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Peace: the road that leads to war — Part 6
ONE OF THE AGREEMENTS THAT make up the Egypt-Israel peace treaty is a ban on hostile propaganda. The government controlled Egyptian press is the mouthpiece for the ruling party and prints nothing that the president does not want printed. The Egyptian press is described as being “full of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish venom, preaching hatred and prejudice.” The very real hatred can be perceived in the way former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir was depicted in Cairo’s Al Mussawar. Apparently flattered by Israeli protests against previous insults to Shamir, the newspaper printed an apology—not to Shamir, but “to people and animals who may have been insulted by associating them with the Israeli leader. The writer, Mahmud a-Sa’adani, confessed to describing Shamir inappropriately. By calling him a butcher, Sa’adani says, he “insulted butchers.” Sa’adani continues:
“Shamir is also upset by my calling him a monkey, and I must apologize to all monkeys, from gorillas to the tiniest specimens, for monkeys are pretty and make people laugh…The monkey can be useful: its hair is used for brushes and blankets, its meat makes a luxurious meal, and eating its brain is a cure for memory-loss. But Shamir, apparently, is good only for opening the bellies of pregnant women…and skinning their fetuses with joy as if he were dancing with a beautiful girl on a cruise ship on the Danube.”
Other examples of Egyptian anti-Israel niceties would fill an entire book.
As mentioned in the last post, few Egyptians have visited Israel during the 35-year-old peace treaty. Those who wish to do so undergo lengthy interrogations by the security police and are shunned on their return home. A prominent Egyptian who did visit Israel, stated: “In order to come to Israel and receive a visa on my passport, I had to make a commitment that I would not visit any other Arab country as long as this passport is valid.”
An opinion poll, the first of its kind taken in Egypt, conducted at the end of 1994 by the mass circulation weekly Al-Ahram, showed that nearly 16 years after Egypt made peace with Israel: 71 percent of people said they would not buy Israeli goods; 75 percent did not want Israeli factories in Egypt; 63 percent did not want to visit Israel; and 53 percent did not want Israelis to visit Egypt. And in a May 1995, public opinion poll conducted in Egypt, 98 percent were opposed to having full relations with Israel, and 91 percent want Egypt to have nuclear capability “to confront Israel.” In 2014 the polls show only one or two percentage point up or down on the same topics.
After being at “peace” with Israel for three and a half decades, every night at the close of its broadcast Egypt Television screens footage of the zenith of Egyptian military might—the opening hours of its treacherous 1973 sneak invasion of Israel on Yom Kippur, Israel’s holiest and most solemn day. It should be remembered that Egypt was the initiator of all three of the major Arab-Israeli wars—the 1948 War of Independence, the 1967 Six-Day War, and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Egypt today is modernizing its army, introducing
Western military doctrine and integrating massive amounts of Western equipment. US financial aid and the US’s consent to sell Egypt top-of-the-line weapons systems, has today transformed the Egyptian military from a predominantly Soviet war machine into a Western fighting machine. Egypt’s former foreign minister Amr Moussa acknowledged that Egypt’s goal was “to achieve military parity with Israel.” Retired Israeli Air Force General Avihu Bin-Nun wrote rather acidly in the News Digest of the The Jerusalem Institute For Western Defense concerning American weapons supplies to Egypt. Bin-Nun wrote, inter alia:
“…the Egyptians are receiving from the Americans every weapons system Israel receives…. Worse, sometimes Israel refrains from requesting a certain weapon system lest the Arabs be supplied with it…. All the U.S. talk about ‘maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge’ is nonsense… .”
A senior Israel intelligence officer says: “The Egyptians are building their military forces aimed at Israel—there is no doubt about this.” Many IDF generals also find the evidence that Egypt is arming against Israel overwhelming. Israeli concerns over the buildup has led to a decrease in Israeli military cooperation with the United States. The Air force, for example, has turned down several US offers for joint exercises. The reason is that Israel does not want the Americans to “relay its methods to the Egyptians.”
Egypt was impressed with Saddam Hussein’s upgraded Soviet SCUD missile hits on Israeli population centers in 1991—they brought Israeli life to a standstill. Egypt went on to to buy from North Korea the enhanced Scud-C missile and later began producing it. Egypt also began building a 300 megawatt Chinese-made nuclear reactor, which once online, would be capable of making four nuclear warheads a month.
Egypt has repeatedly demanded that Israel sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and open all its facilities to international inspection. However, Israel has a deliberate policy of nuclear ambiguity—it neither admits to possessing nuclear weapons nor denies that it possesses nuclear weapons. Egypt is believed to have the largest arsenal of chemical weapons in the Middle East, and it adamantly refuses to sign a treaty against the proliferation of non-conventional biological and chemical weapons, which are banned in warfare. It also rejects the very idea of international inspection of its facilities. Egypt never protested Iraq’s use of poison gas against the Kurds during the eight-year-long 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war, nor of Syria’s use of it in Hama against the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982 when up to 40,000 Syrians were killed. Egypt itself used poison gas against Yemen in 1966. Neither did Egypt protest against the development of nuclear weapons by Iraq, Iran or Pakistan—Egypt simply wants to make Israel indefensible by depriving it of its nuclear deterrent. Political and military analysts point out: “The Egyptian military threat to Israel has never been greater, and that Egypt remains Israel’s most dangerous potential enemy.”
Egypt is accused of playing a risky double game—simultaneously discussing peace while pursuing an expedited and dangerous arming policy. Back in 1995, Dov Shilansky, an Israeli government opposition member, warned the then government against “missing
or ignoring the signals of war with Egypt, as happened in 1973.” The same holds true in 2014.
After all its years of “peace” with Israel, Egypt’s Brigadier-General Morad Dessouki, a military expert at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, was asked why Egypt needs such a large army, and just who is the enemy? He answered: “The Israelis, they are our enemy.” And in an edition of the Egyptian weekly Rous el Yusef—the contents of which are dictated directly from the presidents office—the former Egyptian minister of war, Amin el-Huwaidi, was quoted as saying: “A war with Israel is a certainty, and we are ready.” In the same edition the former minister of war, Field Marshall Ani Tantawi, was quoted as saying: “In spite of the fact Israel has atomic weapons, Egypt will know how to cut off the arm of the enemy when it comes. And this, they say, is the role model for all Middle East peace agreements?
To be continued
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