SATURDAY, MARCH 12, 2011
When Egyptian youth began their occupation of the Cairo square, it was difficult for the Israeli public to take it seriously. They knew that the Egyptian army dominated the government, that the so-called dictator Hosni Mubarak served at army pleasure. One of the most popular jokes circulating in Israel during the first outburst of protest in Egypt read “Dear Egyptian Rioters, Please don’t damage the pyramids. We will not rebuild.”
Israel’s seeming indifference in the current continuing crisis is matched by its indifference to popular outrage in almost every nation over its 44 year occupation of the West Bank territories once controlled by Palestinians. This indifference was sustained by its belief that authoritarian Arab regimes would keep their subjects’ rage in check and that the survival of the authoritarian Arab regimes would be defended under the United States security umbrella for geopolitical reasons and especially for the continuity of the oil business. The deference to the US was responsible for the stability of Egypt’s and Jordan’s peace accords with Israel.
This functioning of power reaches beyond the limits of representative democracy into sanctified areas of corporate profits, national income and world hegemony. Hosni Mubarak is out of power but Israel may once again become the pariah nation in the region. If democracy becomes a way of life there, at least one of the nascent political parties will make demands of Israel. A change of government in Egypt, still undetermined, is likely to undermine Israel’s strategic situation, even the degree of US support, as America might be forced to choose between Israel and the wildly profitable flow of Arab oil.