Israel must adjust its policy to Egypt's changing reality
The first round of elections to Egypt's parliament, which begins today, is the first democratic outcome of the revolution. As such, it presents a historic challenge to the Egyptian people.
The first round of elections to Egypt's parliament, which begins today, is the first democratic outcome of the revolution. As such, it presents a historic challenge to the Egyptian people, who had been educated for decades to see elections as an asset of their rulers rather than a whip in the people's hands or a means to build the desired regime.
Egypt's citizens need no lessons in democracy or liberal values. Before the Free Officers Revolution, which saddled Egypt with a number of dictators, that country knew what broad public discourse and liberal values were, and its thinkers knew how to fight based on values, not only politics. The 2011 revolution hinges on this historical awareness, which now draws its strength from the recognition of the people's power and the need to bend the regime, any regime, to their will. Egypt's citizens deserve congratulations for this success and all assistance as they pave their way to a democratic state to be molded according to their will.
Of course, this great transformation is also a source of great concern. Will the parliamentary elections go smoothly until the presidential elections in June? Won't the defeat of many movements in the elections generate violent struggles? How will the new regime put together an economic program that will meet Egypt's urgent needs and prevent it from collapsing even before it embarks on its new path? And what will the new regime's foreign policy be?
These are legitimate concerns, but it's too early and unnecessary to break out the horror scenarios. In Israel and elsewhere, anxiety has developed over the Muslim Brotherhood, but we must remember that Egyptian secular leftist movements also see Israel as a menace, an occupier and a representative of colonialism. The attitude to Israel does not necessarily depend on a religious perception, but rather the understanding that Israel has caused injustice to the people it has occupied.
Thus, for now, it would be deceptive to say the Muslim Brotherhood or Islam in general were responsible for the change in attitude toward Israel. Israel must recognize that the region's political and social reality is changing. It would do well to consider how to adjust its policy to the change instead of lamenting the change itself.