No More Illusions about Egypt after Mubarak

(Globe and Mail-Canada) Yossi Klein Halevi - The electoral victory of Egypt's radical Muslim Brotherhood marks the end of one era of Western wishful thinking about the Middle East while bringing a new era of self-delusion in its place. Although Mubarak plundered his people, held sham elections and ignored growing Egyptian poverty and unemployment, the West spent decades treating him as a force for stability, even progress. Mubarak faced little international criticism for turning the Egypt-Israel peace agreement into a farce. Under his regime, there was virtually no Egyptian tourism to Israel or joint business ventures. Egyptians who did visit Israel were subjected to harassment after returning home. The state-owned media was among the Arab world's most viciously anti-Jewish, promoting Holocaust denial and portraying Israel as the new Nazi Germany. Still, Israelis sensed Mubarak was right when he warned that the most likely alternative to his rule was radical Islam. Some in the West say governing will temper the Muslim Brotherhood. Similar hopes were expressed when the Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, seized power in Gaza in 2007. But since then, Hamas' rule has become increasingly authoritarian, with opponents imprisoned and tortured. Just recently, the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, called the creation of Israel "the worst catastrophe ever to befall the peoples of the world" and urged Arab armies to confront Israel. Yet these and other incendiary statements tend to go underreported in the West. The writer is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

2012-06-28 00:00:00

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