Troubling Brotherhood Document Jeopardizes 1979 Peace Treaty
The hope has always been that the Muslim Brotherhood would handle power responsibly. That they would pay attention to economic development and providing a better life for Egyptian citizens rather than to the length of women’s skirts. But there’s this disturbing document reported on the website for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs located here: http://jerusalemcenter.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/the-new-egyptian-parliament-takes-aim-at-the-camp-david-accords/.
The Egyptian Parliament has released a statement that jeopardizes the 1979 peace accords withIsrael. Again, as the Muslim Brotherhood began to take control the hope was that they would have more important things to worry about then taunting Israel. That appears not to be the case. The document is provocative and seriously capable of undermining the cold peace that has characterized the relationship between Israel and Egypt. Below are some of the qualities and themes of the document.
1. The document does not refer to the “State of Israel” but to the “Zionist entity.” This perpetuates the myth of Zionist conspiracies in the Arab world. The use of the word “Zionist” is designed to incite fear and stimulate images of Jewish manipulation and colonizing settlements. It clearly is not the language of any genuine peace process represented by the historic treaty of 1979.
2. Palestinian terror is referred to as “resistance.” In a peaceful relationship betweenEgyptandIsraelboth sides have denounced violence. To justify it as legitimate resistance is to justify violence.
3.Israelis officially defined as an enemy and any possibility of cooperative relations is rejected. This language is slippage into an “us” versus “them” mentality that seems to be the purpose of the document. These categorical group identifications lead to psychological and communicative distortions that exacerbate problems.
4. There is a suggestion of cutting off diplomatic relations. Such relations are important for maintaining a balance of power and the necessary lines of communication to prevent mistakes and misinterpretations. Cutting off diplomatic relations is usually a final insult before resuming violence.
5. There is a call for supporting the armed struggle against Israel including boycotts. Again, violence is justified.
6.Jerusalemis clearly defined as a Muslim holy place and the presence of the Jews is completely denied and ignored. A call to take up the cause of Jerusalem is designed to activate religious passions, especially amongst the lower and middle classes. Jerusalem is a symbol of loss and sometimes humiliation in the Arab world and reference to the city draws attention to this loss.
7. There is a frightening call to explore the possibilities of nuclear Egypt. Even if the Brotherhood is bluffing this is a dangerous game. How the nuclear standoff will play out in Iran remains to be seen.
The document was accepted unanimously by the Arab Affairs Committee and represents a new tone of confrontation and tension.Israelis defined as a major enemy and responsible for Palestinian suffering and instability in the Arab world. There are strong statements of support for Hamas and rejections of any direct negotiation or peace process withIsrael.
The relationship between Egypt and theUnited States remains hopeful. TheUnited States has supportedEgyptboth financially and militarily for a long time and is in a position to apply pressure. Nevertheless, if the Muslim Brotherhood foregrounds its religious convictions over political practicality then the “rational” influences theUnited Stateshas to bring to the table will be diminished. Difficult as it is to imagine, and just as unpleasant, Egypt could slide into becoming the next Iran if it pursues a nuclear scenario that is undergirded by religious convictions rather than political ones.