Mixed Sentiments in Egyptian Discourse about Israel

(Institute for National Security Studies) Omer Einav, Orit Perlov, and Ofir Winter - The judo match between Israeli Ori Sasson and Egyptian Islam el-Shehaby at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro aroused much public interest in both countries. In Egyptian public discourse, as reflected in the leading media and social networks, one approach emphasized that el-Shehaby's decision not to shake hands with Sasson was understandable. A more common sentiment is severe criticism of el-Shehaby's behavior. The most common term used to describe the situation was "pathetic," accompanied by the sense that the Egyptian flag had been disgraced. Press articles also expressed dismay at the scene that portrayed Egypt as unsportsmanlike in front of millions around the world. Egypt's image as a peace-loving, stable country combating extremism, rather than a stronghold of radical Islam and backwardness, is regarded by Egypt's leaders as a key to attracting foreign investment, rehabilitating the tourist industry, and increasing growth and development. Egypt's peaceful relations with Israel constitute an integral part of Egypt's positive international reputation. At the same time, normalization of ties with Israel remains a sensitive idea for the Egyptian public. Most of el-Shehaby's critics were not motivated by a desire for normalization. At the same time, the very existence of an open public debate on an issue considered taboo for many years constitutes a notable development.

2016-08-19 00:00:00

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