A letter to Egypt’s next president – from 2 IDF reservists

ByDANIEL SUHAREANU, AVI NAVE
May 23, 2012 21:47

The Middle East needs a strong Egypt, one that will broker peace instead of war.




A POSTER of Egyptian presidential candidate Sabahy

Poster of Egypt presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy 370. (photo credit:Nat Frank)

Mr. President,

Undeniably, you have a momentous undertaking ahead of you. Your economy is on the verge of collapse. Millions of your citizens are jobless, lack security and any sense of hope for the future. Egypt’s Coptic Christian community continues to wither away at the hands of religious extremists.

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Moreover, after three decades of peace, the historic treaty between our two nations is under threat, shaking the very foundation of stability in our region.

Albert Einstein, perhaps the greatest mind in modern history, once said, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Watching Egypt’s new leaders confront these challenges, we fear that Einstein’s logic has fallen on deaf ears.

During campaign rallies, you referred to Israel as an “adversary” or “enemy,” to uproarious applause from potential voters. Debates turned into Israel-bashing competitions over who was more determined to review, alter or abrogate relations between our two nations. Meanwhile, journalists, lawmakers and religious clerics across the country continue to promote the same hateful conspiracy theories that were rampant under Mubarak’s rule.

At a time when Egyptians are in desperate need of inspiration, their leaders have chosen to invest in populism, demagoguery and propaganda. It’s a familiar strategy in the Middle East. As we speak, Bashar Assad continues to stake the legitimacy of his murderous regime on his hatred for the Jewish state. Your predecessor also vainly attempted to scapegoat Israel in order to divert attention from his own failures.

By fueling the flames of hatred, you condemn both of our peoples to an ominous future. After years of neglect, the sands of the Sinai Peninsula have become fertile ground for religious extremism and terrorist activity, fomented by those who seek to drive a wedge between us. In August 2011, those extremists nearly succeeded. In penetrating our border and killing eight of our citizens, they caused a crisis that culminated in a brazen assault on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.

Make no mistake; these terrorists remain determined to dismantle our decades-strong peace treaty. They have turned the Sinai into a launching pad for rockets aimed at our cities. Tell us, what will happen when a terrorist rocket strikes a hotel in Eilat? This nightmare scenario could materialize at any moment – and bring our two nations to the brink of war.

Despite this terrifying possibility, Egyptian leaders continue to incite their people using violent rhetoric.

Even as they keep emergency rule firmly in place, your generals continuously call to “break the legs” and “cut out the tongues” of foreign states in the region – a clear reference to Israel.

While most Egyptians are too young to have experienced the brutal wars with Israel, their aging leadership would be wise to remember: It was the 30 years of conflict that drove our leaders to sign the Camp David accords. It was the tens of thousands of dead Egyptians and Israelis that prompted Anwar Sadat to fly to Jerusalem and address the Knesset. It was the billions of dollars wasted on our many wars which compelled our leaders to make peace and secure a better future for our two peoples.

Today, Egypt is once again at a historic crossroads. While the road ahead is uncertain, one thing is clear: Incitement against Israel will not create jobs for Egyptian youth. It will not build roads and infrastructure in the Nile Delta. It will not re-assimilate the citizens of the Sinai Peninsula back into society.

We implore you, don’t allow Egyptian society to descend into further chaos and instability. The narrative regarding Israel must be reformed. The inherent value of the peace between our two nations cannot be underestimated, and a future confrontation with the Jewish state is not in the best interests of your people. Rather, Israel has become a crucial security partner for Egypt and acts as a natural ally to counter the influence of those nations who seek to assert their influence over the entire region.

The Middle East needs a strong Egypt, one that will broker peace instead of war. The Egyptian people deserve a leader who will unlock their vast potential, reinvigorate their sense of hope, and guide them down the path to prosperity. Before you take your oath of office, it would be wise to take a good, hard look in the mirror.

Will you be that leader?

Sincerely,

Daniel Suhareanu and Avi Nave

The writers are reserve soldiers in elite combat units in the Israel Defense Forces.

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