The Egyptian liberal writer Dalia Ziada forcefully condemned Egyptians who celebrated and justified the murders of three Israeli soldiers in early June and issued a full-throttle defense of Israel in two Facebook posts.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) first located and translated Ziada’s writing.
On June 7, Ziada wrote, "Every demagogue today who tries to justify celebrating the killing of Israeli soldiers on our borders by labeling them as Jews, or who believes according to his sick perspective that it as permissible to kill them even if they were peaceful and had not committed any aggression against them, is in reality either a terrorist or a potential terrorist.”
She added “Just as they targeted their Jewish neighbor on the border, they will, as soon as they have the opportunity, target their Christian neighbor on their street. It is they who harass and assault women and slaughter them in broad daylight if they refuse to marry them."
"Do not encourage or cheer for extremism. The true Muslim is he who 'would not harm people by his tongue and his hand' (and here we are talking about all creatures to whom the description of people on Earth applies, not only Muslims).”
The cold peace between Egypt and Israel
Egypt and Israel reached a peace agreement and diplomatic relations in 1979. However, according to many Israeli analysts, large swathes of Egypt's population remain deeply hostile toward Israel. There exists a “cold peace” from the side of Egyptian society toward the Jewish state. Egyptian state-sponsored hostility increased toward Israel under the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Mohamed Morsi between 2023-2013.
Egypt’s President Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has fostered greater cooperation with Israel after he and his movement ousted Morsi, argue Israeli defense and security experts.
Defending Israel in Egypt is a sign of great courage due to widespread anti-Israel sentiments and potent currents of antisemitism in the nation.
"To those who are glorifying and justifying the attack carried out by an Egyptian security officer against Israeli soldiers yesterday, who exactly are you? What is your precise interest in doing so? Anyone who truly loves Egypt cannot possibly be joyful or celebrate such an event, nor consider it a heroic act in any way, “wrote Ziada on Facebook on June 4. Her Facebook page has 30,000 followers.
Ziada said, "Israel is not an enemy of Egypt... it has stood by Egypt's side in its most critical times."
MEMRI wrote, “In response to the widespread celebration on social media of the killing of three Israeli soldiers on June 3, 2023, by an Egyptian policeman – a terror attack hailed as heroic and justified because the victims were Jewish and/or Israeli – Dalia Ziada, an Egyptian writer who is executive director of MEEM Center for Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean Studies, strongly voiced her opposition to this trend.”
Ziada wrote about the murders of the three Israeli soldiers that "A little bit of reason... This is not a match between [top Egyptian football clubs] Al Ahly and Al-Zamalek. It's about Egypt's national security."
"First: What heroic act is there in trespassing the borders of a neighboring country with which we have a peace treaty and years of security cooperation, as well as countless economic interests? What has been achieved by killing soldiers who were stationed at their own borders, in a treacherous act that lacks any logical justification, except the desire of those behind it (using the security officer as a pawn) to ignite conflict between Egypt and Israel or, at the very least, to create a rift in their excellent relationship?”
Ziada added, “Or perhaps the perpetrator is driven by extremist religious motives, such as those calling for the killing of Jews based on their religious identity, which is completely detrimental to Egypt and contradicts the principles of the Egyptian state.”
She continued: "Second: This incident could cause significant harm to Egypt's interests if it is not promptly addressed and contained by the Egyptian and Israeli authorities. The best way, in my opinion, to contain it is through transparent investigations supervised by both parties, along with taking all necessary measures to prevent its recurrence. This is exactly what the Egyptian defense minister promised his Israeli counterpart in a phone call shortly after the incident."
Ziada’s Facebook posts provide a rare view into the tiny courtyard of Egyptian intellectuals and writers who counter the demonization of the Jewish state. The Jerusalem Post is quoting most of the MEMRI-translated sections of her Facebook posts due to the uniqueness of her commentary in the public discourse of the Middle East’s largest Arab nation.
Egypt faces geopolitical challenges
Ziada said that the Egypt-Israel cooperation "Has been one of the most important factors in Egypt's success in overcoming a very critical phase in its history. If you don't understand how Egypt's interests could be affected by an incident like this, take a look at the map: From the West, the situation is already volatile in Libya, and our relationship with Libya is deteriorating day by day due to the political division and Egypt's alignment with one side against the other.”
She continued that “From the south, the ongoing war in Sudan is taking its toll on Egypt's economy and burdening Egypt with troubles that will greatly escalate its suffering in the coming period. From the east, there is Gaza and its never-ending problems."
"Not to mention the constant threat posed by conflicts in these three locations to Egypt's national security. In light of all this, Egypt cannot afford to engage in a security or political battle (which is unnecessary and illogical) with Israel. The unprecedented cooperation between Egypt and Israel in recent years has been one of the most important factors in Egypt's success in overcoming a very critical phase in its history, amidst combating terrorism and facing immense economic challenges.”
She wrote that “During the period between 2013 and 2015, when Hamas elements infiltrated Sinai and later pledged allegiance to ISIS, Israeli forces were fighting alongside Egyptian forces against terrorism in Sinai.”
The US and the EU have designated Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, a foreign terrorist organization.
Ziada noted that "At a time when the entire world stood against Egypt after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood, and as there were calls for imposing diplomatic and economic sanctions on Egypt, Israeli officials defended the modern Egyptian state in international forums. I personally heard them clearly say, 'The security and stability of Egypt under Sisi are necessary for the security and stability of Israel.'"
The Egyptian writer also addressed the growing economic cooperation between Israel and Egypt in the energy sector.
According to Ziada, "[This is] not to mention the economic cooperation between Egypt and Israel in discovering and extracting gas in the Eastern Mediterranean and selling it to Europe and Asia. Israel chose to cooperate with Egypt in this matter over any other country in the Mediterranean basin, giving Egypt the ability to fulfill its dream of becoming an energy hub in the region, despite all the geopolitical complications and maritime border disputes."