Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Arab Democracy?

A Tunisian vegetable seller sets himself on fire, and next thing you know, the Arab world is trying to shake off its tyrants. Some left, some are more stubborn.

As always, we are posing the eternal question: is this good or bad for the Jews? According to Thomas Friedman, democracy is supposed to be good for peace, that's why the West wants to see democratic Arab states (while more realistic Israelis praise stability), but is this going to happen?

At the beginning of the revolution, we saw and heard middle class Egyptians claiming that anti-Israeli propaganda is an insult to their intelligence, they are not going to attack us, they have enough problems of their own. So why are we not convinced? The well organized Muslim Brotherhood (and others) called for a reassessment of the peace treaty with Israel. Mubarak was denounced as a friend of Israel, gas export has stopped and the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv stopped issuing visas for Israelis. The military of this 84 million neighboring nation (we are barely 7) has top notch American gear and is constantly training against the IDF. Each year, one million new Egyptians join the ranks of the unemployed and corruption is wide spread. Turning Egypt into a democracy is a long and painful process, with a fair chance for the masses to loose patience and faith in a better system along the way. When that happens, self-preserving power can conveniently point at an external enemy (Israel) to divert attention from real problems (as countless examples in the history of nations teach us), while extremists and fundamentalists are ready to offer a better 'solution' to the impatient mases.

In the mean time, gas supply has resumed and the Egyptians intercepted truckloads of weapons from Sudan meant for Hamas in Gaza.