Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why do they hate us?

Delayed reforms, soaring unemployment, and constant search for scapegoat led young generation 'that has never known war' to turn its frustration toward State of Israel

Tomer Velmer
09.11.11, 00:28 / Israel News

During the 32-year peace treaty with Egypt, the relations between Jerusalem and Cairo have seen their ups and downs. What used to be called "cold peace" turned extremely hot over the weekend, when hundreds of Egyptian protesters stormed the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, demolishing the security wall and replacing the Israeli flag with an Egyptian one.

Though the crisis ended fairly well, Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a senior research fellow at the Begin- Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University explains that these are the sort of events that happen when peace is forged between governments, not people. "The peace between Israel and Egypt was illegitimate to begin with in the eyes of the Egyptian people. It was an agreement with the Zionists, and the majority of the Egyptian population is religious, and does not believe the State of Israel has the right to exist," Dr. Kedar noted.

"Anwar Sadat, who was a dictator, decided to act against the will of his people when he signed the peace treaty, and was assassinated as a result," Kedar said, adding that "now, when the Mubarak regime is also out of the way, they believe the peace treaty can finally be canceled."

'Peace treaty against will of the people.' Cairo, on Friday (Photo: Reuters)
'Peace treaty against will of the people.' Cairo, on Friday (Photo: Reuters)

More importantly, Mubarak's ousting has yet to bring about the desired outcome. "When the Egyptians look at the results of the revolution, they realize that its goals have not been achieved.

"Since Mubarak was deposed, the unemployment has doubled, and so has the frustration among Egyptians, who are desperately looking for a scapegoat," Dr. Kedar noted.

Riots fueled by frustration (Photo: AP)
Riots fueled by frustration (Photo: AP)

"The tourism industry suffered a great loss, and the Egyptian economy has plummeted. We are looking at an anarchic situation, and so the Egyptian public turns its anger toward Israel; however, it may soon redirect its frustration toward the military, which has failed to provide socioeconomic solutions," he added.

'Military clash unlikely'

Professor Eyal Zisser from the Middle East Department at Tel Aviv University explains that the new generation in Egypt has also played a role in the radicalization of the public.

"The peace treaty was signed in the 70s, when Egypt was recuperating from the Yom Kippur War. Unlike today's generation, the older generation suffered many wars, and therefore supported the peace process," he said.

Despite the hatred toward Israel, Prof. Zisser doesn’t foresee a military clash with Egypt, even if public pressure continues to grow.

"We are heading toward a future of uncertainty, until the army succeeds in stabilizing the country and establishing a regime. The Egyptian army is too preoccupied with instilling order, and has no time or willingness to prepare for war," he said.

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