Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Israel and Egypt Connected

I was reading the local Jewish Journal today, and I read it with new eyes thanks to my friendship with Dr. Maikel Nabil Sanad and my exposure to his pacifist ideas.  I haven’t adopted his pacifist ideology, but I am undoubtedly influenced by him and his ideas.  I was reading the South Palm Beach County Jewish Journal from Florida in February 20, 2013.  The articles were on page 8.

The first article was entitled “Israel holds exercise simulating rocket strikes on schools.”  Sadly, such an exercise is a necessity when one considers that southern Israel has been under nearly constant bombardment from first PLO and then Hamas rockets since the year 2000.  Northern Israel was also rocketed by Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon War.  Under such conditions, such exercises are important mechanisms for protecting the safety and lives of Jewish children.

However, I also feel a deep sadness about the fact that such exercises are necessary in the first place.  I am greatly saddened that Jewish children have to learn how to find the nearest bomb shelter as early as kindergarten.  I wish that Jewish kids could go to school in peace without worrying about how to locate a bomb shelter.

The other article was entitled “Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem vandalized.”  The article indicated that Jewish extremists had vandalized the historic Mamilla cemetery in Jerusalem, which has existed since the 11th century.  The attackers posted not only Stars of David but also the highly offensive phrases “death to Arabs” and “Mohammed is dead.”  The attackers were obviously intending to engage in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate, and their behavior is uncivilized, undemocratic, and completely unacceptable.  I think that Yerushalayim should remain the undivided and eternal capital of Israel and the Jews.  But such vandalism violates Israel’s commitment to religious freedom and respect for all faiths in a united Jerusalem and should not be allowed.

I thought back to Maikel’s very brave statement announcing his refusal to serve in the Egyptian army in 2010.  In his statement, he spoke of his opposition to the ongoing Egyptian regime’s harassment against Israel and the Jews.  He specifically blasted the 1948 Egyptian invasion of Israel and Nasser’s decision to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping in 1967, which led to the Six Day War. He protested Egypt’s ongoing support for anti-Israel terrorists.

And I realized the connections between the fates of Israel and Egypt.  I saw that when Israeli Jewish extremists attack Arab Muslims in Jerusalem, they undermine the prospect of co-existence between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs.  They also weaken the efforts of our brave Egyptian allies like Maikel, who are supporting the Jews under unimaginably dangerous conditions inside Egypt.  Egyptian liberals are battling a ferocious onslaught of radical Islam at home, and they need Western and Israeli support for their struggle.  And also if the Egyptian liberals win their struggle against radical Islam, then they will have the opportunity to normalize relations with Israel and the Jews.  I hope that the support of Egyptian liberals for Israel and the Jews can one day help contribute to creating the conditions under which Jewish children no longer have to prepare to find bomb shelters.

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