Analysis: Making Israel the source of all trouble, again

Instability in Egypt? Not the new gov't’s fault. It is Israel. Bloody crackdown in Syria? Not the work of the ruthless Bashar Assad. It is all Israel.

June 15, 2011 01:45
3 minute read.
Pro-democracy protesters gather in Tahrir Square

Pro-democracy protesters gather in Tahrir Square 311 Reut. (photo credit: Peter Andrews / Reuters)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Ilan Grapel might not be the most responsible person by traveling to post-revolution Egypt and raising suspicions with inquisitive questions and visits to various tense locations – but that does not automatically make him a spy for the Mossad.

His Facebook page makes this quite clear.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Besides having writing in Hebrew, it has pictures from his service in the IDF Paratroopers Brigade, including a graphic photo of a hole in his shoulder from the Hezbollah bullet that hit him during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Azzam Azzam offers advice for accused spy in Egypt
The spy ‘scandal’ that so obviously isn’t

The questions are, then: Why would Egypt decide to turn the American-Israeli Emory University law student into a spy? What could the current Egyptian government gain?

The concern in Israel is that Grapel’s arrest is indicative of the negative trend that has taken control of Cairo and has led to a deterioration in ties with Israel, but also a warming in ties between Egypt and Iran, as well as with Hamas – as demonstrated by the recent decision to open the Rafah Crossing and host senior Hamas officials in Cairo.

The understanding in Israel is that the current Egyptian government is trying to blame Israel for the ongoing instability in the country and the violence that left demonstrators dead and injured. The articles that appeared on the front pages of Egypt’s newspapers made this clear.

The government in Egypt is also threatened by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered a strong political opponent in the elections that are scheduled to be held by the end of the year.

By arresting an Israeli “spy,” the government is showing that it, too, is distancing itself from Israel and aligning itself with the more radical Islamic elements.

This is likely the same reason that it has warmed-up its ties with Iran, allowing its warships to cross recently through the Suez Canal for the first time since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

This does not mean Egypt will immediately annul the peace treaty with Israel – which was beneficial for Cairo in establishing ties with the Unites States – but in the long-term, Israel needs to be concerned.

The more immediate problem is how to get Grapel released.

The problem is that Egypt’s security and intelligence agencies have concocted such a story that it will be difficult to justify his sudden release. If he is released quickly, the Egyptian public will legitimately question the arrest altogether, and it will put the intelligence services – already hated due to their history under Hosni Mubarak – under even greater suspicion.

This is not the first time Egypt has fabricated stories about the Mossad for political purposes. Most memorable was the story of the shark that Mossad had “sent” to the Sinai coast to attack tourists and ruin the tourist season.

Other cases have included Azzam Azzam and Ouda Tarabin, a Bedouin who has been sitting in an Egyptian jail for over a decade.

The “Israel card” is commonly used throughout the Arab world as a way to shift blame and attention away from domestic troubles.

The instability in Egypt? Not the new government’s fault. It is Israel. The violent and bloody crackdown in Syria? Not the work of the ruthless Bashar Assad. It is all Israel.

Without knowing, Ilan Grapel walked right into the middle of it all.

He is an innocent tourist, but the question of how he will be released is not a simple one. In the meantime, Grapel’s luck is that he entered Egypt using his US passport, and that the State Department, and not the Israeli Foreign Ministry, is leading efforts to secure his release.

Related Content

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
August 31, 2014
Prime minister to Channel 1: I’ll be running again in next election

By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN