Atlantic Council Middle East Published Articles

Israel’s Gaza Escalation Puts the Question to Brotherhood Rhetoric

Egypt Prime Minster Visits Hospital in Gaza

From my recent article on EgyptSource:

Yet from my perspective in Egypt, I wonder if the Israeli motivation is to test Cairo more than Hamas. Of course, domestic factors always outweigh international ones. But at the least Tel Aviv may wish to discover what sort of president it faces in Mohamed Morsy, if not seek to discredit him altogether.

Muslim Brotherhood rhetoric during the Mubarak administration was always to harshly condemn the state’s refusal to take decisive action against Israel vis-à-vis Palestine. Yet Mubarak was not shy to issue strong verbal condemnations against Israel, nor did he refrain from withdrawing his ambassador to Tel Aviv. Morsy’s government, to prove consistent, must do more.

Morsy is not the Muslim Brotherhood, officially, which allows for an undefined relation of influence and agency:

Interestingly, the Muslim Brotherhood called for massive protests on Friday, as did every other political force rallying behind Gaza. Opposition to Israel has always been a hallmark of every Egyptian political movement, but it is ironic to see liberal parties now in condemnation of an Islamist presidency’s failure to stand up to Israel. But the Brotherhood is not falling behind: It has called for cutting all ties.

Do they mean it? How much effort will they pour into protest mobilization? Are they forcing the hand of the president? Or are they simply covering themselves should Morsi’s obliged inaction have to be explained away later?

But maybe Israel is seeking more definition:

Perhaps Israel is nudging at one of these contradictions. Morsi and the Brotherhood built their power base on anti-Israeli rhetoric. Yet seeking the approval of the international community and commercial interests also pledged to respect all treaties. There is little wiggle room. If they imitate Mubarak’s outrage they risk losing the people. If they take decisive steps against Tel Aviv they risk losing credibility. Such are the demands of leadership; can they step up to the plate?

The full text notes also the domestic considerations of Israel’s actions, and notes as well certain conspiratorial factors involved. Please click here to read the article at EgyptSource.

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Friday Prayers for Egypt: Gaza


Above all, bring peace to Israel and Palestine. Stop rockets, stop killing, stop assassinations, and stop injustice. Allow all sides to argue over who most deserves these accusations, but draw them to a halt.

As for Egypt, where these arguments are few, give wisdom to the president and political leadership on how to intervene for peace. May he stand with victims and against oppression. Help him to mediate between his allies in Hamas and his oft-political targets in Tel Aviv. Help him to encourage the Americans to play a positive role. But guide him to the transcendence of politics to the resolution of conflict. May he do what is right, whatever that is.

Egypt needs unity and solidarity, God, but caution the people about rallying against an enemy. Bless all those who express concern for innocent Palestinians, and who seek to condemn the asymmetry of the strife. But for those who are angling for political gain, cause their efforts to come to naught. Grant Egyptians legitimate outrage over what has befallen their neighbors, and discernment to weigh injustice against propaganda.

And as Israel and Palestine confront their internal issues, limit the repercussions from spilling over into Egypt. Guard the border, God, and keep militancy from spreading to Sinai and beyond. For would-be militants already here, honor their sense of resistance and sacrifice. But direct their devotion to the cause of peace and justice, not to arms and invectives. May they harm no lives, be they Egyptian, Israeli, or their own.

Beat swords into plowshares, God. May those who love you lead the way.