A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
February 8, 2011 Week Three Of Demonstrations in Egypt Begin
The protests in Egypt have entered their third week, with no real end in sight. The protests have begun to be so routine that the story was not covered on Israel's evening news until 20 minutes into the broadcast. As long as Mubarak remains in charge it is hard to see the demonstrators ending their demonstrations. On the other hand, Egypt seems to be stuck in a "Catch 22" when it comes to Mubarack resigning. The issue of Mubarak's remaining in office has confused American policy on Egypt as well. It would seem that under the Egyptian constitution, if Mubarak resigns, elections have to be held within 60 days. Two months is not long enough for any significant opposition party to organize, with the possible exception of the Muslim Brotherhood. Two months is also not long enough to put safeguards into place that will guarantee this is not the one and only free election to take place in Egypt. Many of the opposition leaders understand this problem. However, they are not willing to throw out the Egyptian constitution. They would like to modify the constitution. Others just want Mubarak out of office, whatever the cost. The current regime has been making a number of concessions to the opposition. For many, as long as Mubarak is in power, no amount of concessions will be sufficient.
So for the moment, there is a strange normalcy in Egypt. On one hand, Cairo is returning to a more normal rythym of commerce and other activities for a good part of the day. Though late in the afternoon hundreds of thousands of people return to the square to continue their protests. The current situation could go on for a while without a clear resolution. On the other hand there are reports that Mubarak will head to Germany for medical treatment.
The events in Egypt have had a small, but immediate and quiet impact on Israel. The defense budget was silently increased by 600 million Shekels over the last few days. In the meantime, one of the main stories covered today was the arrest warrant issued for Kiryat Arba's Rabbi Lior, for his endorsement of a book that claimed Jewish law supports killing Muslim children. The Rabbi refused to be questioned by police. Supporters held a rally in Hebron, warning they will stop anyone who tries to arrest the Rabbi. A large number of rabbis who opposed Rabbi Lior's rabbinic ruling have defended him. Lior's defenders claim that even though they disagree with his ruling, he has his rights to his opinions. They claimed that in a democracy freedom of speech is sacrosanct. In the United States, it has been a long established law, that however precious the right of freedom of speech, as Jusice Oliver Wendlall Holmes wrote: "no one has the right to cry 'fire' in a crowded theater". That, in essence is just what Rabbi Lior's words suggest.
A few articles worth reading, the first by Rabbi SHMULEY BOTEACH in today's Jerusalem Post: Israel is Missing an Historic Opportunity
The second, Speaker's Corner of the Nile by Thomas Friedman
The Third by Richard Cohen in today's Washington Post: Democracies don't happen overnight
If you have the time, there is a preview of Next Sunday's magazine article called A Plan for Peace That Could Still Be