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Machinations over a Gaza ceasefire

Machinations over a Gaza ceasefire Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

As the fighting between Israel and Gaza continues into the seventh day, a ceasefire proposal brokered by Egypt is on the table and has been supported by both the US and Arab League. Israel has accepted the cease-fire proposal, but the proposal has been rejected by the armed wing of Hamas.

Al-Jazeera documentary scapegoats Israel for Egypt's problems

Al-Jazeera documentary scapegoats Israel for Egypt's problems Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Egypt, Israel, Media/ Academia, Updates    

Egypt has a domestic gas shortage, even though it continues to sit on decades worth of proven reserves. Industry analysts, as well as some of the world's top business publications, have made clear that the reason for this shortage has absolutely nothing to do with Israel, which only imported Egyptian gas through a pipeline over a period of about three years, in quantities that amounted to an infinitesimally small fraction of all Egyptian gas exports. Moreover, rather than being the source of Egypt's gas problem, Israel is today part of its solution, and is now coming to Egypt's aid to help ease its production shortfall and meet Cairo's contractual obligations to its trading partners.

In light of these facts, al-Jazeera has plumbed new depths of its historic bias against Israel with its release, with much fanfare, of a documentary on June 9, "Egypt's Lost Power", that blamed Israel for "ripping off the Egyptian people" through the purchase of low-priced Egyptian gas, further implying that this sale was responsible for creating Egypt's gas shortage. It also aired the allegation that Israel is now opportunistically seeking to profit from the crisis and using it as a "tool to screw" and subjugate the Egyptian people.

At crucial point in #AJtrial, al-Jazeera provokes Egypt

At crucial point in #AJtrial, al-Jazeera provokes Egypt Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Egypt, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Updates    

Many Australians have been following the lamentable plight of Peter Greste, the Australian journalist working for al-Jazeera who has been jailed along with two other al-Jazeera colleagues in Egypt since December on charges of conspiring with the banned Muslim Brotherhood to harm Egypt's reputation.

They should now be doubly worried about both their fate and about the judgment of al-Jazeera which published an inflammatory report this week alleging wrongdoing in Egypt's energy trade with Israel that could only serve to fan the flames of Egyptian anger against the Qatari-owned news organisation.

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Video: Ehud Yaari on the Middle East

Video: Ehud Yaari on the Middle East Categories: Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Multimedia, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

Ehud Yaari is a renowned veteran Israeli journalist, arguably Israel's most authoritative and influential foreign affairs analyst. He is a Middle East commentator for Israel's Channel 2 news, has written eight books on the Israeli-Arab conflict and has won top prizes for journalism in Israel.

He addressed AIJAC supporters in Melbourne on the regional turmoil surrounding Israel – including Syria, al-Qaeda, Egypt and the Palestinians – on February 23, 2014.

Al-Qaeda in Northern Sinai

Al-Qaeda in Northern Sinai Author: Jonathan Spyer Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Terrorism    

Northern Sinai has long played host to a variety of smuggling networks and jihadi organisations. Since General Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi's military coup of July 3rd, 2013 in Egypt, however, there has been an exponential increase in attacks emanating from this area.

This increasingly lawless region is now the home ground for an emergent Islamist insurgency against the Egyptian authorities. Since July 2013, more than 300 reported attacks have taken place in Sinai.

Recasting the Sinai Triangle

Recasting the Sinai Triangle Author: Ehud Yaari Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Terrorism    

Over the past year, Israel and Egypt have used a little-known, legally permissible understanding - the Agreed Activities Mechanism - to bypass restrictions on the number and type of Egyptian forces permitted in much of the Sinai. As a result, considerable Egyptian army forces are now constantly deployed in central and eastern Sinai (Areas B and C of the peninsula, respectively), in a manner and scope never envisaged by the teams that negotiated the treaty more than three decades ago. Going forward, this new reality on the ground is unlikely to be reversed and is bound to have profound consequences for Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation, Cairo's ongoing counterterrorism campaign, and the fate of Hamas in the neighbouring Gaza Strip.

Cinefile: Heroic protesters created tragedy for Egypt

Cinefile: Heroic protesters created tragedy for Egypt Author: Eric Trager Categories: Egypt    

In the opening montage of "The Square", Jehane Noujaim's Oscar-shortlisted documentary film about Egypt's Tahrir Square revolutionaries, we meet Ahmed, a twenty-something activist who explains the motivations for the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. "Egypt was living without dignity," he says, "Injustice existed everywhere." Ahmed tells us that he has worked since he was eight, and sold lemons to pay his fifth-grade tuition. "I lived my entire life under Mubarak's injustice," he says, as YouTube videos depicting police brutality, torture, and murder roll.

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Egypt's future/ Israel's Bedouin policies

Egypt's future/ Israel's Bedouin policies Categories: Egypt, Israel, Updates    

This Update deals with the situation in Egypt - where the military government of General Abd el Fattah el-Sisi seems to be consolidating power as it continues its relentless crackdown on the deposed Muslim Brotherhood and has just placed former President Mohammed Morsi on trial. On a separate matter, it also includes some important information about the controversial policies in Israel to resolve long standing land and housing issues affecting Bedouin communities in the southern part of the country.

The Yom Kippur War: Australian controversies of 1973

The Yom Kippur War: Australian controversies of 1973 Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Egypt, Media/ Academia, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

This blog, the last instalment of a three-part series on the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, uses original Australian source material to obtain some insights into the Australian government's controversial response to the war at the time, as well as the persuasive but ultimately futile arguments used by Israel's supporters to convince Canberra to improve its response. Finally, the blog concludes with some observations about how the Australian coverage of the Yom Kippur War can tell us something about the way the Australian media views Israel today.

The Yom Kippur War in Australian editorials and analysis

The Yom Kippur War in Australian editorials and analysis Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: America, Australasia, Egypt, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

In June, AIJAC took a look back at the coverage of the Six Day War of 1967 in two major Australian newspapers, the Age of Melbourne and the Sydney Morning Herald. Now, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, we open the archives once again to look at the coverage of that war in Australia, this time expanding the scope of our research to include the Australian, as well as touching upon the coverage of the Canberra Times, and the Melbourne Herald.

As a much longer war, there is more to take in, so the retrospective will be split into two parts. This blog will discuss the editorials and some of the in-house analysis of the period, while the second will revisit some of the on-the-spot coverage by the newspapers' foreign correspondents covering the war. Finally, similar to our blog from June, we'll conclude by weighing some of the key contextual facts of the Israeli-Arab conflict that were widely understood by journalists at the time but are largely absent from the narrative in the news today.

The Yom Kippur War - 40 years on

The Yom Kippur War - 40 years on Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Egypt, Israel, Syria, Updates    

On October 6, 1973, as Israelis observed Yom Kippur - the holiest day in the Jewish calendar - the Egyptian and Syrian armies launched simultaneous surprise offensives against Israel across the ceasefire lines from the 1967 war.

Four decades later, the consequences and lessons of the 19-day war are still being analysed and debated. Meanwhile, once-classified information about the war from the archives of some of the principle players in the war, as well as their superpower patrons, are slowly coming to the surface, adding to our understanding of the events.

Today, AIJAC begins a three-part blog to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Israel's last major multi-front conventional war.

The first entry will examine recent stories about the war that might interest to our readers, including commentary about how the lessons of the Yom Kippur War are being applied to Israel's current security outlook.

An Israeli-Arab alliance on Iran?/ Cutting off US aid to Egypt

An Israeli-Arab alliance on Iran?/ Cutting off US aid to Egypt Categories: Egypt, Iran, Israel, Updates    

Today's update centres on the growing policy congruence, some say amounting almost to a tacit alliance, between Israel and various Sunni Arab states, especially Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states - united by shared concerns about Iran and declining US regional influence. It also contains an analysis of the US Administration's decision to cut off most of its military aid to Egypt earlier this week.

The regional decline of the Muslim Brotherhood?

The regional decline of the Muslim Brotherhood? Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Jordan, Middle East, Tunisia, Updates    

This Update deals with increasing signs across the Middle East that - independently of the overthrow of the Egyptian government by the military in July -  the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent organisation for all modern Islamists, is on the skids. If this trend persists, it would be a major reversal of what once seemed to be the primary direction of the "Arab Spring" instability which has been rocking the region since late 2010 - and seemed previously to be mostly benefiting Islamists.

Indonesia – The Model?

Indonesia – The Model? Author: Giora Eliraz Categories: Asia, Egypt    

From the very start of the Arab uprisings, more than two-and-a-half years ago, analysts looked to Indonesia, home of the largest Muslim community in the world, to better understand how transitions to democracy could be rendered compatible with Islam and applied to the Middle East. To be sure, Indonesia's democracy is not yet fully fledged. Nevertheless, one cannot ignore the considerable distance that has been covered by Indonesia in its democratisation efforts during the past 15 years. Indeed, the Indonesian success appears all the more impressive in light of the latest upheaval in Egypt.

Scribblings: The Other Settlements Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Antisemitism, Egypt, Israel    

As has become routine, there were widespread statements of condemnation from various international players after Israel announced in mid-August that it would be approving just over 2,000 new units in east Jerusalem neighbourhoods and certain large settlements. Never mind that every single one of these apartments, if built (and this will take at least a couple of years), will be in an area that will remain Israeli according to every serious peace proposal.

As Egypt bleeds

As Egypt bleeds Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Egypt, Israel    

"We must get possession of Egypt," wrote Napoleon two years before he sailed to Alexandria and marched on Cairo. More than two centuries later, Egypt's military leaders likely thought something similar as their soldiers opened fire on Islamist demonstrators, leaving Western diplomats alarmed, Egyptian liberals unperturbed, and Israeli policymakers scrambling to remap a rapidly changing Middle East.

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The Egypt Policy Dilemma

The Egypt Policy Dilemma Categories: Egypt, Updates    

This Update discusses the major policy dilemmas posed for Western leaders - and especially the US - by the situation in Egypt in the wake of the bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters by the military government there over the past week and a half.

First up is Harvard University's Chuck Freilich, formerly deputy national-security adviser in Israel, who says that Egypt today places US policymakers where they least like to be - caught in a conflict between US values and US interests.

Whither Egypt?

Whither Egypt? Categories: Egypt, Updates    

The tense, confused and often violent situation in Egypt took as significant turn for the worse Wednesday with an army crackdown on sit-in protests supporting ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi which seems to have reportedly left hundreds dead. While it is too early for much serious analysis of the latest major escalation in the bloodshed in Egypt (though Michael Ryan of the Jamestown Foundation has had made one early attempt), this Update is devoted to the pieces looking at the divided and stalemated politics of Egypt since the military overthrew Morsi  last month, and the difficulty of identifying a reasonable way forward.

Squeezing Hamas for the Sake of Peace

Squeezing Hamas for the Sake of Peace Author: Jonathan Schanzer Categories: Egypt, Palestinians    

The downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt earlier this month has been widely described as a blow to Hamas and its de facto government in the Gaza Strip, but the real damage has been to the Islamist group's pocketbook. The Egyptian Army's ongoing operations against the subterranean tunnels connecting Egypt to the Gaza Strip, which have long served as key arteries for bulk cash smuggling, are wreaking havoc on Hamas' finances. One senior Israeli security official told me that, in the current environment, an additional reduction of 20 to 30% in Hamas' revenues could "destroy" the movement.

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Back to the Future

Back to the Future Author: Jacques Neriah Categories: Egypt    

In Egypt on July 3, 2013, for the first time in the modern history of the Middle East, an Islamocracy was ousted from power. The Muslim Brotherhood's 80-year dream to take over Egypt ended in a fiasco, barely one year after one of its own was democratically elected to the office of President of Egypt. The army, which had been severely beaten a year ago by the same failing president, made its comeback after having warned all year that it would intervene if "Egypt was about to fall into an abyss."

The Old Order Strikes Back

The Old Order Strikes Back Author: Jonathan Spyer Categories: Egypt, Middle East    

The toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood power in Egypt by the army is an event of historic importance. It is important chiefly because it represents an enormous setback in a process which only a few months ago looked inexorable and unstoppable. That process was the replacement of the military-republic regimes in the Arab world by new regimes based on Sunni Islamism, with franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood most prominent among them.

TV Holiday Specials, Middle East-style

TV Holiday Specials, Middle East-style Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Egypt, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

When watching holiday specials on TV, even cold-hearted cynics often find it hard not to get swept away by the wholesome feel-good and uplifting messages about the importance of family and friends and the meaning of the "holiday spirit" - saccharine and sentimental as these messages might be. In recent years across the Arab and Muslim world, TV holiday specials have gained popularity, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

Unfortunately, the messages of some of these programs are less about the holiday spirit, and more about hateful incitement. The new series, "Khaybar", airing this year is a prime example. A "prime time" example, even.

Islamism after the Fall of Morsi

Islamism after the Fall of Morsi Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Turkey, Updates    

This Update looks at the future of the Islamist political movement, especially in Egypt, in the wake of the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-led Morsi government there early this month. It also includes an analysis of the state of Islamist politics in another important nation - drawing conclusions about Turkey's Erdogan goverment based on its handling of the recent unrest in that country.

Al-Jazeera biases spark backlash in Egypt

Al-Jazeera biases spark backlash in Egypt Author: Jeni Willenzik Categories: Egypt, Gulf states, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Updates    

Al-Jazeera has been subject to a significant backlash as a result of its alleged favouring of the Muslim Brotherhood in its reporting on Egypt's recent crisis. Since Egyptian Army Commander Abdul Fatah al-Sisi declared that the Egyptian constitution was being suspended on July 3, 22 of al-Jazeera's staff members have resigned in response to what they consider to be its "biased editorial policy" in covering the events.

Additionally, al-Jazeera reporters were forced out of an Egyptian news conference to the sound of chanting by other journalists, while threatening leaflets were dropped near the al-Jazeera offices in Cairo displaying graphic images and slogans such as, "A bullet may kill a man, but a lying camera kills a nation." 

Exposing anti-Israel myth making/Sinai security

Exposing anti-Israel myth making/Sinai security Categories: Egypt, Israel, Updates    

Today’s Update offers some valuable insights into the propaganda war waged against Israel by pro-Palestinian NGOs and the Palestinian Authority (PA), as well as a new piece on the situation in the Sinai from Ehud Yaari.

First, David Weinberg from the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies comprehensively demolishes the wholly fictional accusation that Israel is denying adequate water supply to Palestinian cities and towns.

Media Week - Antony blowin’ steam; Do the math; Don’t bank on Barclay

Media Week - Antony blowin’ steam; Do the math; Don’t bank on Barclay Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Egypt, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

Channel Seven's "Weekend Sunrise" (July 7) featured the authors of a new book debating religion called "For God's Sake" which includes a Christian, an atheist, a Muslim and a Jew. The Christian, Muslim and atheist were committed believers.

The "Jew", however, was that well-known non-authority on Judaism, the self-described atheist and extreme anti-Zionist Antony Loewenstein.

Predictably, Loewenstein preferred to bash Israel rather than talk about Judaism.

Views on Egypt, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and Turkey Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, Turkey, Updates    

Today’s Update looks at the ongoing developments in Egypt; the attempts to coax the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table; and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s increasingly offensive statements.

First, top Israeli media commentator and analyst Ehud Yaari - who enjoys some of the best contacts in the Middle East - talks to the Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre on the outlook for Egypt, Hamas and Israel. Yaari explains that Israel’s main challenge relates to the freedom of movement enjoyed by armed jihadists in the vast and largely lawless Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt –on the brink or a new beginning?

Egypt –on the brink or a new beginning? Categories: Egypt, Updates    

Today’s Update follows up on yesterday’'s by offering some of the most interesting analyses of the momentous changes in Egypt.

First, Daniel Pipes worries that the Egyptian army was premature in removing President Mohammed Morsi from office. He argues “that the quick military removal of the Muslim Brotherhood government will exonerate Islamists” with history showing that popular support for utopian movements really ebbs before the realities of radicalism are truly absorbed.

Revolution in Egypt, again

Revolution in Egypt, again Categories: Egypt, Updates    

Today’s update looks at the Egyptian army’s suspension of the constitution and removal of the country’s first democratically elected President, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi. The army moved after Morsi failed to meet its demand to de-escalate the wave of anti-government demonstrations that had swept much of the country. For a brief explanation of what comes next, Frank Spano from the Investigative Project looks at the Egyptian army’s appointment of Adly Mansour as transitional leader until elections can be held. Mansour is the Chief Justice of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court.

Egypt on the Edge/Qatar's New Emir

Egypt on the Edge/Qatar's New Emir Categories: Egypt, Gulf states, Updates    

This Update features two pieces on the increasingly volatile situation in Muslim Brotherhood-ruled Egypt, with a breakdown of state authority, a worsening economic crisis, and a major uptick in mass opposition protests scheduled for June 30 - and perhaps the possibility of military intervention looming. And it also includes some analysis of the succession of a new Emir in Qatar - a country which has played an increasingly important role in much of the Middle East upheaval of the past two and a half years.

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Media Week - Moaning Mona

Media Week - Moaning Mona Author: Allon Lee Categories: Egypt, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

Speaking to SBS Radio's Ron Sutton (June 5), Dr Mona El Farra, head of the health committee for the Red Crescent for Gaza Strip, blamed Israel and to a lesser extent, Egypt, for a litany of health problems in Gaza.

SBS's website noted that El Farra held a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and no doubt plied him with her propaganda.

Which is a pity, because she would do better to demand the world hold Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to account for their woeful and negligent governance...

Incitement watch: BDS group harasses synagogue-goers in the US while Arabic media sees Jewish plots everywhere

Incitement watch: BDS group harasses synagogue-goers in the US while Arabic media sees Jewish plots everywhere Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Updates    

Speaking at the annual Global Forum of the American Jewish Committee earlier this month, the US State Department's Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Ira Forman, noted the worrying global rise in anti-Jewish sentiment around the world...

The latest incident to be exposed internationally comes from CU-Divest, a pro-BDS group at the University of Colorado in the US...

Whilst Western anti-Israel extremists frequently dabble with various anti-Jewish slogans and themes, there is one particularly vicious Arabic chant that is heard with an alarming regularity at anti-Israel protests with a more Islamist bent...

The Six Day War and the changing face of journalism: The view from Australia

The Six Day War and the changing face of journalism: The view from Australia Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Middle East, Palestinians, Reference, Syria, Updates    

The recent passing of the Associated Press' acclaimed journalist Hal McClure at the age of 92 coincides closely with the event that brought him his greatest fame - his coverage of the 1967 Six Day War, which began 46 years ago yesterday.

His passing is yet another reminder of a bygone era when a journalist took pride in reporting the news, rather than acting as a partisan advocate for or against the newsmakers themselves.

Before refecting on that, however, the anniversary of the Six Day War offers us an opportunity to review some of the coverage of the war at the time in two of Australia's leading newspapers - the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age.

Australian FM right to raise concerns about the plight of Mideast Christians

Australian FM right to raise concerns about the plight of Mideast Christians Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Egypt, Middle East, Syria, Updates    

Yesterday, Greg Sheridan noted in the Australian that Foreign Minister Bob Carr "expresses concern about the treatment of Christians and other minorities in the region", and said "The Foreign Minister is right to make this point and it is a sad commentary about political correctness in much of the West that almost no one raises a voice in defence of the increasingly beleaguered Christians of the Middle East."

Both Carr and Sheridan are correct. The sad reality is that Christians across the Middle East face an uncertain future, and their situation seems to be deteroriating rapidly.

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The increasing perils of peacekeeping for Australia and others

The increasing perils of peacekeeping for Australia and others Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

The unrest in the Arab world commonly mislabelled as the "Arab Spring" has put a strain on United Nations and other peacekeeping forces in the region.

Peacekeeping troops - in which Australia currently and historically has played a role - have limited options for defence available to them according to their mandate, are intended to observe, liaise and act as a buffer between armies.

However, regional non-state actors filling a vacuum created from the weakened national authority in countries affected by the unrest have been increasingly taking advantage of the limitations of the peacekeepers by opportunistically using them as soft targets, bargaining chips and even human shields.

Five extreme reactions to the Boston Bombings

Five extreme reactions to the Boston Bombings Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Terrorism, United Nations, Updates    

The confusion after the bombing of the Boston Marathon last week saw a number of reactions that were 'colourful' to say the least. Australians will be familiar with radio broadcaster Alan Jones' claim that the perpetrators were most likely "left-wing radical students", as well as Bob Ellis' rather bizarre speculation that "it seems to me likely that this was not al-Qaeda or a lone madman ... but more likely, much more likely, the NRA."

The most shocking reactions, however, did not come from Australians. Be it an unnerving sense of vindication or an incomprehensible conspiracy theory, AIJAC has compiled five of the most 'out-there' responses to the awful carnage that took place.

Bassem Youssef and Egypt's Future Course

Bassem Youssef and Egypt's Future Course Categories: Egypt, Updates    

This Update deals with growing signs that political and economic problems in Egypt may be coming to a head - problems which have been highlighted in the media primarily in the wake of the prosecution for various political "crimes" of Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef. It also features some analysis of the recent secret leadership elections within Hamas.

Jerusalem's Cairo Conundrum

Jerusalem's Cairo Conundrum Author: Yehonathan Tommer Categories: Egypt    

Egypt's continuing revolutionary turmoil cannot disguise the fact that its people face a fateful crossroads between a creeping oppressive theocracy, descent into abysmal poverty and the return of a military junta. However, Israeli government sources closely monitoring the drama believe that post-Mubarak Egypt is unlikely to become an Islamic theocracy.

Egypt's chaos/ West Bank realities

Egypt's chaos/ West Bank realities Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update features two pieces related to the increasing street violence in Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood-led government's response to it, plus an important piece on the sad reality behind the Palestinian Authority's state building efforts in the West Bank, led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day Misused and Abused

International Holocaust Remembrance Day Misused and Abused Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Antisemitism, Egypt, Europe, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Updates    

Increasingly January 27, ‘International Holocaust Remembrance Day' is being misused and abused. This year was no exception with three prominent cases: Gerald Scarfe's cartoon in the Sunday Times; former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's comments praising Italy's former fascist dictator Benito Mussolini who was allied with Hitler's Nazi Germany; and most concerning were the outrageous comments made by Fathi Shihab-Eddim, a senior figure close to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi who chose January 27 to deny the Holocaust.

Egypt's Islamist Spring/More UN hypocrisy

Egypt's Islamist Spring/More UN hypocrisy Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, United Nations, Updates    

Two years after the Arab Spring erupted in the Middle East, sweeping away long standing governments and leaders, the biggest winners are unquestionably the Islamists, particularly in Egypt. Today's Update considers the strategic outlook. To the north of Israel, Syria is roiling in the blood of 60,000 dead as the Assad regime and Islamist rebels clash. To the south of Israel, Egypt’s streets are once more filling up with protesters as the Muslim Brotherhood boldly exposes its antisemitic and anti-democratic colours at breakneck speed, while its offshoot in Gaza is approaching its sixth year of rule.

The Sinai Powderkeg

The Sinai Powderkeg Author: Ehud Yaari Categories: Egypt, Israel    

Egypt is the country that counts [in the Middle East]. I lived for years in Egypt but I cannot tell you - and the same goes for my friends in Egypt and I have many - whether Mr. Morsi, the President, sees himself as the ‘Mr. Morsi elected to be President' or as the errand boy of the Muslim Brotherhood. My inclination so far is to suspect that he has been tamed by the Muslim Brotherhood movement. When you look at the room allocation in the Presidential Palace in northern Cairo you will see that next door to the President are the rooms allocated for the old party thugs of the Muslim Brotherhood. I'm not sure the President is calling the shots.

Video: Ehud Yaari on Israel and the Middle East

Video: Ehud Yaari on Israel and the Middle East Categories: Egypt, Iran, Israel, Multimedia, Palestinians, Syria    

Ehud Yaari addressed an AIJAC luncheon on Monday 14 January 2013 on the following topics:

  • Australia and Israel, including Woodside's successful bid for developing Israel's gas reserves
  • Israel's elections
  • Egypt and challenges for the region
  • Syria
  • Israel, the Palestinians and the Two-State outcome
  • Iran's march towards nuclear weapons capability and American and Israeli strategy

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Essay: Native Son

Essay: Native Son Author: Raymond Ibrahim Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism    

Around 1985, current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri fled his homeland of Egypt, presumably never to return. From his early beginnings as a teenage leader of a small jihadi cell devoted to overthrowing Egyptian regimes (first Nasser's, then Sadat's) until he merged forces with Osama bin Laden, expanding his objectives to include targeting the United States of America, Zawahiri never forgot his original objective - transforming Egypt into an Islamist state that upholds and enforces the totality of sharia law, and that works towards the resurrection of a global caliphate.

Egyptian opposition leaders to be investigated for bizarre ‘Zionist plot’

Egyptian opposition leaders to be investigated for bizarre ‘Zionist plot’ Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Egypt, Updates    

On December 5 Egyptian Prosecutor General Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah - who was just appointed by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi a few days ago - referred for investigation a complaint accusing three former presidential candidates - Mohammed ElBaradei, Hamdein Sabahy and Amr Moussa of engaging in a "Zionist plot" of espionage and sedition to overthrow the Morsi government.

Egypt's new Islamist constitution

Egypt's new Islamist constitution Categories: Egypt, Updates    

On Friday, following an all night session, Egypt's constitutional assembly rushed through a new constitution, which was promptly approved by Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi, and will be put to a referendum on Dec. 15. The rushed constitutional process follows increasing political unrest there after Morsi published on Nov. 22 a decree giving himself near absolute powers, not subject to judicial review, to take measures he judges necessary " to protect the country and the goals of the revolution." But the unrest shows little sign of ending anytime soon.

How Gaza Changes the Mideast Game

How Gaza Changes the Mideast Game Author: Lee Smith Categories: Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

In mid-November, Israel embarked on "Operation Pillar of Defence", the second time it's gone to war against Hamas in the past four years. The proximate cause of this campaign, according to Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, was "the incessant rounds of artillery rockets and mortars into the heart of our southern communities." But that rationale was surely coupled with a build-up in Hamas' weapons arsenal - including the Iranian-made Fajr-5 missile, capable of striking Tel Aviv, and Kornet anti-tank missiles, one of which was fired on an IDF jeep and injured four soldiers on Nov. 10.

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Operation Amud Anan ("Pillar of Defence")

Operation Amud Anan ("Pillar of Defence") Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Following on from Daniel Meyerowitz Katz's news roundup yesterday, this Update looks at the reasons for and the possible trajectory of the current round of violence sparked by Gaza rockets, which the IDF has dubbed Operation Amud Anan ("Pillar of Defence").

Since the targeted killing of Hamas' military commander in Gaza on Wednesday, there are now reported to have been around 340 strikes by Israel on targets in Gaza - reportedly killing 15 Palestinians (it is unclear how many are combatants versus civilians) - and 305 rockets fired into Israel, killing three civilians, including a pregnant woman. This also included perhaps four rocket attacks on the Tel Aviv area - the first since the 1991 Gulf War - which fortunately caused no damage or injuries. Israel claims to have neutralised most of Hamas' medium range Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv in its initial strikes.

Egypt's changing landscape

Egypt's changing landscape Categories: Egypt, Updates    

Egypt is back in the spotlight in this Update, which covers some important new developments in Cairo, the Sinai, and beyond that deserve closer attention. In Egypt after his US visit and speech at the United Nations last month, President Mohamed Morsi held his first interview with state-run media - a soft-hitting, pandering piece which many Egyptians said reminded them eerily of the way Egyptian media once presented Hosni Mubarak. Yet all is not well in Cairo, as the Muslim Brotherhood continues to reshape the country in its image. This week, for example, as Egypt’s new Constitution nears completion, many Egyptian women are up in arms over an erosion of women’s rights in the current draft. Meanwhile, a top advisor to Morsi has reiterated a call for revising Egypt’s Peace Treaty with Israel to allow for the removal of UN peacekeeping forces from the Sinai buffer zone with Israel – and fill the vacuum with Egyptian troops.

Attacks on the US Diplomatic Missions in Cairo and Benghazi

Attacks on the US Diplomatic Missions in Cairo and Benghazi Categories: America, Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Libya, Updates    

This Updates deals with the implications of yesterday's mob attack on the US Embassy in Cairo  (see video here) and the armed attack of the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which left US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. While these attacks have been reported as a response to a crude and objectionable anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" made by some Americans and previewed on Youtube, there is growing evidence that the Cairo demonstration was scheduled for Sept. 11 weeks ago to call for the release of the blind Sheikh Omar abdel Rahman, convicted for his role in the first World Trade Centre bombing. Meanwhile US officials say the Libya attack looks like it was also pre-planned, (see also here), possibly by an al-Qaeda-linked group, before the film issue ever surfaced.

Living with Big Brother

Living with Big Brother Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Egypt, Israel    

In a typical Middle Eastern dynamic, what began with a hail of bullets soon produced political casualties, diplomatic fog, and strategic perplexity.

The physical fire originally erupted near the Rafah border crossing between the Sinai Desert and the Gaza Strip, when presumably Islamist terrorists ambushed and killed 16 Egyptian soldiers while they were breaking the Ramadan fast.

Media Microscope: All President Morsi's Men Author: Allon Lee Categories: Egypt, Media/ Academia    

This month, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, acting on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood, offered a stunning display of the political adage that one "should never allow a good crisis to go to waste".

It was a tectonic shift. August started with Mubarak's cronies running the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), having severely restricted the powers of the Morsi Presidency, but ended up with Morsi assuming full executive and legislative control, with neither constitution nor legislature to check his power.

The Sinai Vacuum

The Sinai Vacuum Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Updates    

This Update is dedicated to the implications of the latest large-scale attack from Sinai into Israel on Sunday, which left 16 Egyptian soldiers dead, but caused no casualties in Israel. A good introduction to the news about the attack and its immediate aftermath appeared in Sharyn Mittleman's "Fresh Air" blog post on Tuesday - this Update will focus on the wider Sinai problem of a power vacuum increasingly being filled by violent extremist groups highlighted by this latest attack.

Scribblings: Goodbye Gaza

Scribblings: Goodbye Gaza Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians    

There is little doubt that the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's presidential and parliamentary elections has been a major setback for Israel's foreign and security policy. It is too early to tell how bad this setback is - much will depend on how much control over Egypt's foreign and defence affairs the Muslim Brotherhood succeeds in wresting from the military, and how much the Brotherhood chooses to focus on consolidating its internal power versus courting popularity and distracting the public from domestic problems by sparking crises with Israel. But at the very least it is possible to say that the situation will not be an improvement.

Except perhaps in one respect, and it concerns Gaza.

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Incitement watch: popular Egyptian comedy show, "I hate the Jews to death!"

Incitement watch: popular Egyptian comedy show, "I hate the Jews to death!" Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Egypt, Updates    

In his book The Flight of The Intellectuals, Paul Berman noted a pivotal point in Arab antisemitism during the WWII-era alliance between Adolf Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Palestine. One of Husseini's greatest "achievements" was to take Nazi anti-Jewish tropes and not only translate them into Arabic, but to put them in terms that made sense to the Muslim Arab population in the Middle East.

Decades later and the depth and degree of antisemitism in mainstream Arab discourse has become extremely confronting. A quick glance over all of our posts tagged with "antisemitism" will show how common this phenomenon really is, and for those of us who watch constantly see this material, the volume is unfortunately enough that we become a little desensitised to it.

That said, there will be times when anyone will be jolted out of their complacency. For this writer, the below video did the job...

Pew Survey of Middle East reveals complex and sometimes conflicted feelings about democracy

Pew Survey of Middle East reveals complex and sometimes conflicted feelings about democracy Author: Andrea Nadel Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Middle East, Tunisia, Turkey, Updates    

The Pew Research Centre's Global Attitudes Project has just released the results of surveys it conducted throughout the Middle East in the wake of the "Arab Spring." The surveys reveal some interesting insights about attitudes in the Middle East in the wake of the recent uprisings, including how Middle Easterners weigh democracy, Islamism, economic strength and political stability in their own societies.

Muslim Brotherhood leader: Liberating Jerusalem and Palestine should be "sole goal"

Muslim Brotherhood leader: Liberating Jerusalem and Palestine should be "sole goal" Author: Allon Lee Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

A June 14 speech by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's leader Mohammed Badie in which he dreams of a Muslim leadership ready to make the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem "the sole goal" does not engender hope the world's leading Sunni Islamist organisation is ready to moderate its extremist positions now that it's candidate has won the country's presidency.

In the speech, Badie, who selected Mohammed Mursi to run for the Egyptian presidency, says:

"How happy would be the Muslims if all Muslim rulers made the Palestinian cause a pivotal issue, around which Muslims, rulers and the ruled, would line up [and ally to make] the sole goal for all of them the recovery of al Aqsa Mosque, freeing it from the filth of the Zionists, and imposing Muslim rule throughout beloved Palestine."

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Editorial: Egypt as Islamist Epicentre Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism    

Just last month, Tareq al-Suwaidan, a leading Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood figure, was granted a visa to give lectures in Sydney and Melbourne, including at a forum on the campus of Monash University. It was his second visit to Australia.

Al-Suwaidan has a long history of espousing antisemitic statements, such as stating that "the most dangerous thing facing the Muslims is not the dictatorships. The absolutely most dangerous thing is the Jews. They are the most dangerous. They are the greatest enemy," and "power lies with the politicians, who are influenced by two things and two things only: money and the media, both of which are controlled by the Jews." He has also openly called for "armed resistance" against the "Zionist entity."

Scribblings: The Other Problem with the Muslim Brotherhood Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians    

There are a lot of things to worry about following the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood's Muhammad Morsi in the Egyptian Presidential election. The Brotherhood is of course effectively the parent organisation and model for all radical Sunni Islamist groups - from al-Qaeda, through Hamas, to Somalia's al-Shabaab, Nigeria's murderous Boko Haram and Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiyah. It also comes with a worldview which places absolutely no intrinsic value on democracy - to them, democracy is tactically valuable only as long as it helps achieve Islamist ends and the moment other ways of doing so appear to be better, it becomes an obstacle to be eradicated. Even if the Brotherhood allows relatively free elections to continue, its theocratic worldview makes it unlikely to encourage the development of the free public square which is essential for genuine democracy to flourish.

O, Brother

O, Brother Author: Robert Satloff Categories: Egypt, Middle East    

For both Middle Easterners and Americans, Muhammad Morsi's victory in Egypt's presidential election is a watershed moment. Eighty-four years after an obscure schoolteacher founded the Muslim Brotherhood, and nearly 60 years since the Egyptian army overthrew King Farouk and established a republic, Morsi's success raises the prospect of Islamist governance in the most powerful and populous Arab state. For the United States, Morsi's election, coupled with Osama bin Laden's killing a year ago, underscores a shift from the threat of violent Islamist extremism to a new, more complex challenge posed by the empowerment of a currently nonviolent but no less ambitious form of Islamist radicalism.

Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood

Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood Author: Barry Rubin Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism    

Today, the Muslim Brotherhood is the most important international political organisation in the Arabic-speaking world. It just won the presidency of Egypt and is the dominant party in Egypt's Parliament, having obtained about 47% of the vote there and in the Tunisian Government, having received 40% of the ballots. In the form of Hamas, now an explicit branch of the movement, it rules the Gaza Strip.

It is the leadership of the opposition in the Palestinian Authority (West Bank) and in Jordan, while the local Brotherhood controls the internationally recognised leadership (the Syrian National Council) of the Syrian opposition in the civil war there. Much smaller Brotherhood groups exist in several other Arab countries.

Egypt under a Muslim Brotherhood President

Egypt under a Muslim Brotherhood President Categories: Egypt, Updates    

This Update focuses on new analysis from noted experts on the likely trajectory of Egypt under its new President, Muhammed Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood.

First is Eric Trager, the expert on Egyptian domestic politics for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who discusses whether the democratic election victory of the Brotherhood means that it will now behave as a democratic party. Trager discusses considerable evidence of undemocratic behaviour by the Brotherhood and their supporters during the lead-up to the election, including signals that the Brotherhood intended to fight for a Morsi victory by any means necessary if he failed to win.

Declassified documents from '67 show Israel's willingness to trade land for peace

Declassified documents from '67 show Israel's willingness to trade land for peace Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Egypt, Jordan, Palestinians, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

Did Israel's government covet the land it captured as part of the defensive war of June 1967, which ended with Israeli forces in control of the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza?

For the most part, not at all, according to 200 pages of newly declassified transcripts from cabinet and committee meetings in the days following the war, released by Israel's National Archive this month.

Egypt's Uncertain Post-Election Future

Egypt's Uncertain Post-Election Future Categories: Egypt, Israel, Updates    

This Update deals with the aftermath of events in Egypt over the weekend - both the run-off presidential election (which the Muslim Brotherhood's Muhammed Morsi claims to have narrowly won, though his opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, makes the same claim, but election authorities are reviewing appeals and it is not clear when an official announcement will be made ), and the military's announcement of a temporary constitutional arrangement which effectively strips the Presidency of most of its power.

Women and Tahrir Square – from a symbol of freedom to a reality of fear

Women and Tahrir Square – from a symbol of freedom to a reality of fear Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Updates    

What happens when small groups of Egyptian women (escorted by men) gather in Tahrir Square to protest against the alarming and widespread phenomenon of sexual harassment in post-Mubarak Egypt? They get groped, sexually assaulted and violently attacked by a mob of thugs, until eventually rescued by other groups of men who come to their aid.

Shock Legal Judgement shakes Egypt/Syria and International Interests

Shock Legal Judgement shakes Egypt/Syria and International Interests Categories: Egypt, Syria, Updates    

The Egyptian political scene has been shaken up by a surprise court decision leading to the dissolution of parliament by the ruling military council - just days before the crucial second round of presidential elections were due to take place. Below, Washington Institute scholars David Schenker and Eric Trager look at the implications of this development, predicting instability and the likelihood of a military backdown on the dissolution if there is mass popular unrest. They stress that the key to what happens will be the attitude of the Muslim Brotherhood, and take a look at what Brotherhood leaders are saying so far.

Media Week - BDS is anti-peace; Worrying findings; Sandstorm on the horizon?

Media Week - BDS is anti-peace; Worrying findings; Sandstorm on the horizon? Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Australasia, Egypt, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Updates    

In the Australian (25/5) academic Philip Mendes analysed the conceptual and practical flaws underpinning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement noting that it "is a by-product of the second Palestinian intifada and the collapse of the Oslo peace process.... It is essentially war by other means...and intended to coerce Israel into surrendering to Palestinian demands".

Egypt's First Round Election Results

Egypt's First Round Election Results Categories: Egypt, Updates    

This Update focuses on analysis of the outcome of the Egyptian Presidential elections last week, where contrary to most expectations, the candidates to make it into the second round were Muslim Brotherhood representative Mohamed Morsi and former air force head Ahmed Shafiq, who is seen as closely associated with the Egyptian military and the former Mubarak regime.

First up is the reliably well-informed expert on Egyptian politics from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Eric Trager, looking at the success of the Muslim Brotherhood. He notes that analyses and polls which had predicted a poor showing for Morsi failed to account for the fact that not only is the Brotherhood the best organised political force in the country, it is in essence the only organised political force.

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The campaign tactics of Mohammed Morsi

The campaign tactics of Mohammed Morsi Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

Equality for women in work and education; an assurance that Islamic dress will not be imposed; Christian senior political advisors and possibly even a Christian Vice-President; freedom of protest and expression - the list of pre-election promises made since last Tuesday by Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate for presidency in Egypt, just keeps on getting longer.

Morsi won about 24% of the votes in the first round of presidential election. A second round will take place on June 16-17 between Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, and it seems that Morsi is trying very hard to broaden his support base, attempting to appeal to women and minorities, the youth of the revolution and even the military.

No reporting of Palestinian Christians living in fear in the West Bank

No reporting of Palestinian Christians living in fear in the West Bank Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Palestinians, Updates    

The recent plight of Coptic Christians in Egypt has been the subject of significant attention since last year's revolution. The community suffered yet another outrage last week, as an Egyptian court sentenced 12 Copts to life-imprisonment, while acquitting eight Muslims, for their involvement in an incident of mob violence that resulted in dozens of Coptic homes burned and destroyed.

This incident did not receive the coverage that it deserved, however the world is at least broadly aware of the struggle that the Copts in Egypt are currently facing. What has been receiving even less press coverage is the similar situation in which Palestinian Christians are reportedly finding themselves in....

Editorial: End of the Camp David era? Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Egypt, Israel    

Israel's new national unity government - one of the country's broadest coalitions on record - will have its work cut out in the months ahead. Domestically, in addition to the need to re-write the rules on military service for the ultra-Orthodox minority, and promised efforts to implement overdue political reforms, last year's controversies over social equity issues are also likely to resurface.

Internationally, the problem of how to deal with Iran looms over everything else, representing perhaps the most significant existential threat Israel has faced in more than a generation.

But almost as important will be adapting to the changing and unsettled situation in Egypt, as it continues its political revolution following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak last year.

Tahrir where?

Tahrir where? Author: Mahmoud Salem Categories: Egypt    

Fifteen months after the Egyptian revolution, the largely secular youth movement on the streets of Egypt has lost much of its enthusiasm. As the deadline for the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to transfer power looms ever closer, the most pressing issue for Egypt's revolutionaries is their lack of representation in the formation of a new government in the place of Hosni Mubarak's regime, which they were instrumental in toppling.

The revolutionary youth, however, have failed to articulate clear demands to negotiate with the various presidential candidates. Instead of endorsing one viable candidate to represent their interests, they have backed disparate - and failed - campaigns.

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A Toxic Brew in Sinai

A Toxic Brew in Sinai Author: Evelyn Gordon Categories: Egypt, Israel    

To grasp how badly the security situation in Sinai has deteriorated, one fact suffices: Israel now receives as many intelligence warnings about Sinai-based terror plots as it does about terror from Gaza.

This, obviously, is of great concern to Israel. But it should also concern the international community because, unlike terror from the West Bank or Gaza, which, despite periodic Israeli counter-offensives, has never drawn other Arab countries into the conflict, Sinai-based terror could easily end up starting a war between Israel and Egypt.

There’s no debate: anti-Israel sentiment growing in Egypt

There’s no debate: anti-Israel sentiment growing in Egypt Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

Egyptian presidential hopefuls Amr Moussa and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh held a televised debate on Thursday, but when it came to Israel, the candidates had little to argue about.

Both pledged to review the 1979 peace treaty Egypt had signed with Israel, while trying to outdo each other's antagonism towards Israel: Abol Fotouh termed Israel an enemy, while Moussa called it an adversary.

The candidate's caustic views were mirrored in a poll released on Tuesday, which revealed growing anti-Israel and anti-Western sentiment in the country. As Egypt continues to develop a new Constitution and readies for presidential elections on May 23 (with a likely runoff on June 16), the debate as well as the poll raise new concerns over Egypt's direction.

Jewish refugees - Addressing historical injustice as a key to reconciliation

Jewish refugees - Addressing historical injustice as a key to reconciliation Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

Palestinian refugees and the claims made of "right of return" for them have long been a major issue within the debate over a 'just solution' to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The claimed "right of return'" is still seen as a core obstacle to overcome in any future peace negotiations. Yet the refugees question is even more complex. Palestinian refugees actually represent the smaller of the two refugees groups created by the regional conflict between the Arab countries and Israel - the larger group being Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim countries.

The voices of these Jewish refugees, sadly, have hardly ever been heard or are generally too quickly dismissed. Listening to these voices could potentially shed light and new perspectives not only on the refugees question, but also on the nature and history of the regional context of the conflict. It might even promote reconciliation.

Egypt's Islamist Presidential Candidates/ Benzion and Binyamin Netanyahu

Egypt's Islamist Presidential Candidates/ Benzion and Binyamin Netanyahu Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Updates    

This Update contains two valuable pieces on the candidates for the highly important Egyptian Presidential  election (Barry Rubin had an excellent analysis of just how important here), as well as one of the many interesting pieces being written about the legacy of Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu, who died last week age 102.

Muslim stigma on visiting Jerusalem waning?

Muslim stigma on visiting Jerusalem waning? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

In what was was considered another sign of the rapidly deteriorating ties between Israel and Egypt, a visit to Jerusalem by Egyptian Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa -- accompanying Jordanian officials -- caused outrage in Egypt's new Islamist-dominated Parliament last week. The Parliament demanded Gomaa's resignation for behaviour that risked "normalising" relations with Israel.

Despite Gomaa's statements that the visit was unofficial and that it took place under the supervision of the Jordanian authorities, the visit angered those opposed to normalizing relations with Israel.

Parliament Speaker Saad al-Katatny read out...

 

Truth can be stranger than fiction in the effort to curtail women's rights in Egypt

Truth can be stranger than fiction in the effort to curtail women's rights in Egypt Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Updates    

A new controversy has broken out regarding women's rights in Egypt. It all started when al- Arabiya reported that the National Council for Women (NCW) appealed to the Egyptian parliament, requesting that two highly controversial laws, both affecting women's status, not be approved. According to the report, the first law would lower the minimum age of marriage to 14; the other would allow a husband to engage in intercourse with his wife's corps a few hours after her death. Al- Arabiya's original report was based on an article by Egyptian columnist Amro Abdul Samea in the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram, and has since been picked up by many other media outlets. The web went into a frenzy over the shocking possibility that, if the 'farewell intercourse law' were approved, Egyptian men would be granted a legal right to have sex with their dead wives up to 6 hours after their death (not surprisingly, the implication that Egyptian women would be granted the same right in regards to their dead husbands was of little comfort).

Collision Course in Egypt

Collision Course in Egypt Author: Jacques Neriah Categories: Egypt    

Fourteen months after the popular uprising that brought down the Mubarak regime, Egypt is heading toward a head-on collision between the Islamic forces and the secular military apparatus that has ruled Egypt since 1952, when a group of young officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser revolted against the monarchy and toppled the regime.

Much has been written about a tacit agreement between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) led by Field Marshal Tantawi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The so-called "deal" was supposed to divide power between the two protagonists, whereby the Islamists would retain power in the legislative bodies, and the military, through their proxies, would keep control of the executive branch of government - first and foremost the presidency.

Muslim Brotherhood Play for Power in Egypt? Categories: Egypt, Updates    

This Update features two pieces looking at the increasing signs that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is abandoning past promises of modesty and moderation and attempting to impose near-complete domination over Egyptian politics in the near future.

First up is Eric Trager, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's expert on Egyptian politics. He notes the Brotherhood's decision to break previous promises and field a presidential candidate, its efforts to dominate both most Parliamentary Committees and the Constituent Committee writing the new constitution, and  scrapping of previous efforts to maintain a detente with the ruling military government constitute overwhelming evidence that the Brotherhood has abandoned any pretence of not seeking a monopoly on political power...

On the way to an Islamic constitution? The Muslim Brotherhood tries to hijack the Egyptian transition to 'democracy'

On the way to an Islamic constitution? The Muslim Brotherhood tries to hijack the Egyptian transition to 'democracy' Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Updates    

As a step in the transition to democracy in Egypt, a body was formed to draft a new constitution prior to the presidential elections (scheduled to be held in May). This constitution is set to determine major issues such as the role of religion, the balance between the President and the parliament's authority and minority and women's rights.

It was always expected that heated debates would emerge around the content of the constitution. However, according to recent developments, the first political crisis regarding the constitution revolves around the make up of the panel itself, and that debate makes it clear that for all their assertions about having reformed and their expressed desire to govern Egypt in a democratic and pluralistic manner, it appears that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is determined to use their political clout to Islamise Egypt.

Essay: In Retrospect

Essay: In Retrospect Author: Amos Yadlin Categories: Egypt, Middle East, Syria, Tunisia    

Since the outbreak of the protests in Tahrir Square, which were led by liberal, secular youth and which led to the ouster of Egyptian President Husni Mubarak, a lot of water has flowed through the Nile. An ailing Mubarak is on trial, possibly for his life, and his declaration that only his regime could block the rise of the Islamists turns out to have been keen and precise. Islamist political parties - the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists - won 75% of the vote in free, fair elections, while the liberal secular youth have been sidelined in terms of political influence in Egypt. The army, which has not given up the reins of government for even a moment, has teamed up with the Islamists, makes concessions in every confrontation with "the street", and retreats further and further from what it declared was its first priority: to promulgate a constitution that would ensure basic rights and a stable democracy.

 UN Commission on the Status of Women singles out Israel for condemnation

UN Commission on the Status of Women singles out Israel for condemnation Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Anti-Zionism, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Palestinians, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

The United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has done it again - in its annual session it condemned only one country - Israel, while ignoring the human rights violations of women around the world, including especially the current crisis in Syria - where women are being raped and murdered...

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Egypt to end Camp David?/ Syria Again

Egypt to end Camp David?/ Syria Again Categories: Egypt, Syria, Updates    

This Update deals with recent developments in Egypt, and especially the passage of a unanimous resolution by Egypt's Islamist-dominated parliament demanding a severing of all ties with Israel on Monday.

Israeli strategic analyst Jonathan D. Halevi looks at the implications of the resolution in more depth, including all of its provisions -  its statement that Israel will "never" be anything but an enemy, full support for Palestinian "armed resistance" against Israel, demands for a total boycott of Israel and a severing of all ties, an implied demand for an Egyptian nuclear capability and its rejection of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process...

Scribblings: From the Jews to the Copts in Egypt

Scribblings: From the Jews to the Copts in Egypt Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel    

In December, I wrote on AIJAC's "Fresh AIR" blog (available on-line at www.aijac.org.au/news/article/antisemitism-in-the-middle-east-in-1835) about a 19th century book that had been rediscovered which shed a great deal of light on the situation of Jews in the Arab Middle East in the 1830s - before Zionism became an issue, and before there was significant European influence on those societies. I noted that the book in question, An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, by Edward William Lane and Edward Stanley Poole, based on numerous visits to Egypt, countered common but erroneous beliefs that the Middle East was largely free from significant antisemitism or large-scale persecution of Jews before these influences.

Egypt and the NGOs

Egypt and the NGOs Categories: Egypt, NGOs, Updates    

This Update features two pieces on the crisis between Egypt and the US sparked by the Egyptian government's crackdown on pro-democracy NGOs in the country, and more importantly, what these events say about Egypt's potential for progress toward genuine liberal democracy.

Stephen McInerney, director of the Project on Middle East Democracy, discusses the politics of the NGO case in some depth and makes a strong case that the future of Egyptian civil society may be at stake. He details the clear disingenuousness of the claims against the NGOs, and the way Fayza Abul Naga, minister of planning and international cooperation, is clearly using the case - along with a strategy of brinksmanship - to promote her agenda, with at least the acquiescence of the ruling military council, SCAF...

Conspiracy Theories and the Arab Spring Categories: Egypt, Middle East, NGOs, Updates    

This Update focuses on the growing prevalence of conspiracy theories that seem to be coming out of countries affected by the Arab Spring, especially Egypt, and the possible consequences.

First up is Washington Institute scholar David Schenker, who looks at the background to the Egyptian decision to prosecute 16 US citizens who lead NGOs in Egypt for accepting foreign funding to promote democracy. This decision risks the loss of $1.3 billion in annual aid from the US which Egypt desperately needs in order to import food for its citizens, but Egyptians overwhelmingly want  this aid to end anyway...

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Iran's blundering revolution celebrations and waning Arab support

Iran's blundering revolution celebrations and waning Arab support Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Iran, Middle East, Updates    

Wednesday was the 33rd anniversary of the return from exile of Iran's then-revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In celebration, the Iranian regime chose to stage a reenactment of the triumphant moment, with the Iranian airforce marching a larger than life cutout of the Ayatollah off an airplane in an elaborate parade.

Photographs of the event were made available on the semi-official Mehr news agency and have since created an Iranian viral sensation. David Goodman has reported the response...

The Muslim Brotherhood's Radical Plan for Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood's Radical Plan for Egypt Author: Eric Trager Categories: Egypt    

When the third and final round of Egypt's parliamentary elections concluded on January 11, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) cemented its dominance of the next legislature. Although the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces still holds executive power, the FJP's political victory promises radical changes for Egypt, including a theocratic domestic program and a confrontational foreign policy. Western states should have no illusions about the party's aims or ability to moderate.

One year on: how much has changed in Egypt?

One year on: how much has changed in Egypt? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Updates    

The New York TimesLede blog is commemorating the one year anniversary of the beginning of the Egyptian revolution through a post containing reflections by an Egyptian activist, interspersed with footage he took from the protests in Cairo on 25 January last year. The piece is quite moving and manages to recapture the sense of optimism and determination that was being felt at the time:

Although the battles would continue later that evening and over the following days, we all knew that something profound had just happened. There was a raised collective consciousness amongst us...

How different to the feeling now?...

The Muslim Brotherhood's plan for Egypt/ PA PM Fayyad speaks out on Iran

The Muslim Brotherhood's plan for Egypt/ PA PM Fayyad speaks out on Iran Categories: Egypt, Iran, Palestinians, Updates    

This Updates leads with two articles on the likely policies of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood now that it has won the parliamentary election, gaining approximately 41% of seats with other Islamist groups taking the Islamist bloc up to something like 2/3 of all seats.

First up is Washington Institute expert on Egyptian politics Eric Trager, looking at the likely agenda of the Brotherhood in power. He says that the agenda will be theocracy internally, and confrontation internationally, and that expectations that the group will moderate are very unlikely to be met - offering some behavioural evidence for this.

"Observing" the massacres in Syria/ Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood

"Observing" the massacres in Syria/ Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Syria, Updates    

Today's Update features two pieces on the situation in Syria, where 20 civilians were reportedly killed yesterday, bringing the death toll close to 6,000 according to rebel leaders, despite the presence of a team of Arab League observers in the country.

First up is David Kenner of Foreign Policy, detailing the fact that the head of the Arab League observers mission, Sudanese Gen. Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, is himself alleged to have been involved in genocide in Darfur. The allegations are that General al-Dabi was responsible for creating the Arab "Janjaweed" militias responsible for most of the massacres there. Kenner makes it clear that given this and other problems with the Arab League mission, which he discusses, "Syrians are still very much alone."

New order, same rules

New order, same rules Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Libya, Op-eds, Tunisia    

Will the Arab revolutions bring freedom for women? So far the signs are bad.

Many women in post-revolution Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are concerned. During the Arab Spring they played a key part in the protests by taking to the streets, marching and protesting alongside men. As the old order fell, hopes for new-found freedoms and political liberties surged, and women's rights were no exception. Yet some of the new regimes have been quick to reinforce laws and norms limiting these rights, justifying it as a return to values undermined by previous regimes...

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Antisemitism in the Middle East in 1835

Antisemitism in the Middle East in 1835 Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Antisemitism, Egypt, Updates    

In the editorial in the current January edition of the Australia/Israel Review, Colin Rubenstein takes on the false belief that antisemitism in the Middle East comes almost solely from the conflict with Israel and will disappear if there is an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal

In the course of the editorial, Colin noted:

It is true that, in medieval times, Jews in Muslim societies tended on the whole to be better off than in Christian Europe, but this is hardly to suggest that their human rights were fully respected.

Now, some material has come to light which illustrates this point brilliantly.

Editorial: The Perils of Self-Deception Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Antisemitism, Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel    

The US Ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, addressing a conference on antisemitism on November 30, controversially insisted that Muslim "hatred and indeed sometimes... violence directed at Jews generally [is] a result of the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories" and should therefore not be seen as the same thing as "real" antisemitism. He went on to insist that a Mideast peace deal would see a "huge reduction of this form of labeled ‘antisemitism'."

Liberal Egypt's Fall

Liberal Egypt's Fall Author: Amr Bargisi & Samuel Tadros Categories: Egypt    

When the Egyptian revolution came, we stayed home. We are young, liberal Egyptian activists who have dedicated our lives to bettering our country. But from the moment in January the crowds took over Tahrir Square calling for President Hosni Mubarak's ouster, we urged observers, particularly Western idealists already hailing the triumph of the new Egypt, to be cautious. We reminded them of Edmund Burke's truism: Bringing down a tyrant is far, far easier than forming a free government.

Egypt's Other Islamist Party

Egypt's Other Islamist Party Author: Eric Trager Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism    

The real surprise is the emergence of the Salafist al-Nour party, a deeply theocratic organisation that bases its ideology on a literal reading of the Koran and Sunna and, most astoundingly, didn't exist until a few months ago. Although Salafist political activity was, unlike the Brotherhood, completely banned under the Mubarak regime, al-Nour is giving the Brotherhood a run for its money in some districts.

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Egypt's Salafists/ The Forgotten Refugees

Egypt's Salafists/ The Forgotten Refugees Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Updates    

This Update features two pieces on one of the unpleasant surprises to come out of the first round of the Egyptian elections last week, the unexpectedly strong showing of the hyper-Islamist Al-Nour Salafist parties, who got 24.4% of the vote, second behind the also Islamist Muslim Brotherhood with 36%. Both reports are from analysts currently on the ground in Cairo.

Washington Institute scholar Eric Trager describes his own encounters with Salafist candidates and activists, as well as locals who support them. He finds them viewed by locals as honest, even saintly, despite the fact that they seem to have considerable inexplicable money for their campaign and it is unclear where this came from.

Anti-Semitism and the Arab Spring

Anti-Semitism and the Arab Spring Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Antisemitism, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Updates    

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, expressions of explicit anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish sentiments are beginning to surge. In Middle East politics, it has long beem traditional to point a finger at Israel, "the Zionists" and "the Jews", who were blamed for all the problems of the Muslim and Arab worlds. "The Jews" were used by the regimes as a convenient distraction from their own peoples' misery and hardship, and its causes. Many had hoped that the Arab spring indicated a turn for the better and an end to this racist and counter-productive tradition, since intitially, Israel was hardly even mentioned as a cause for the fate of Arab societies. For once, the finger of blame was rightly being pointing at their own dictatorial regimes. Sadly, as prominent American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg has noted,

Now in Cairo, and across the Arab Middle East, Israel and the Jews are serving once again as universal boogeymen. Once dictators used anti-Semitism to divert their citizens' attention away from their own problems. Now expressions of the most ridiculous conspiracy theories seem to rise up organically.

This truth doesn't conform to the generally accepted narrative of the Arab Spring, but ignoring it won't make it disappear.

Islamists poised to win Egyptian elections

Islamists poised to win Egyptian elections Categories: Egypt, Updates    

As readers are probably aware, in the first round of voting in Egypt earlier this week, the Muslim Brotherhood did even better than many polls had predicted, as did the even more extreme Salafists. This Update is devoted to analysis of this outcome.

First up is Israeli academic Barry Rubin, who says that he was criticised for being too pessimistic in projecting an Islamist win in Egypt - but the results from the first round are worse than anything he predicted. He points out that the "Facebook" liberals that started the revolution got barely 5% of the vote, and that things may well get even more extreme with the next round of voting...

 Ilan Grapel tells his story

Ilan Grapel tells his story Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Egypt, Updates    

Ilan Grapel, a twenty seven year old American-Israeli was finally released on October 27 in exchange for 25 Egyptian prisoners in Israel, after having spent four months in an Egyptian jail due to false allegations of espionage. In 2009, he was a Goldmann Fellow at AIJAC's Melbourne office.

A month after his release, Grapel has told his story in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth. Grapel describes how he spent 150 days in a four-by-four metre room, two weeks of which he spent in complete confinement that made him "nearly lose his mind".

Egypt's chaos

Egypt's chaos Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Egypt, Updates    

In the lead up to Egypt's first ‘free and fair' election, the streets of Cairo have become increasingly chaotic.

On November 25, tens of thousands of people protested in Tahrir Square demanding an end to the military rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has ruled Egypt since former president Hosni Mubarak lost power in February. More than a week of civil unrest and government crackdowns left 42 people dead and 3000 injured.

There are not only tensions between political parties in Egypt but also a resentment of ‘foreigners' - seen in conspiracy theories of ‘foreign meddling' in Egyptian politics, and also in recent attacks on foreign journalists including sexual assaults.

Embracing Brotherhood welcomes not democracy but war

Embracing Brotherhood welcomes not democracy but war Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Tunisia, Updates    

As the AP reported on Sunday, the final results of the recent Moroccan elections confirm a victory, if not a majority, for Morocco's Islamist party. These elections form a part of the series of reforms implemented by the Moroccan King in order to quell the country's brief spell of Arab Spring-style protests.

Announcing final results Sunday, the ministry said the Justice and Development Party has taken 107 seats in the 395-seat legislature following the nationwide vote two days earlier.

The PJD - known by its French initials - is the latest Islamist party to win an election brought about by the Arab Spring. The right-of-center Istiqlal, a potential ally for the PJD, placed second with 60 seats.

Morocco may be the most recent country to have ostensibly voted an Islamist party into power, but it will not be the last...

Arab Spring or Islamist Surge?

Arab Spring or Islamist Surge? Author: Benny Morris Categories: Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Tunisia    

Rioting in Tunisia and Egypt in early 2011 unleashed a tidal wave of unrest across the Arab world that was soon designated the "Arab Spring." Enthusiasts in the West hailed a new birth of freedom for a giant slice of humanity that has been living in despotic darkness for centuries. But historians in 50 or a hundred years may well point to the 1979 events in Teheran - the Islamist revolution that toppled the Shah - as the real trigger of this so-called "spring" (which is looking more and more like a deep, forbidding winter). And the Islamist Hamas victory in the Palestinian general elections of 2006 and that organisation's armed takeover of the Gaza Strip the following year probably signified further milestones on the same path.

Disastrous Elections vs. Bloody Civil War in Egypt

Disastrous Elections vs. Bloody Civil War in Egypt Author: Barry Rubin Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism    

Only days before parliamentary elections, Egypt was in a huge crisis whose outcome will determine the future of almost 80 million people and perhaps the Arabic-speaking world's fate for decades to come.

Will the army go ahead with elections that will be won by the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Salafist groups, thus producing an Islamist regime?

Or will it cancel elections, declare martial law in some form, and set off a passionate civil conflict?

Or will it find some compromise that quiets the disorder but doesn't solve the problems?

 

Essay: Springing Forward or Falling Back?

Essay: Springing Forward or Falling Back? Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia    

Historically, following many of the revolutions in the Arab and Muslim world, previous traditions hindering women's rights and limiting their role in politics and society have been reinstated.

The deterioration in women's rights after the revolution in Algeria ended in 1962, and the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1979 created frightening precedents for many women.

Is this recurring in the recent "Arab Spring" revolutions in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt? Women have played a key part in these revolutions, yet some of the new regimes have been quick to reinforce laws and norms that limit women's rights, justifying it as a return to values undermined or damaged by the previous regime.

 

An Exodus from Sinai

An Exodus from Sinai Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Egypt, Israel, Sudan, Updates    

The Sinai is not only a haven for terrorists, but it also a centre of people and organ smuggling.

The depth of the lawlessness was recently captured in CNN documentary "Death in the Desert", which reported on unimaginable violence experienced by Africans who cross the Sinai in the desperate attempt to make it to Israel.

Africans particularly from Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea fleeing their local hardships pay Bedouin tribes in the border area between Sudan and Egypt around $2,000 to be smuggled into Israel. But these smugglers often imprison and blackmail the helpless refugees or sell them to other Sinai Bedouin, who do the same, rather than fulfilling the deal.  If the Africans cannot pay the ransom, and sometimes even if they do pay, they are enslaved, raped, tortured and killed.

Worsening Middle East instability

Worsening Middle East instability Categories: Egypt, Jordan, Middle East, Syria, Updates    

This Update provides analysis of the increasingly "Arab Spring" instability which seems to be developing across the Middle East - in Egypt, Syria and Jordan.

First up are Washington Institute experts David Schenker and Eric Trager on the background and implications to the re-ignition of significant violence between Egypt's military SCAF goverment, and protestors gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square over the weekend - which has led to the death of upwards of 24 people and hundreds of injuries.

AIJAC welcomes release of former researcher Ilan Grapel; "victim of judicial kidnapping".

AIJAC welcomes release of former researcher Ilan Grapel; "victim of judicial kidnapping". Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Egypt, Media Releases    

The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council has welcomed the release yesterday by Egypt of Ilan Grapel, who served as a visiting research fellow in its Melbourne office in 2009.

A law student at Emory University in Atlanta, USA, Mr. Grapel travelled to Egypt early this year to volunteer for a charity helping develop civil society there before being arrested in early June amidst allegations he was an Israeli agent. He was held for more than four months without any charges being formally laid against him...

 

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Ilan Grapel and AIJAC

Ilan Grapel and AIJAC Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Antisemitism, Australasia, Egypt, Media/ Academia, Updates    

As readers will note from the accompanying media release, AIJAC is very relieved and pleased that Ilan Grapel, a bright young Israeli-American student, has now been released after more than four months of detention in Egypt. Ilan served a 2009 stint in AIJAC's Melbourne's office as a visiting Goldman Fellow, part of a program run by our American partner, the American Jewish Committee...

In honour of the occasion of his release, it seems worth recalling some of the work Ilan did for AIJAC back in 2009...

Meanwhile, there has been some interesting discussion internationally about the motivations for Grapel's arrest and detention by Egypt's interim government, and what it says about where Egypt is going...

The Shalit prisoner swap agreement - The Arab reaction

The Shalit prisoner swap agreement - The Arab reaction Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinians, Syria, Terrorism, Updates    

Many reactions in the Palestinian street and media to the release of prisoners in exchange for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit reveal a worrying and disturbing narrative of glorification of the returning terrorists and support for their heinous crimes and violent ways. Calls for future abductions of Israeli soldiers as bargaining chips for future prisoner releases were also common.

Not so new Middle East for Jews

Not so new Middle East for Jews Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

It would appear that there is no room for Jews in the Arab Spring.

Last year, before the Arab Spring, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas caused outrage when she recommended that Israeli Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go back home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else."

As an American of Lebanese descent, the 89-year-old Thomas should have known that the Arab Middle East was home to approximately 850,000 Jews known as Mizrahi (Eastern) Jews for thousands of years.

 

In 1949, who wanted a Palestinian state? Only Israel!

In 1949, who wanted a Palestinian state? Only Israel! Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Middle East, Palestinians, United Nations, Updates    

It won't stop the revisionist propaganda underpinning the Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence campaign, but newspaper accounts from 1949 prove that the nascent State of Israel supported the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza and opposed the land being absorbed by surrounding Arab countries.

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Coptic Christians killed in ugly sign for hopes of Egyptian democracy

Coptic Christians killed in ugly sign for hopes of Egyptian democracy Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Egypt, Updates    

Violent clashes between Coptic Christians and Egyptian Security forces on Sunday have killed at least 26 people mostly Christian and injured over 300 people. The clashes mark the worst violence in Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

It started when thousands of Copts protested outside a state television station over the September 30 burning of a church in Aswan and demanded that the military sack the governor of Aswan, who had backed the burning and blamed the Copts for provoking it. It was also a protest against the role of state media inciting violence against Coptic Christians. When clashes broke out between protestors and security forces, some Muslims tried to support the Copts and joined in the call for resignation of the military council's chairman, Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi. However, security forces were later joined by Muslim groups who attacked the Copts. According to the Associated Press, state television called on viewers to rush to the army's rescue, "casting the Christians as a mob seeking to undermine unity between the people and the military".

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Editorial: Autumn follows Spring Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Turkey    

It has become increasingly clear that, sadly, the Arab upheavals that swept the Middle East this year are not resulting in a democratic "Arab Spring". Rather an "Islamist awakening" seems to be occurring alongside a resurgence of extreme Arab nationalism.

The middle class crowds demanding "freedom" and "democracy" seem to have lost the battle for the streets in Cairo and elsewhere. The old demons of violent, conspiratorial anti-Americanism and antisemitism, which seemed so blessedly absent in the initial demonstrations, are back with a vengeance.

Setbacks and Opportunity

Setbacks and Opportunity Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Turkey    

The year was 1958 and Israel had noticed that Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser's agitation across the Middle East was disagreeable to many of his non-Arab neighbours. Israel therefore emerged with what came to be known as the "Periphery Strategy", which focused on Ethiopia, Iran and Turkey and even wooed Lebanon's and Sudan's Christian minorities, Iraq's Kurds, and Morocco's Berbers.

Cairo's Embassy Riots and Egyptian Opinion

Cairo's Embassy Riots and Egyptian Opinion Author: Eric Trager Categories: Egypt, Israel    

The diplomatic documents had barely stopped drifting down from the Israeli Embassy in Egypt when New York Times columnist Nick Kristof referenced the root causes of the attack, as he saw them: "Attacking the Israeli embassy doesn't help Gazans, doesn't bring back the dead," he tweeted. "Instead it helps Israeli hardliners." It was the standard response of an armchair analyst, for whom all Middle Eastern current events - and particularly the most outrageous ones - are inextricably linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What is really behind Israel’s worsening relations with Egypt and Turkey?

What is really behind Israel’s worsening relations with Egypt and Turkey? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, Turkey, Updates    

There is no question that Israel's strategic environment at the moment is looking grimmer than it has in a while. Its long-standing good relations, at times something close to an alliance, with Turkey appear to be history. Meanwhile, following the Cairo embassy attack last Friday, it became clearer than ever that the cold peace that has prevailed between Israel and Egypt for more than 30 years - a core component of Israel's security planning - is at serious risk...

There is a tendency to assume among many editorialists and pundits that this deterioration must have occurred because Israel has supposedly been intransigent, particularly in terms of offering insufficient concessions to the Palestinians.

Noted American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg has pointed out that this automatic, conventional analysis actually has it backwards.

Egypt and the Attack on Israel's Embassy

Egypt and the Attack on Israel's Embassy Categories: Egypt, Israel, Updates    

As readers are probably aware, there was a serious attack on Israel's embassy in Cairo on Friday by an Egyptian mob, which saw the Embassy ransacked, several staff members trapped inside for hours before they were rescued and, eventually, all staff evacuated from the country except for the Deputy Ambassador. (Blogger "Elder of Ziyon" collected some very salient on the spot reporting about what actually happened at the embassy - including how Egyptian authorities refused to stop the crowd's attack, while protecting the Saudi Embassy on the next block, and how both the mob and soldiers reportedly targeted journalists for violent attack.) Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's statement on the attack is here.

This Update looks at the wider implications of the attack for both Israeli-Egyptian relations and the outcome of the Egyptian revolution.

Rocket Attacks, Hamas and Israeli Deterrence

Rocket Attacks, Hamas and Israeli Deterrence Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Rockets continue to be fired at Israel from Gaza, despite yet another ceasefire being called...

AIJAC recommends a new twitter feed - QassamCount - which provides realtime info on all of the rocket attacks, including where they hit and any damage done.

Most commentators seem to think that Gaza's Hamas rulers want a ceasefire and they certainly keep calling them... So why do rockets keep falling?

Video - Ehud Yaari on Iran's Gaza Missile Gambit, Trouble in Cairo and more Categories: Egypt, Iran, Israel, Multimedia, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Israel's respected Middle East Analyst Ehud Yaari speaks to Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Weisenthal Centre on the main reason behind Iran's Gaza Missile Gambit; Why Hezbollah is quiet (so far); Post-Tahrir Sq trouble in Cairo, as over 100 groups urge government to sever ties with Israel; Iron Dome's surprising and promising results...

The Debate over Re-militarising the Sinai

The Debate over Re-militarising the Sinai Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Israel, Terrorism, Updates    

Following the recent outbreak of terror attacks on the porous border between Egypt, Israel and Gaza, debate in Israel has been focussed on how best to prevent this violence from reoccurring. Egypt has been engaged in similar considerations, deploying 1,500 troops in the Sinai yesterday, supposedly to prevent a terror attack by Islamic Jihad that intelligence had warned of. Furthermore, according to MEMRI, reports surfaced last night that the Egyptian Government was considering implementing a buffer zone along the border with Gaza in a bid to crack down on the weapons smuggling that has become rife over the last few months; although these reports were swiftly denied. The Economist gave a good summary this week of the position that Israel finds itself in:

Israel faces a dilemma with far-reaching strategic consequences. Thirty years of peace with Egypt have rested, above all, on a demilitarised Sinai. The peninsula is patrolled by an international force and monitored by America from the air, to ensure that both sides keep their armies out, even though Sinai is sovereign Egyptian soil. Until now, Israel had said no to Egyptian demands to let more troops on to the peninsula...

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Scribblings: De-Press-ing in Egypt Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Anti-Zionism, Egypt, Israel    

With the departure of the Mubarak dictatorship, one thing it would be nice to hope for would be a freer and more responsible and professional press in Egypt. Traditionally, the Egyptian press has been government controlled, and used to both bolster the regime and spread anti-Israel hatred together with, very frequently, conspiracy theories. But achieving anything resembling genuine democracy in Egypt is going to require media independence and a freer, more responsible press.

Early signs are not promising. For instance, following the cross-border terrorist incident near Eilat on August 18, in which five Egyptian security officers were killed allegedly by Israeli fire, it is perhaps not surprising, that the Egyptian media played up the story, and especially the Egyptian deaths allegedly at Israel's hand, big-time. After all, they do need to sell papers and/or attract viewers.

Hamas versus Iran - Strange bedfellows falling out over Syria?

Hamas versus Iran - Strange bedfellows falling out over Syria? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Iran, Palestinians, Syria, Updates    

According to a potentially very significant news story, Hamas and its long-time key patron, Iran, have had a falling out over the unrest in Syria...

While it is much too early to predict that the Hamas-Iran split will be permanent, if this did happen, it would be a major re-alignment of the Middle Eastern map, with important implications...

Libya after Gaddafi/ The Aftermath of the Eilat Attack

Libya after Gaddafi/ The Aftermath of the Eilat Attack Categories: Egypt, Israel, Libya, Updates    

As readers are doubtless aware, Libyan rebels are in the capital, Tripoli, and the fall of the Gaddafi regime now looks imminent. This Update features an article and some good links on the complex question of what might happen next. It also features some material on the ongoing tense situation on Israel's southern border where rockets continue to be fired into Israel from Gaza despite a supposed new ceasefire (see also here and here) and Egypt and Israel have had a public spat over the cross-border raid on Thursday which killed 8 Israelis, but which also apparently resulted in the death of three Egyptian security officers, possibly from Israeli fire.

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Terror Attack near Eilat/ Settlement Controversies again

Terror Attack near Eilat/ Settlement Controversies again Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

As readers are probably aware, there was a major terror attack in southern Israel yesterday, the most serious in a number of years, in which 8 Israelis were killed by a group of terrorists who apparently crossed from Gaza into Sinai, and then into Israel (a useful timeline on the attack is here). Israel responded with airstrikes in Gaza that reportedly killed the leader of the group believed responsible, together with five other terrorists.

The attack raises questions about diminished Egyptian control of Sinai, as well as the growth of extreme Salafist Islamist groups in both the Sinai and Gaza. As Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak stated: " The incident reflects the weakness of Egypt’s hold over Sinai and the spread of terrorist elements."

Egypt restoring order to Sinai

Egypt restoring order to Sinai Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Updates    

Following on from this post concerning the growing lawlessness in the Sinai, Haaretz has reported today that Egypian authorities have now taken action to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

Egyptian security forces, pushing ahead with a crackdown on armed groups in lawless northern Sinai, on Tuesday seized four armed militants as they prepared to blow up a gas pipeline in the city of el-Arish, security sources said...

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Puppetry of the Predictable

Puppetry of the Predictable Author: Allon Lee Categories: Antisemitism, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, Updates    

An Egyptian religious TV channel has broadcast a mock trial of former leader Hosni Mubarak, who appears as a puppet, and is accused by child prosecutors, of being, essentially, a puppet of Israel.

The clip on al Hekma TV, includes a number of anti-Israel slurs that feed into the recurring motif of Israel and Jews as spoilers and poisoners of Egyptian society.

 

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Egypt - Opponents of Islamism Uniting?

Egypt - Opponents of Islamism Uniting? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

In Egypt, it is being reported that 14 political groups opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties there have united to form a new bloc - called the "The Egyptian Bloc" - to compete in the upcoming parliamentary elections...

This seems to be good news - a sign that the liberal forces which sparked the Egyptian revolution, and have not only looked unprepared for the elections, but been largely driven from the streets in recent weeks, are perhaps starting to get their act together.

However, academic Barry Rubin warns that there are reasons not to get too excited about this news...

 

The Sinai "Badlands"

The Sinai "Badlands" Author: Tzvi Fleischer and Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Palestinians, Updates    

This blog has been following events in Egypt over the past few weeks, as the Islamist groups seem to have been becoming far more assertive, resulting in increased weapons smuggling to Hamas in Gaza and, potentially, a cosier relationship between Egypt and Iran.

The Sinai Peninsula, inhabited mostly by various Bedouin tribes, sits between the Egyptian heartland and the Israeli border, and has long been an area which the central Egyptian government has struggled to fully control. Smuggling from Sinai into Gaza has been a constant source of Israeli-Egyptian disagreement over recent years, with Israel urging Egypt to make greater efforts to prevent this, and Egyptian efforts in this regard fluctuating.

Unfortunately, as Alex Joffe has observed in Jewish Ideas Daily, recent events in Sinai following the Egyptian  have been far from encouraging...

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The Trial of Mubarak… and some Pitfalls

The Trial of Mubarak… and some Pitfalls Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Updates    

The trial of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, which began last week, is certainly attracting a great deal of attention in Egypt. And it is a dramatic event - a symbol of the success of the Egyptian people in toppling a seemingly entrenched autocrat who had been in power for almost 35 years, and their desire to escape from the corruption and lack of freedom which characterised his rule. And yet a number of pieces have appeared arguing that the trial, the attention it is receiving, the way it is conducted, the outcome, and the reception in the streets may have potentially ominous consequences for the future of the Egyptian revolution.

Just What Exactly is Going On in Egypt?

Just What Exactly is Going On in Egypt? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

While most eyes have been directed at the public spectacle of the trial of former dictator Hosni Mubarak, a less visible but far more important trial has been facing Egypt as a whole. As Sharyn outlined on Wednesday, the increasing show of strength by Islamist forces in Egypt has dramatically altered the fabric of Egypt's revolution.

The watershed moment came last Friday, when Islamist groups flooded Tahrir square - which had been occupied for months by liberal activists attempting to pressure the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) - in order to reclaim the revolution from the "infidel liberals". The square was promptly emptied by the armed forces, leaving the heart of Egypt's revolution lying empty and posing numerous questions about the future.

The Brookings Institute's Khaled Elgindy has written a detailed outline of the broad political landscape currently displayed in post-revolutionary Egypt...

Israel's "Tent Protest" Movement/ Inside the Egyptian Revolution

Israel's "Tent Protest" Movement/ Inside the Egyptian Revolution Categories: Egypt, Israel, Updates    

This Update features material explaining the Tent protest movement which continues to dominant the news inside Israel. It also offers an inside view from Cairo on the precarious state of the Egyptian revolution.

We lead with a useful BICOM (Britain-Israel Communications and Research Centre) backgrounder on the tent protests. It offers some detailed explanation of the make-up and goals of the movement - which began over housing but has now increased its demands to incorporate many other social issues - as well as its implications for the Netanyahu Government. It explains that the timing of the movement, which follows on from some previous public campaigns, but is also facilitated by summer vacation and pleasant weather, and relative quiet on the security front.

Post revolutionary Egypt: An Arab Winter?

Post revolutionary Egypt: An Arab Winter? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Egypt, Updates    

Recent events and polling in Egypt indicate that pro-democracy activists are weakening, and that Egypt may be heading down an Islamist path.

New polls not only suggest that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood is likely to win the November election, but also that Amr Moussa, known for his criticism of Israel will be elected President. The polls also reveal that a majority of respondents want to amend or revoke the peace agreement with Israel.

Another worrying trend is the rise of the Islamic Sulafi movement - which calls for Egypt to become an Islamic state under Sharia law. Their force in Egyptian politics was recently on display on Friday July 29, when over 100,000 protestors demonstrated in Tahrir Square calling for an Islamic state.

 

Arab Spring yields a Murky Summer

Arab Spring yields a Murky Summer Author: Yehonathan Tommer Categories: Egypt, Middle East, Syria, Turkey    

The acclaimed "Arab Spring" has given way to a murky summer, dominated by uncertainty, fog and danger as much as democratic hopes, according to academic experts. Some of the movements for reform which blossomed across the region earlier this year may take a long time to mature into democratic regimes resembling those in Eastern Europe which emerged after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Others may simply wilt and decay.

Threats from Iran, Ambivalence from Egypt

Threats from Iran, Ambivalence from Egypt Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Iran, Updates    

As translated by Iranian defector Reza Kahlili, Iranian Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Naghdi responded to the recent assassination of an Iranian scientist, shot by an unidentified man on a motorcycle, by saying:

The main plot for this criminal act was conceived by the American government, and since it is scared of the reaction by the Muslim world due to the uprisings in the region, it had the Zionist regime commit the heinous act... In order to protect the security of our country, we have no option but to have the Zionist regime wiped off the map...

Gaza Arms Smuggling Thrives After Mubarak’s Fall

Gaza Arms Smuggling Thrives After Mubarak’s Fall Author: Geoffrey Levin Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

The fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February led to a sharp increase in weapons smuggling to the Gaza Strip and continues today, according to a recent piece by Israeli security correspondent Ron Ben-Yishai. In the past six months alone, Bedouin smugglers have transferred three times the quantity of industrial explosives to Gaza as they did in all of 2010, as Gaza's terrorist organisations roughly doubled their number of rockets to an estimate 10,000, an amount equivalent to Hezbollah's arsenal at the start of the 2006 War.

Can Hamas be coaxed into changing its tune?

Can Hamas be coaxed into changing its tune? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Libya, Terrorism, Updates    

Lawlessness in North Africa appears to have opened up a new route for weapons smuggling into Gaza. Reuters has reported Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon explaining that weapons are now being smuggled from Libya through Egypt and into the Palestinian enclave.

"Weapons are available in Libya as a result of the unstable situation there, and Hamas has exploited it to buy weapons from Libyan smugglers," Yaalon told foreign journalists in a briefing, without elaborating on the kind of munitions involved.

The prospect of more weapons being funneled to Hamas is rather grim for Israel, suggesting that the conflict will never end...

Military works to maintain control as Egyptian democracy hangs in the balance

Military works to maintain control as Egyptian democracy hangs in the balance Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

Following renewed unrest and a large public outcry against what is perceived as reluctance to dismantle the old regime, the Egyptian interim government is set to announce a major reshuffling of its cabinet today, with several senior ministers - including the Finance Minster and the Foreign Minister - resigning over the weekend. This comes shortly after the Government backed-down from an attempt to postpone elections. As The Washington Post's Ernesto Londono reports:

The expected exit of more than half of the Egyptian cabinet's members comes amid complaints that the interim military rulers have been slow to enact meaningful reforms. Activists say that the generals have failed to dismantle the power structure that remained largely intact when President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February...

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More scrutiny needed on Egypt's Islamist extremists

More scrutiny needed on Egypt's Islamist extremists Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

The prolific and insightful Dr Barry Rubin has written today on the Elephant in the Egyptian Parliament: namely, the overwhelming complicity that Egyptians seem to show towards Islamists and the worrying influence that extreme groups seem to be gaining.

Think about it. There is a powerful Muslim Brotherhood, openly seeking state power and Egypt's fundamental transformation into an Islamist state. Then there are the Salafists-a new label applied to even more radical Islamist groups-that were in the past simply called by the name of the individual organization...

Could Australia's closest neighbour be a key to Middle East democracy?

Could Australia's closest neighbour be a key to Middle East democracy? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Egypt, Updates    

Being the country with the world's largest Muslim population, Indonesia's success in transitioning from a dictatorship to a relatively functional democracy over a short period of time arguably makes it the perfect example for the nations in the Middle East now attempting a similar feat. Giora Eliraz, author of Islam in Indonesia: Modernism, Radicalism and the Middle East Dimension certainly thinks so - observing that despite a traditional Arab disdain for South-East Asian Muslims, Egypt has been clandestinely working with the Indonesian authorities on developing a democratic model.

As he points out, Indonesia is perhaps a better partner in democracy building than the more obvious choice, Turkey, as the latter is...

 

Scratching Egypt's surface: radical Islam, Holocaust denial and 9/11 "truthers"

Scratching Egypt's surface: radical Islam, Holocaust denial and 9/11 "truthers" Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Updates    

In an unprecedented interview that would not have been possible until very recently, MSNBC's Richard Engel has spoken to Aboud al-Zomor, a man who has been locked away tightly in the depths of Egypt's penal system since he was convicted of orchestrating the assassination of then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Zomor was one of the founders of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), a militant offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. His number two and successor was Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian doctor who later brought EIJ under the umbrella of al-Qaeda and has recently gone on to replace bin Laden...

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Europe's Israel obsession/Egypt's culture of hate Categories: Anti-Zionism, Egypt, Europe, Updates    

Today's Update looks at the worrying phenomenon of European efforts and involvement in a range of anti-Israel activities and movements, including the second Gaza flotilla. First up, University of Paris Professor Guy Milliere writes on the efforts of Britain and European countries and citizenry to support boycotts of Israel, fund NGOs that work to delegitimise Israel, and are encouraging the Palestinian push to have the United Nations Security Council recognise a State of Palestine on 1967 borders. Milliere argues that Israel's positive story clashes with the resentment filled British/European psyche that has become warped by moral relativism.

To democracy or dictatorship? The US to engage the Muslim Brotherhood

To democracy or dictatorship? The US to engage the Muslim Brotherhood Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

US Secretary of State announced last night that her administration plans to form some limited contact with the previously shunned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This report comes just two weeks after the Brotherhood became a legal party in Egypt - for the first time in 80 years. Reuters quoted Clinton explaining her rationale for this decision:

"We believe, given the changing political landscape in Egypt, that it is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are...

Egypt's Islamists/ Signs Iran racing toward nukes

Egypt's Islamists/ Signs Iran racing toward nukes Categories: Egypt, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

This Update leads with a long but important feature on how Islamist forces are increasingly dominating politically in Egypt, and especially how they are persecuting and overawing the country's large Coptic Christian minority. The piece by Yamin el-Rashidi, published in the New York Review of Books, takes us inside the Coptic community and lets the reader perceive events in Egypt, including the apparent collaboration of the country's military rulers in the persecution, as they see it. The piece also examines the strong belief by the Muslim Brotherhood and other "Salafis", supported by other observers, that they will dominate the country after the coming election.

Peace polling improves in Post-Revolutionary Egypt Author: Geoff Levin Categories: Egypt, Israel, Updates    

A new study has indicated that two-thirds of all Egyptians support maintaining the Arab republic's 1979 peace agreement with Israel.

The poll, conducted by the Egyptian government's Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC), showed that 67% of those responding want to uphold the historic Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty signed between Anwar Sadat and Menacham Begin. Of the 1,062 respondents, only 11% want the deal entirely scrapped, 2% want some clauses removed, and 20% declined to respond. Among those surveyed, 56% said they were satisfied with the country's current situation, and 87% plan to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Egyptian Education and the attacks on Coptic Christians Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Antisemitism, Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Updates    

In post-revolutionary Egypt, Coptic Christians have been increasingly attacked in aseries of bloody clashes. In March, armed thugs bulldozed a church allegedly over an illicit relationship between a Coptic man and a Muslim woman. This led to riots and clashes that left thirteen people dead and 140 wounded. No arrests were made and no one was charged.

Egypt's Christian minority community accounts for some 10 percent of the country's 82 million people and they fear further incidents of violence and persecution.

A new report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE), suggests that the attacks against Egyptian Coptic Christians are largely fuelled by the Egyptian school curricula, which is laden with anti-Semitic and anti-Christian sentiment. IMPACT-SE is calling for Egypt to reform its curricula in order to comply with UNESCO standards.

Inside Syria's popular rebellion/ Egypt's problematic drift

Inside Syria's popular rebellion/ Egypt's problematic drift Categories: Egypt, Syria, Updates    

Today's Update features two pieces looking inside the increasingly important Syrian popular rebellion, now almost three months old. It also contains an interesting new look at recent developments in Egyptian politics in the run-up to the September elections.

The lead item is a fascinating account from inside Syria from unidentified journalists affiliated with the top German magazine, Der Spiegel. They find a country which "has disintegrated into a surreal patchwork of places where it is tense but quiet, and combat zones in which the regime's most loyal units are killing people indiscriminately." They tell many terrible stories of murder by forces of a regime whose policy is simply to "kill and hope" they can hold on to power, and speak to many ordinary Syrians, who seem overwhelmingly determined that it will not.

Australian Parliament raises concern for arrested student Ilan Grapel

Australian Parliament raises concern for arrested student Ilan Grapel Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: America, Australasia, Egypt, Israel, Updates    

On 22 June, Federal MP Jamie Briggs (Mayo, Lib.) made a speech in the House of Representatives drawing the Parliament's attention to the arrest in Egypt of American-Israeli Ilan Grapel. Mr. Grapel was arrested earlier this month for alleged involvement in espionage and formenting sectarian strife in Egypt. As Mr Briggs rightly points out: "These allegations at best seem far-fetched and when you consider that Mr Grapel is a regular visitor to the Middle East and had entered Egypt under his own name on his own passport [and] was posting daily messages on Facebook, the allegations do raise significant concern."

Mr Briggs also commented: "This is similar, sadly, to the five year anniversary of the detention of Israeli citizen Gilad Shalit, who has been held by Hamas since 2006."

Election Delay in Egypt?

Election Delay in Egypt? Author: Tzvi Flesicher Categories: Egypt, Updates    

The Egyptian Prime Minister, Essam Sharaf, reportedly hinted strongly yesterday that the parliamentary elections scheduled for September might be postponed until after a new constitution is drawn up, a process also supposed to begin in September. Such a postponement might well be the best news about Egypt's democratic prospects to have appeared in a while.

The Hamas-Fatah Pact revisited/ Egypt's Next President?

The Hamas-Fatah Pact revisited/ Egypt's Next President? Categories: Egypt, Palestinians, Updates    

As readers are probably aware, Hamas and Fatah signed a unity deal on Wednesday, following up on their announcement of the deal last week. This Update contains two pieces on the details and implications of that agreement.

First up is Washington Institute scholar David Makovsky who looks at the deal, the background that brought it about, and its implications for security and governance for both the Palestinians and Israel. He also examines the considerable challenges the deal will pose for US Middle East policy, including in terms of the considerable aid Washington provides to the PA at the moment. He is particularly good on the challenges that the pact will face from Israeli opposition, the loss of the internationally highly-regarded Palestinian PM Salam Fayad, and the potential loss of security support from Israel and the US.

Syria's unrest, Egypt's political transition

Syria's unrest, Egypt's political transition Categories: Egypt, Syria, Updates    

This Update concentrates on both the increasingly widespread protests in Syria, and the state of the political transition in Egypt, looking especially at the role of the Muslim Brotherhood there.

First up is a BICOM (British-Israel Communications and Research Centre) briefing on the state of the significant unrest in Syria. The paper reviews the conditions in Syria and predicts that a protracted period of strife looks likely. It goes on to examine the possible implications of the unrest, as well as any regime change, for both Israel and any peace prospects.

Deconstruction Zone: Half the Arab World Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Middle East    

Thousands of Egyptian women decided to again march to Tahrir Square and demand their rights. They sought not to make the regime crumble, but to mark the 100th International Women's Day on March 8. These protesters were met not by armed police, but by a larger group of men who proceeded to harass and grope the women

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Age Against The Machine Author: Walter Laqueur Categories: Egypt, Middle East    

The old order has crumbled in the Middle East, and it will never be the same again. But what made it crumble? The experts who had been arguing that the youth in the region constituted a listless generation that did not care about freedom and democracy have been proved wrong.

The Road to Tahrir Square Author: Michael Rubin Categories: Egypt    

The great surprise is not that millions took to the streets in Egypt, but rather that the United States had for so long predicated its regional security on Mubarak.

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From Dictatorship to Democracy? Author: Cameron Brown Categories: Egypt, Middle East    

So why is it some countries that ousted their dictators became full-fledged democracies, while others did not? In examining cases from around the world, three factors in particular seem to be decisive.

Watching, Worrying and Hoping Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Egypt, Israel, Libya, Middle East    

In the long run, the feeling in Jerusalem is that the mayhem across the Middle East will serve Israel's interests. The precedent whereby Arab citizenries demand their leaders deliver jobs, education and personal dignity is priceless.

Twitter no more than a tool for taking on tyrants

Twitter no more than a tool for taking on tyrants Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Middle East, Op-eds    

WITH the fall of Hosni Mubarak and Egypt's supposed transition to democracy, the buzz on everyone's lips has been the role of new media in the mass protests. Commentators around Australia and the globe have been heralding the arrival of technology as a cure for any political ailment.

The Path to Egyptian Democracy Categories: Egypt, Updates    

With the military now in charge in Egypt and promising to submit a revised constitution to a referendum in two months, and then proceed to a general election, the obvious question is; will this lead to something resembling genuine democracy in Egypt?

Some Significant Perspectives on Egypt Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Egypt, Updates    

With the Egyptian situation still both volatile and apparently stale-mated - after a decline in protest numbers, they now appear to be back up again - much continues to be written about what could happen, Western policy and the roots of the current situation.

Egypt boils over Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Op-eds    

Egypt has long been the centre of the Arab world. The unrest there could re-draw the map and place all Arab despots at risk. What would replace them is impossible to know. However, at the very least, their fall would grant an immense short-term boost to the forces of Middle East Islamist extremism as represented mainly by Iran and its allies.

Egypt and the Islamists Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Egypt, Updates    

With the crisis in Egypt apparently getting more violent and chaotic, this Update contains a number of pieces dealing with what most observers agree is the most worrying possible outcome of the Egyptian crisis, the possible takeover of Egypt by Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood.

Whither Egypt? Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Egypt, Middle East, Updates    

With the extensive coverage of the mass unrest in Egypt, and President Mubarak having announced (with a bit of a nudge from Washington) that he will neither be contesting the election in September nor leaving the country, this Update will focus on informed speculation about what might happen next in Egypt.

Egypt in Turmoil/ Hezbollah gets its way Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Egypt, Lebanon, Middle East, Updates    

Today's Update deals with the fallout from the extraordinary three days of protest in Egypt, following the example of Tunisia. It also has some analysis of Hezbollah's apparent success in getting its preferred candidate, businessman Najib Mikati, in position to become Lebanon's next PM.

Egypt's Year of Decision Author: Yehonathan Tommer Categories: Egypt    

Egypt's presidential election is still a year off. However, by October 2011, ailing President Hosni Mubarak will be 83 and have ruled the Land of the Pharaohs continuously for 30 years. But whether he steps down, tries to hold on for another term, or passes from the scene before a successor is appointed, next year's presidential elections will likely mark the end of an era.

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Essay: The Rebound Author: Zachary Abuza Categories: Asia, Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Lebanon, Terrorism    

Jemaah Islamiah has for more than 15 years fought to transform Indonesia into an Islamist state. In recent years, its terrorist campaign has suffered setbacks. As Jemaah Islamiah regroups, it builds upon the experience of Middle East terrorist groups.

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Philadelphi story Author: Yehonathan Tommer Categories: Egypt, Israel, Palestinians    

A primary target of the Israeli operation against Hamas in December and January was weapons smuggling tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian Sinai. This border zone is known as the Philadelphi corridor.

Ceasefire terms, and regional context for the Gaza conflict Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

The UN Security Council has just passed a somewhat ambiguous call for a Gaza ceasefire, which is supposed to be "immediate" and "durable". The Israeli papers largely agree that Israeli forces have now reached a decision point - will they go into Gaza's cities and engage in house to house fighting with Hamas forces or accept the ceasefire and talks proposed by Egypt and France

The Gaza Situation Author: AIJAC staff Categories: Egypt, Palestinians    

As readers will probably be aware, the difficult and complex situation in Gaza has continued to develop; the Hamas-Fatah fighting has been reduced by the latest ceasefire, but few Palestinians expect it to hold...