Mohammed Morsi
Illustration Photo by Eran Wolkowski
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I understand that after the election of Mohammed Morsi as president of Egypt, serious and justified apprehension awoke in Jerusalem.

“What do you mean, ‘awoke’? How can something that emerged from sleep 60-something years ago ‘awake’? The apprehension always exists in Jerusalem, and with reserves, so no special preparations were needed.”

Still, the Muslim Brotherhood ruling Egypt − didn’t that heighten the apprehension?

“The apprehension, no; the hysteria, yes. Though there were some who immediately saw the positive side. As with every negative development, it only proves that the Arabs are the same Arabs and the sea is the same sea. The real concern only arose later.”

You mean, the apprehension that the peace treaty would be violated?

“No. The real concern awoke upon the awakening of the apprehension that this Mohammed Morsi will use all the shticks we know from the Palestinians: the pretense that you are ‘moderate,’ ‘pragmatic,’ bespectacled, suit-and-tied and all the other tricks that no longer impress anyone. They are completely transparent. We’re dealing with a bunch of amateurs.

“Look, even when this Morsi tried to adopt the name of a popular singer from The Smiths band, in order to butter up the West, he botched it. ‘Morrissey,’ my foot. He’s all Mohammed.”

I understand that immediately after his election the forum of eight met urgently.

“As a matter of fact, they didn’t. But cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser heard the Arab affairs commentator Ehud Yaari on television.”

And?

“That was all.”

There was no discussion?

“What’s to discuss? It wasn’t until the next day, when they heard from Hauser about the seriousness of the situation, that concern gave way to astonishment.

“Especially after the military secretary and the director of Military Intelligence hurried to update the defense minister and the prime minister, informed them that the new president belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood and explained that over the weekend they would read the newspapers and find out who the new guy is. So it was that already on Sunday, in the weekly meeting, the cabinet sprang into action.”

And decided to promote the peace process in the region?

“Bite your tongue. No. The government did what is always done in Netanyahu’s milieu after the election of every new president anywhere: They looked for a nickname to attach to the new anti-Semite. The ‘black guy’ in America, the ‏(former‏) ‘dwarf’ in France. Rumor has it that in the case under discussion the chosen name is Mursa [Hebrew for ‘abscess’].”

But afterward, I understand, the ministers welcomed his election, after all.

“Indeed. Even as they were considering the wording of the text to condemn his election, they read in the paper that it should actually be welcomed, and then the approach turned around.

“On top of which, as usual, the mood in Jerusalem experienced a complete turnabout within hours: from the idea of calling up the reserves and imposing a war levy to something like euphoria.”

Euphoria? Why?

“Well, Jerusalem listened very closely to the speech the guy made when he took the oath of office, and besides the regular prattle − the need to solve the Palestinian question, yada yada yada, which is an issue that every idiot in the world prattles about − the people in Jerusalem focused mainly on what he didn’t say.

“For example, the guy said not a word against the building of 300 residential units in Beit El, and he also did not express explicit opposition to the attack on Iran, which was taken here as a tacit endorsement of Ehud Barak. Jerusalem was also reassured when they heard that Morsi does not walk around with an explosive belt.”

And that is significant because...?

“Because it shows you that there is someone you can talk to, that he’s a human being, if not a mensch. It’s said that he even has a nail clipper which was made in China by a Swiss company, one of whose owners once forgot his glasses on the counter of a travel agency where the niece of a Holocaust survivor works. In short, so greatly did the mood in Jerusalem about Morsi’s election swing to the positive pole, that they considered adding to the congratulations on his election a plastic carton containing a slice of jellied calves feet made by Dvora, Natan’s wife. But the idea was dropped for fear it would be taken as a declaration of war.”

And what about Fuad – you know, Mubarak’s close friend, Benjamin Ben Eliezer?

“That’s still on hold. After all, we haven’t yet sat shivah for Mubarak, let alone marked his death. So, shweiya, shweiya. We’re not sending in the heavy artillery yet. Besides, we don’t want to suffocate Morsi with hugs. Not all at once. He also has his party and his nation to consider − wink wink, nod nod.”

By the way, was a reply received from Morsi to the congratulations from Netanyahu and Peres?

“Yes, but you don’t want to hear it. Or smell it.”

So isn’t the euphoria a bit premature?

“In any event, it didn’t last long. Within a few hours the report came in about UNESCO’s decision to recognize the Church of the Nativity as a World Heritage Site. Jerusalem was utterly stunned, really angry and even considerably displeased.

“Read what the prime minister said. He lost no time in issuing a furious condemnation: ‘It has been proven that UNESCO is motivated by political, not cultural, considerations. Instead of the Palestinians carrying out steps that will advance peace, they take unilateral steps that only push peace further away. The world needs to remember that the Church of the Nativity, which is sacred to Christianity, has been desecrated in the past by Palestinian terrorists.’”

Phew! What a rage!

“Not only that. Those lowlifes from UNESCO pulled a fast one on us. While Jerusalem was stunned, surprised and filled with anger and displeasure, the news arrived that the same UNESCO decided to also recognize the caves on Mount Carmel as a World Heritage Site.”

Well? More euphoria?

“Momentarily. But it was offset by the anger and astonishment over the Church of the Nativity thing, so in the end Jerusalem didn’t feel a thing that day.”