An Israeli Messianic Jew Weighs in on the Egyptian Uprising
Here is a riddle for you: What is black and white and read all over. A news paper of course. The joke works much better when you can’t read the word read. And just as this joke will soon be obsolete as the next generation may ask, “What’s a newspaper?” while they check their phones and tablets for the latest news, revolutions are simply not what they used to be.
Here is another riddle: What is worse than a Dictatorship? An Islamic Extremist Theocracy.
As I have listened intently to the news for the past few days, you cannot ignore the excitement in many that Egypt, a dictatorship since 1952, is on the verge of embracing western-style democracy. I have also listened to the voices of caution. The extremists will try to highjack this revolution. This thing could go in two different directions, and Israelis would prefer the status quo.
Not because we don’t want Egyptians to enjoy the basic freedoms that we have here in Israel. It is more that we have had a standing peace treaty with the largest Arab nation in the world for more than thirty years—and that, after four wars (we won them all, by the way—just say’n)— we are a little nervous about a new regime.
In all the jubilation and bravado, let’s not forget that the Iranian revolution in 1979, that exiled the Shah of Iran, began the same way—as a popular uprising—not an Islamic one (according to Middle Eastern expert, K.T. McFarlan). She says that without American support, the new leadership quickly fell and the extremists immediately filled the vacuum. Now Iran is notorious for her secret police, hidden bugs, persecution of women, arrests without proof, forced confessions, lack of freedom, intimidated media, rigged elections and religious oppression—oh, and constant calls for the destruction of Israel!
Egypt is in even worse shape in terms of transitioning to a democratic government. Most of these demonstrations were organized by faceless, nameless bloggers who called people to the streets. While these may not be the stereotypical bloggers, in their pajamas, living in their mothers’ basements, neither do they appear to be ready to govern this massive country. They have no organization, no clear leader and no plan.
The man who has emerged as a possible new leader, Mohamed El Baradei, has ties to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Most of us remember El Baradei as the UN weapons inspector during the second gulf war and many assume that he has western-style values. Who knows for sure? What I do know is that as of this morning the powerful and growing Muslim Brotherhood has thrown their support behind him—but at what price?
There has been a plethora of pundits including former Bush Whitehouse Spokeswoman Dana Perino, telling us we have nothing to fear when it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood. Frank Gaffney, a former assistant secretary of defense disagrees: “One reason we might be misperceiving the MB as no threat is because a prime source of information about such matters is the Muslim Brotherhood itself.”[i] This is Middle Eastern Deception 101. Arafat was the master at saying, “Peace with Israel,” in English, while proclaiming, “Death to Israel” in Arabic.
For instance, the MB’s website in English focuses on freedom, while the Arabic site has their logo prominently seen with two swords and the words in Arabic make ready. On Fox News this morning the same Frank Gaffney explained that the group in Israel which aligns itself with the MB is Hamas, a terrorist organization calling for my nation’s destruction. There can be no doubt. The MB believes that Allah’s will is the world domination of Islam.
“But Ron, the people on the streets are not extremists.” Right, but don’t think for a minute that the highly organized leadership of the MB is not sitting on the sidelines devising a plan to fill the power void as soon as it is available.
Can you name one Middle Eastern country that has thrown out their dictator to become a democracy? I can: Iraq. But the only reason Iraq is not an Islamic Theocracy today is because American troops beat down the insurgence. Without that, the religious nuts would be ruling through fear and manipulation in Iraq as they do in Iran, creating an environment far worse than when Saddam Hussein was the dictator.
Let’s not forget that the uprising in Egypt in 1952 that dethroned a monarchy, created a dictatorship. It should be noted that it was the military, not the people, who overthrew the government. Nevertheless, the people didn’t win.
Not every uprising is led by George Washington and John Adams. Not every revolution is planned for years by already functioning governments, as with the colonies. In fact, the Egyptian uprising may be the least organized, spontaneous uprising in history. Who saw this coming? When the US defeated the British, we already had diplomatic ties with other countries. When Israel became a nation, she already had a Prime Minister in waiting and a cabinet. She had been largely self-ruled for decades.
And this is our concern in Israel. We want Egyptians to be free. But we don’t want an Islamic Theocracy on our border. It is enough that Lebanon is being taken over by the Iranian backed Hezbollah, essentially putting Iran on our northern border.
Corruption verses Fanaticism
Several years ago, the Palestinians, in an effort to send a message to the horribly corrupt Palestinian Authority, actually voted in to power Hamas, a terrorist organization. Why would they do that? Because before Islamic fanatics gain control over the people and their lives (what they can wear, what entertainment is appropriate, beheadings for adultery, honor killings, etc.) they present themselves to the people as being for the people. Hamas portrayed themselves to other Palestinians not like the corrupt Palestinian Authority, but as people like them, simple, family people, with orphanages, outreach programs, humanitarian aid programs and medical supplies. Of course, now that they are in power, they steal humanitarian aid from the people.[ii] [iii] This is just what the Muslim Brotherhood has planned for Egypt. They will present themselves as political (just like Hezbollah in Lebanon) and then seek to take over. Mark my words.
You may wonder, why is there is not a third option—true democracy and civil rights? In this part of the world a Martin Luther King would be shot or exiled before he ever got any traction. A non-violent movement would be met with quick violence—in the name of Allah, justified by some sheik. Keep in mind, the American revolution was not a non-violent struggle. As Nathan Hale, the American patriot who was captured by the British said before his death, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
My point is that Mubarak’s military backed regime is willing to shed blood to maintain power. The Islamic extremists are often eager to give their lives as martyrs. In an environment like that, it is very difficult to establish a true democracy. And by democracy, I don’t mean merely the will of the majority, but the establishment of civil rights for the minority. Again, without American military intervention, the present democracy in Iraq never would have held.
It seems that no matter how many suicide bombers detonate their explosives, ‘collaborators’ are beheaded or leaders killed (like the president of Lebanon by Hezbollah or Anwar Sadat in Egypt), the West refuses to see Islamic extremism in its true light. We refuse to believe that it is as widespread as it is.
One must understand that many of these Pakistani, Egyptian, Saudi or Iranian youth have been sold on the lie of how evil America is from the time they were born. They are told time and again that the goal of America and the West is to kill Muslims. This is what a large segment of Middle Eastern Muslim youth believe.
So when Al Qaeda brought down one of the greatest symbols in America—the World Trade Center (Finances) and flew another plane into the Pentagon (Military Power), it was like the Jets beating the Colts in Super Bowl III or Mike Tyson getting knocked out by Buster Douglas…it was the pride we felt when our college kids beat the Soviet Union in “The Miracle on Ice.”
It is hard for the Western mind to understand how Muslim youth could cheer the murdering of so many people. But if they truly believe that America’s goal is to kill all Muslims, then it is understandable. Maajid Nawaz, a former radical, explained recently on Sixty Minutes how extremists use this narrative—America wants to kill Muslims—as a tool to recruit Muslim youth to radical organizations—and it works!
Yes, it is true that the mobs in the streets of Egypt are not radicals, but simply people fed up with a corrupt government that steals their profits and keeps them impoverished. But don’t think for a minute that the majority love America or want to maintain peace with Israel. I don’t know who their model for the future is, but it is not America.
How it all began
A few weeks ago a frustrated young man in Tunisia, with a university degree, but no job, took to selling fruit on the streets—without a license. The authorities confiscated his fruit. In frustration he set himself on fire! That fire spread (metaphorically) all the way to Egypt, but not before the Tunisian people sent their corrupt president running into exile.
However, because of the lack of any real alternative, “national security experts said extremist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) [the North Africa version of AL Qaeda] could capitalize on the disorder to find a new foothold.” The AQIM released a video last week seeking to add fuel to the flames of disgruntlement in Tunisia telling the rioters to continue “and they’re trying to recruit Tunisia’s disaffected youth for their Jihad against America.”[iv]
“Send us your sons so that they receive military training…We offer our support and our comfort and our help in your distress and your uprising…we will sooner or later retaliate against your torturers and their masters” said the video.
Islamic extremists are masters of manipulation, as they seek to identify with the largely secular middle class of Tunisia. In truth, they have very little in common with these people, but they will pretend that Tunisia’s struggle against tyranny is their struggle, so in the end, they can become the tyrants. And sadly, in this part of the world, the strategy works. (see Lebanon, Iran…check back in a few weeks for Tunisia).
Look who is saying what…
“Saudi Arabia slammed protesters in Egypt as ‘infiltrators’ who seek to destabilize their country, and a top Palestinian official affirmed ‘solidarity’ with Egypt [present government] on Saturday, while an Iranian official called on Egypt to ‘abide by the rightful demands of the nation’ and avoid violent reactions.”[v]
I would encourage you to read this full article (http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/01/29-1) to help you understand the Middle East. Both the Saudis and Egyptians are referring to the protestors as infiltrators. This quote from the same article is classic: “Mubarak added that Egypt will ‘deter anyone who tries to exploit the freedom of (the) Egyptian people and will not allow anyone to lure those groups or use them to achieve suspicious and strange agendas.’”
He would have us believe that the demonstrators are not even Egyptian. If they are not Egyptian, then who are they? Of course, these are dictators who love power and will say anything and everything hoping that the simple people of their country, people whom they love to keep simple, will believe them.
Saudi Arabia is not a secular nation like Egypt, but is a dictatorship/monarchy and the royal family, numbering in the thousands, lives high on the hog while the common man suffers. With a population of over 20 million, the Family of Saud, the ruling family, is terrified by what they see in Tunisia and Egypt. They understand all too well, especially considering that they already are an Islamic fundamentalist state and the birthplace of Al Qaeda, that one small spark could mark their demise.
The Palestinian Authority is also standing with Mubarak. While technically the President is elected, Arafat created a corrupt system in which not only he got rich (he died with 900 million in the bank) but so did his cronies, who became contractors as the region developed economically. They too would hate to see a popular uprising against them, after already tasting defeat when the people gave over parliament to Hamas.
But then there is Iran—a beacon of freedom—calling on Egypt to “abide by the rightful demands of the nation.” Why would Iran, an oppressive nation itself which just crushed its own uprising, align itself with the people of Egypt? Clearly in hopes that Egypt will have an Islamic takeover.
Look at what some of the religious leaders in Iran think about this: “The ‘aftershock’ of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution was now rocking Egypt and other Arab states, a senior ayatollah said in the Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran.
“‘I herewith proclaim to those (Western leaders) who still do not want to see the realities that the political axis of the new Middle East will soon be Islamic rulership and a democracy based on religion,’ Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said.
‘All these protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Yemen are inspired by Iran’s Islamic revolution and these countries are de facto rocked by the aftershock of the Iranian revolution,’ the ultra-conservative cleric added.”[vi]
On a practical level this could serve to usher in true freedom. But only if America and other influential western nations take a leading role in the transition of government and keep the radicals sidelined. Unlike Iraq, Egypt already has a military that can deal with an insurgency, but they must guard against tricky political maneuvering like we saw with Hamas in Israel. The MB is not as strong as the Egyptian army, unlike in Lebanon, were Hezbollah far outweighs the Lebanese army.
Sadly, most Egyptians presently perceive the US as siding with the dictator. I do not know how welcomed they will be to come in and help. But without western help, the fanatics stand a vastly higher chance of stealing the country. And that would be the end of 30 plus years of peace with Israel, and another good reason why we will not lay down our nuclear weapons.
While my great hope as an Israeli is for a new Middle East, where democracy and civil rights are enjoyed by all, forgive me if I am skeptical. It is more likely that we are heading to an Islamic region that unites these nations, possibly along with Russia, according to Ezekiel 38 and 39. In that passage, these nations come together to destroy Israel. They gather on her mountains and prepare to attack her, after her restoration (1948, 67).
The good news for those of us here in Israel, is that the Lord will defeat them. They will turn against each other in the midst of an earthquake. Israel will be victorious without having fired a shot.
However, despite the promise of victory, I am still compelled to pray for Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan and other Arab nations, that true freedom, democracy and civil rights, as well as a great awakening would be embraced. Could it be that the outcome depends on our prayers?
[ii] Hamas Hijacks Humanitarian Aid, by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, Arutz 7, 1/21/09 “Hamas is hijacking some of the 6,000 tons of international humanitarian aid that have entered Gaza this week for the poor, and instead is using the goods to fund its own support system, the Israeli government charged.”
[iv] American Conservative Daily, And they’re trying to recruit Tunisia’s disaffected youth for their Jihad against the America, 1/18/11