While headlines trumpet "An end to the boycott, Israelis return to Turkey," to the satisfaction of many in Israel, a travel advisory has been issued urging Israelis to leave Sinai at once and refrain from visiting the area. This is a routine occurrence. Since the second intifada, just before every holiday season, the anti-terror office communicates a warning that was made even more severe in 2005, when the threat of kidnappings emerged. Perhaps the powers that be do not want Israelis traveling to Sinai?
One may point to the fact that there were terrorist attacks in Sinai - Taba in 2004, Dahab in 2006 - but there were also attacks in Turkey by Al-Qaida, including one bombing of a synagogue. Nonetheless, even when travel advisories were issued for Turkey, they were temporary and limited to certain areas rather than the entire country.
One could pose the argument, as did the head of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau, Nitzan Nuriel, who said "The warnings decipher the intelligence picture into recommendations." But even the anti-terror office acknowledges that these warnings are not new and that they are related to Hezbollah's long-standing desire to avenge the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh.
Lo and behold, alongside reports of the urgent travel advisory imploring anyone vacationing in Sinai to leave immediately, are reports quoting defense officials who cite the exact same motive - revenge for the Mughniyeh killing - behind Hezbollah's efforts to harm Israelis in Europe. Yet, what a surprise, no defense official has even broached the possibility of calling on Israelis to avoid traveling to Europe, let alone urging those already there to leave immediately.
Is Sinai really more dangerous? It seems the warnings apply to places where Israel feels it is strong enough to issue advisories. At a time when Israel is making noise about its expectations of Arab states to normalize relations, its citizens are warned against taking their own steps toward normalizing ties with a friendly neighbor with whom it has a stable peace treaty.
One may protest: This is our idea of a peace treaty? This is normalization? We thought we would travel to the pyramids and they would come to Tel Aviv, and we'd all eat hummus together. What have we got instead? A cold peace. After all, Egyptian tourists and intellectuals do not come here. And Egyptian school textbooks still speak badly about us. Is this really peace?
It seems the real danger in Sinai is that the State of Israel will emerge as a sucker. We're angry at the Egyptians because, even though we gave back the entire Sinai, they did not become our best friends. We do not factor in their efforts in mediating between us and the Palestinians, nor do we put much faith in the security efforts they make in safeguarding our tourists in Sinai.
Israel arrogantly believes it is giving more than it is receiving in its relationship with Egypt. Thus it has no problem in placing a distance between its citizens and Egypt.
Driven by fear of being played for suckers, we are losing a direct link that contributes to building mutual ties and warmer relations. We are squandering another reason why they would want to remain on good terms with us. Most of all, we are losing a tourist site more magnificent, comfortable and wondrous than anything Turkey has to offer, not to mention cheaper.
This is not irreversible. Israel can begin conducting normalized relations with Egypt. It can boost cooperation to ensure the safety of visitors to Sinai and to engineer an immediate evacuation in the event that, God forbid, something happens . This would allow Israelis to return to their perfect vacation, a vacation that is right here, just beyond the border of peace.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now