In a New York Times interview published on September 23, 2012, the new president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, makes his demand for a change in U.S. foreign policy if Egypt is to have a friendly relationship with the U.S. He states that the U.S. would have to give up “supporting Israel over the Palestinians.”
President Morsi, in effect, was echoing the position of people in the Arab world: the U.S. must end its close relationship with Israel to have peace with them, a relationship which every president since Harry Truman supported.
When the U.S. became the mediator between the State of Israel and the PLO, created by Yasser Arafat, the Palestinians recognized the existence of that special relationship. Notwithstanding its existence, they readily agreed to have the U.S. chair the negotiations. They and the Arab states knew that only the U.S. could get Israel to make concessions affecting its security when it was facing hostile Arab populations and Arab and Iranian armed forces vastly larger than its own that are at war with Israel. At the time the PLO had clauses in its Charter calling for the total destruction of the State of Israel.
Those relevant clauses were ultimately revoked by the PLO and Yasser Arafat, but they remain today in the Charter of Hamas which governs Gaza. The latter has been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union, the United Nations and Russia. It hopes one day to defeat the Fatah Party and its leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Abbas) in a general election to be held in both Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority knows that only with the assistance of the U.S. would it be possible to achieve a final accord with Israel, because no other nation could induce Israel to accept an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza threatening its very existence. Only the U.S. could provide the security assurances Israel needs to take the chance of allowing a Palestinian state to be created. Hamas defeated Fatah in an election in Gaza and then expelled Fatah from Gaza, leaving itself in sole control of Gaza.
In its position of mediator, the U.S. has demanded that Hamas revoke its Charter demanding the elimination of Israel, give up violence, and accept all agreements previously entered into by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It refuses to do so.
If President Morsi has his way, the U.S. would no longer be Israel’s ally. If the Palestinian Authority were asked would it prefer the U.S. to abandon its efforts to establish peace and a final accord between the parties or continue to assist the parties as mediator while maintaining its alliance with Israel, I have no doubt that it would opt for the latter.
In the September 23 Times interview, President Morsi said:
“If you want to judge the performance of the Egyptian people by the standards of German or Chinese or American culture, then there is no room for judgment. When the Egyptians decide something, probably it is not appropriate for the U.S. When the Americans decide something, this, of course, is not appropriate for Egypt.”
He and other Islamists, who believe in the use of terrorism to achieve their goals, demand that western civilization accept the Muslim philosophy that blasphemy, e.g., defaming the Prophet Muhammad, allows for deaths not only of Muslims but of others in western countries as well.
When the Danish newspaper Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten created cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in September 2005, it caused violent demonstrations in the Muslim world, ending in 100 deaths and the bombing and burning of Danish embassies in some Muslim countries. Then there was the Fatwah or death warrant demanding the death of Salman Rushdie who wrote a book deemed by Muslim clergy to be blasphemous. More recently a Christian girl in Pakistan, whose job it is to sweep trash, was found with a burned Koran. She has been charged with blasphemy. Many more situations exist where Muslim mobs rioted and in some cases killed to punish blasphemy, including episodes involving American soldiers in Afghanistan.
While Muslim countries have the right to impose their laws and mores upon their own citizens, they do not have the right to impose them on others. We in the U.S. and other western countries treasure the right of free speech. Our relationship with Egypt has clearly changed. As President Obama has said, it is no longer an ally. Our relationship henceforth should depend on what they do with each passing day as it relates to the interests of the U.S. Any financial support we give them should be conditioned upon their actions.
In his first foray into foreign affairs, President Obama delivered a speech in Cairo in June 2009 in which he sought a new beginning with the Arab world, “based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” The recent events in Egypt, including the election of an Islamist president, a leader of the Muslim brotherhood, and the sacking of the American embassy in Cairo, etc., have demonstrated the futility of his approach. President Obama should acknowledge this failure.
For the U.S. the concept of free speech covers the rude, crude, false and the blasphemous. Our response to that which offends us is to criticize but not to prohibit or seek by violence to deter.
We will not surrender our most precious and fundamental right to those Islamists and others opposed to those democratic liberties who threaten us with violence and death if we don’t surrender
It is the view of many that the Islamists in the Muslim world who rioted, alleging as the reason the video made by an American provocateur which blasphemed Muhammad, were simply using the video as a pretext. Their intention was to celebrate the catastrophe of 9/11 by other acts of terrorism on the anniversary date of the original infamous act.
I believe the hostility of Egypt’s president and government toward the U.S. is also the result of a decision by Egypt to recapture from Turkey the leadership of the Muslim world which it once enjoyed and was usurped by Turkey when it became Islamist and aggressively hostile to Israel.
Will we have the resolve to stand up and protect the lifestyles and mores of western civilization now under attack by the Islamists in a war that can and will probably last for decades or will we ultimately surrender? I believe we will fight for our freedoms as we did in World War II and once again prevail.