February 11, 2011 Mubarak Resigns- Implications For Israel

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

February 11, 2011 Mubarak Resigns- Implications For Israel

It happened. There has always been an argument questioning whether history repeats itself. Well, it does. What we have seen in Egypt this past 18 days is almost a carbon copy of what took place in Eastern Europe a little over 20 years ago. A regime not of 30 years, but of nearly 60 years, has now fallen. Egypt has been ruled by the same regime since the military coup against King Farouk in 1952. The regime was doomed the moment it was clear that the army was unwilling to fire on the demonstrators. The future is unclear. This afternoon, the army stated that it would implement the demands of the people. They made it clear they do not want to rule.

Will there be democracy in Egypt? In the Middle East? Will the military truly cede power? I am not willing to predict, but it is more likely today than it was yesterday, or last week. There are so many unanswered questions. For example, how strong is the Muslim Brotherhood? Would they be the default power in an open democracy, or will it be just the reverse? (Meaning, they do well only when they stand in opposition to a repressive regime?) There are many unanswered questions. In times like this, I remember an old Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times."  What does this mean for Israel? It means a number of things. However, most important, is that Israel can no longer make peace with Arab leaders, but will need to make peace with the people. I read an interesting piece by Daniel Gordis in today's Jerusalem Post. In the piece Gordis reflected, almost sadly, at the hopes Israelis had when Sadat came to visit. I too remember those days. I remember most vividly the days, during my reserve duty, when I actively participated in our withdrawal from Sinai. I was one of the last Israelis in uniform on duty to visit the coral beaches of Ras Muhammad, on the very Southern tip of Sinai. I remember the hope and optimism, coordinating with our Egyptian counterparts.

We tend to blame the Egyptians for the cold peace that has followed. This is as good a time as any to put things into a little historic perspective. It was not too long after we had withdrawn from Sinai that we embarked on the First Lebanon War; a war whose images included our shelling Beirut, and of course the final images of Sabra and Shatilla. I n the first Lebanon war as in other cases since, we may have been right. However, there is the saying that states: It's better to be smart than right! We have a long history of being right, but not smart. I do not how one gets the message across to Israeli politicians. Decisions from now on have to be made taking in account “how will it fly in the Arab world and street?" And not, how will it fly with potential Likud or Israeli Beitunu voters. I am not suggesting that Israel put its security in the hands of the Arab streets. But now it is time to understand that the world has changed and we must act accordingly.

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