Eye on the Middle East Apr/May 1999

Egyptian Foreign Minister Moussa recently sent the Israelis a message meant to influence voters to dump Prime Minister Netanyahu in favor of, in their view, a more flexible candidate. Moussa urged Israelis to embrace a Palestinian state as the crowning step in the peace process and as a boost in security for the State of Israel. Egypt’s Foreign Minister said, “Let no one give credence to the claim that a Palestinian state is a threat to the security of Israel.”

While Foreign Minister Moussa was telegraphing his message of conciliation and encouraging the birth of a Palestinian state, Egypt’s press agencies were sending other signals. After the Israel Government Press Office released a special report documenting anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the official Egyptian press, Egyptian officials denied that the media was anti-Semitic. However, press quotations that are on record tell quite another story. The Egyptian daily, Al-Ahram, published a story last December from which we quote.

“Has there been any change at all in the personality of the fanatic Jew, as it has come to be known and described in the literature and heritage of most of the nations of the world? That is to say, has there been any development of his character traits after his state has been established and he has obtained international influence? For example, is there any difference between Netanyahu’s traits, when he is negotiating with the Palestinians, Lebanese and the Syrians, and those of the money-lender from the play ‘The Merchant of Venice’?” (December 8, 1998).

These words followed an equally inflammatory declaration a month earlier: “The Jews have been behind all of the wars and their goal was corruption and destruction. This is their means of getting rich quick after wars” (November 14, 1998).

In alleging that Jewish manipulators have been behind “all of the wars,” Egyptian journalists had a colossal lapse of memory. What about the five wars launched against Israel by its Arab neighbors? Or don’t they count? In these cases, if the goals Jews had in mind were “corruption and destruction,” they would have been guilty of fashioning their own coffin.

Actually, these mixed signals forcefully illustrate the need for any Israeli administration to proceed with extreme caution before sanctioning a state that may, after all, be a set-up for yet other attempts to wipe Israel off the face of the map.

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