "as he faced a lot of antagonism within Egypt [and ultimately was assassinated by Islamic extremists in 1981]. There were two ministers who resigned and the Muslim Brotherhood was against the move. Most of the public sphere was also very critical of him. "So from the beginning there was a dichotomy between the two peoples," Levanon elaborated, a reality which in his estimation accounts for the "cold" peace that currently persists.
Despite the absence of meaningful co-existence, today there appears to be a renewed thawing in ties between the Jewish state and the Arab world, driven by a confluence of interests, primarily the shared desire to curb Shiite Iran's expansionism. Hence, the context and timing of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman's comments over the weekend, in which he urged the heads of Sunni Muslim states to publicly visit Israel. "I call on the leaders of the region to follow in [former] president Sadat's steps by coming to Jerusalem and opening a new page.… Sadat was courageous [and] stood against the tide [thereby] pav[ing] the way for [others to] recognize the importance of the strategic relationship with the state of Israel," Liberman wrote.
His statements came after IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot last week gave a much-publicized interview to the Saudi Elaph newspaper, in which he asserted that "[Israel is] ready to exchange experiences with Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab countries [as well as] intelligence information to confront Iran." For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long trumpeted that Jerusalem is on the precipice of a "new era" in its relations with Arab states.
This apparent rapprochement is occurring on the backdrop of efforts by US President Donald Trump to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, with multiple reports claiming that White House point men Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt have started devising the parameters of a comprehensive deal that will incorporate regional countries into the mix. And herein, according to many analysts, lies the key to Israel's ability to unlock the full potential of prospective ties with the Arab world; namely, that so-called "normalization" can only occur when the Palestinian issue is resolved.
Sadat himself emphasized during his visit to Israel that peace with Egypt could not be separated from the fate of the Palestinians. "In the absence of a just solution to the Palestinian problem, never will there be that durable…peace upon which the entire world insists," he affirmed. To this end, the subsequent agreement with Israel gave birth to the "Palestinian autonomy talks" that aimed to resolve the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which had come under Israeli control in the 1967 war. The Framework for Peace in the Middle East, a section of the 1978 Camp David Accords, called for elections in the territories and the formation of a Palestinian "self-governing authority" within one year…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Prof. Efraim Karsh
BESA, Nov. 19, 2017
Forty years ago this month, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport for a two-day visit to Jerusalem, at the official invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The entire world held its breath. Here was the leader of the largest and most populous Arab state, which had spearheaded repeated pan-Arab attempts to destroy Israel, visiting the contested capital of the Arab world’s foremost nemesis in an apparent acquiescence in the legitimacy of the Jewish State’s existence and its right to peaceful coexistence with its Arab neighbors. So profound was the general disbelief that the Israeli chief-of-staff, Lt. Gen. Mordechai Gur, warned the government that the visit was an Egyptian deceptive ploy, on the heels of the Egyptian-Syrian surprise attack of October 1973.
The visit proved to be the most important single political event in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, culminating in the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of March 1979 and the attendant shattering of the Arab world’s uniform rejection of Jewish statehood. And while Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, held a far more restrictive view of the agreement, the Israeli-Egyptian peace has successfully weathered many regional crises (from the 1982 Lebanon war, to the “al-Aqsa Intifada,” to the 2014 Gaza conflict), paving the road to the October 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty and the yet-to-be-completed Israeli-Palestinian peace process launched with the September 1993 Oslo Accord.
But how do Israelis view this momentous event from a forty-year vantage point? Do they appreciate its full historic significance and the impact it has had on their lives? Do they consider the price of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty worth paying? A recent survey held by Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) shows a rather mixed picture. While 81% of respondents viewed the agreement as conducive to Israel’s national security, 51% deemed the concessions made for its attainment (notably the evacuation of the oil-rich Sinai Peninsula and the demolition of the Yamit town) to have been excessive, compared to 46% of respondents who considered them commensurate with the agreement’s mammoth gains.
This apparent contradiction seems to be a corollary of Israelis’ keen awareness of Mubarak’s lukewarm perception of peace. While one can only speculate about Sadat’s own ultimate intentions – he was assassinated in October 1981 by an Islamist zealot – for Mubarak, peace was of no value in and of itself but was rather the price Cairo had to pay for such substantial benefits as US economic and military aid. As a result, Mubarak reduced interaction with Israel to the lowest possible level, while simultaneously transforming the Egyptian army into a formidable modern force and fostering a culture of virulent anti-Semitism in Egypt, a culture whose premises he himself evidently shared.
Though President Abdel Fattah Sisi has taken a different route, bringing Israeli-Egyptian relations to unprecedented heights, most Israelis seem to acknowledge the instrumental nature of the Egyptian perception of peace. Consequently, only 14% of the BESA survey regarded Egypt’s attitude to Israel as friendly (of whom 37% thought Israel “overpaid” for the agreement), while 68% viewed it as lukewarm and another 18% as hostile (of whom 44% and 68% respectively deemed the concessions made for the agreement as excessive).
Not surprisingly, perhaps, support for the agreement was found to be strongest among center-left voters, though it was actually the rightwing Likud Party that made this historic breakthrough. Ninety-two percent of Hamahane Hatzioni and Yesh Atid voters, as well as 88% of Meretz voters, believed the agreement to have enhanced Israel’s national security as opposed to 82% of Likud voters, 82% of Habayit Hayehudi’s voters, and 67% of Israel Beitenu voters. Support for the agreement within the ultraorthodox community was even lower, with 64% of Shas voters and 68% of Yahadut Hatorah voters viewing the agreement as conducive to Israel’s national security.
Likewise, the survey exposed the ambiguous attitude of Israel’s Arab citizens to the agreement, or indeed to possible Israeli reconciliation with the neighboring Arab states. While only 68% of Israeli Arabs viewed the agreement as conducive to Israel’s national security, compared to 83% of their Jewish compatriots, 17% of them deemed the price paid for its attainment to have been too low (compared to 1% of Israeli Jews). In other words, Israeli Arabs are more inclined than their Jewish counterparts (with the salient exception of Meretz voters) to have their state pay a higher price for a less favorable international agreement affecting its national security. This inclination is markedly higher among voters for the Joint Arab Party (compared to those voting for Jewish parties), with 22% of them considering the price too low.
The gap between Israeli Arabs and Jews notwithstanding, both communities are equally skeptical about the prospects for a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement, with over 80% of respondents agreeing that there are currently no leaders of Sadat’s and Begin’s stature on either side of the divide who are capable of effecting a similarly momentous breakthrough. Hardly a heart-warming prognosis after nearly four decades of Egyptian-Israeli peace.
Fox News, Nov. 2, 2017
Egypt has been one of the worst places for Christian persecution in recent months. A series of attacks targeting Christians and forced closure of churches have caused Egypt’s Christian population to call on authorities for help. The Minya Coptic Orthodox Diocese said authorities sealed off two churches in the southern province, citing harassment and attacks by extremists. A third was closed because of fear of attacks. The statement was issued late Saturday.
It said clashes broke out Friday when ultraconservative Muslims tried to attack one of the churches, adding that a Coptic woman was wounded. Later that day, the mob attacked Christian homes, the statement said. “We have kept quiet for two weeks … but the situation has worsened. It seems as if prayer is a crime the Copts should be punished for,” the statement said, referring to the repeated closure of the churches. The diocese urged authorities to end discrimination against Christians and “not to succumb to the fundamentalists.”
Minya Governor Essam Badawi denied the churches were closed for security reasons, saying they were “unlicensed houses” that lacked the documentation needed to “perform religious rites.” However, he confirmed there were two attacks on the houses of worship and that 15 people were arrested. He said police are searching for 11 other suspects. He said 21 churches in Minya are still open for services.
According to the International Christian Concern, a separate clash broke out on October 27, when a Muslim mob formed in the village of Exbat, following noontime prayer services and attacked St. George’s Church and other buildings owned by Christians. Security officials responded, thereby, closing the church.
“Following the Friday prayer, many Muslims gathered into a mob and began to attack us,” Sobhi, a Christian resident in Ezbat Zakaria, said in a statement to ICC, which was provided to Fox News. “They threw stones at our homes resulting in breaking the doors and windows of some houses, injuring a Coptic woman … they set three stables owned by Copts on fire. They then headed to the church (the building services) and tried to attack it, but the security guards who were assigned confronted them and prevented them from approaching the church.”
Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up around 10 percent of the population, long have been a target of Islamic extremists. Attacks on churches by Muslim mobs increased since the 2013 military coup that ousted an Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi. Christians overwhelmingly supported the army chief-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, and extremists have used such support as a pretext to increase attacks against them.
The recent closures of the churches underscore the recent problems the Coptic Christian community has faced. Historically, most attacks on the Coptic community occurred in northern parts of the country, including the Sinai Peninsula. “Once again, Christians in Egypt are suffering for no other reason than their faith. As this event illustrates, Egypt’s Christians are not safe whether they are at home or at church,” Claire Evans, regional manager for ICC said in a statement provided to Fox News. “Closing the church does nothing to protect Christians. In fact, the mob wanted to close the church and deny the Christians the ability to exercise their right to religious practice.”
Christians in northern Sinai have been fleeing in droves in recent years because of the militant threats, and the community — that before 2011 numbered up to 5,000 — now has dwindled to less than 1,000, according to The Associated Press. There are no official statistics on the number of Christians in cities or across the country. The displacement underscores what many human rights activists have said about the failure of the Egyptian government in providing the minimum level of security to the Christians in this volatile region of northern Sinai, where the military has been battling for years against militants.
Also, local authorities often have refused to permit the construction of churches, fearing blowback from ultraconservative Muslims. That has led Christians to set up unauthorized houses of worship, which are sometimes attacked by Muslim mobs. Last August, parliament passed a law that for the first time spelled out rules on building churches, a step many Christians had hoped would speed construction. But critics fear that only the restrictions will be implemented.
Samantha Rose Mandeles
American Spectator, Nov. 14, 2017
On October 20, 54 Egyptian policemen were killed in a firefight with “militants” in the desert, 80 miles from Cairo. Local media reported the police were attacked by the Hasm Movement, a terrorist organization that the Egyptian government claims is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Governments around the world offered statements of sympathy to the Egyptian government over one of deadliest attacks against Egyptian security forces in many years. The U.S. State Department announced that it “condemns the terrorist attack,” “[offers] profound condolences,” and “stands with Egypt at this difficult time, as we continue to work together to fight the scourge of terrorism.”
But among some Islamist activists in America, there was jubilation. In a Facebook post, written on October 20, New York-based journalist Ayat Oraby applauded the killings, accusing the deceased soldiers and police of insolence and cowardice. In another post about one of the murdered soldiers, Oraby expressed “Joy at the death of that criminal!” Oraby accused the deceased soldiers of having previously been paid by Egyptian General (and now President) Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to murder unarmed Muslims during the infamous Rabaa massacre in 2013, during which supporters of the deposed Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohamed Morsi, clashed with Egyptian police and military.
Oraby is a prominent figure. She serves as the editor-in-chief of Noon Al-Niswa, the “first Arab American Women’s magazine.” In 2013, Noon Al-Niswa held an event to celebrate its first printed issue after being an exclusively online publication. According to another Arabic-language online publication, the event was attended by self-styled “human rights activist” Linda Sarsour, former Deputy Secretary of Energy Randa Fahmy Hudome and New Jersey state senator Barbara Buono.
In her capacity as an editor, Oraby has won the Shirley Chisholm Award in journalism (awarded by New Jersey Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver), and been invited to speak on college campuses all over North America, including at Concordia University, University of Toronto, and Montclair State University. At her Montclair State talk, Oraby was billed as an “Activist, Journalist, Broadcaster & Advocate for Arab women.” What sort of activism does Oraby practice? In a 2016 Arabic-language video on her Facebook account denouncing Egypt’s Coptic Christian population, she declared that “the Crescent must always be on top of the Cross” and urged her audience to “Boycott the Christians economically.”
Oraby’s Facebook posts, meanwhile, include virulent anti-Semitism. She claims that Israel has taken over the Middle East, and that Egypt’s former president Gamal Abdel Nasser was “a Jew” and an “American Intelligence agent.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has a long history of commenting on hate speech issues. But when we asked CAIR’s national office and its New York branch to comment on Oraby’s extremism, they refused.
CAIR was founded and remains run by Muslim Brotherhood members. Its refusal to condemn this anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and pro-terror rhetoric is explained by Oraby’s own history of involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood. Oraby’s Twitter profile lists her as a member of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC), a Turkey-based organization that supports Egypt’s ousted Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi. Although Oraby claims she is “not with Muslim Brotherhood,” Oraby’s membership in the ERC indicates otherwise. When ERC first formed, at least one Egyptian English-language paper announced, “MB supporters launch revolutionary council.” Another Arabic-language paper describes Oraby as an “active member of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Furthermore, Oraby has lobbied Congress alongside MB activists who endorse the boycott of Copts, later showing up in a photo with them displaying the four-fingered Muslim Brotherhood gesture. Oraby has praised Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb as an “intellectual” and a “martyr.” And, both of her Facebook profiles feature pictures of Muhammad Morsi as the cover photo. She even captioned her personal page’s photo of Morsi with the declaration, “We still consider you to be the legitimate president of Egypt.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Video: Raymond Ibrahim on Egyptian President Sisi and Coptic Christians: Raymond Ibrahim, Youtube, Oct. 20, 2017—In the video that follows, I discuss the situation of the Christian Copts of Egypt in the context of that nation’s president. The clip is from this year’s annual Coptic Solidarity conference held last June in Washington D.C.
Sadat and Begin – the Peacemakers: Dr. Martin Kramer, BESA, Nov. 19, 2017—It is now thirty-eight years since the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, most famously evoked by the three-way handshake on the White House lawn that changed the Middle East.
40 Years Since Egypt’s Pres. Anwar Sadat Came to Jerusalem, Israel: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Nov. 19, 2017—The Israeli government on Sunday marked the fortieth anniversary of the historic visit by an Egyptian leader that marked the start of a new era of peace in the Middle East.
Sadat and Me in Jerusalem 40 Years Ago: Lenny Ben-David, JCPA, Nov. 20, 2017—Forty years ago, I worked in Washington as the Director of Research at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. My work focused on arguing against the Carter Administration’s push for an international peace conference in Geneva that would include the Soviet Union and radical Arab states and opposing American arms sales to Egypt.