Poster of Egypt presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy 370.
(photo credit: Nat Frank)
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
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
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
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
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
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
Daniel Suhareanu and Avi Nave The writers are reserve
soldiers in elite combat units in the Israel Defense Forces.