Wednesday, June 20th | 7 Tammuz 5778


Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

April 27, 2012 11:31 am

The Brinkmanship of Egyptian Gas Suppliers

avatar by Jeremy Rosen

Email a copy of "The Brinkmanship of Egyptian Gas Suppliers" to a friend

Natural gas pipeline running from Egypt into Israel explodes. Photo:

Last week’s news that Egypt has cancelled its agreement to sell gas to Israel sounds disturbing. But is it? Forgive my cynicism, but are we sure this isn’t just about business? Contracts get cancelled all the time, perhaps more in the USA than Europe, and often it is simply a business gambit to get more money. I have just been reading Daniel Yergin’s book, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, & Power. It was written in 1991 and won the Pulitzer Prize the following year, so it is hardly the last word on the subject. But it was such a fascinating and instructive read. It and taught me so much about how the Two World Wars were won thanks to superior oil supplies. It reiterated how the post-war discovery of cheap easily accessible oil in the Arab world got the powers scrambling to get a piece of the action and to hell with anything else.

One message comes through loud and clear. No matter whether it is Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Kuwait, or whichever emirate you care to mention, the record shows that the producer states constantly cancelled contracts, engaged in brinkmanship, nationalized their resources, played one company and country off against the other, all to get a better deal and more money. That is the way they do things. That is how most capitalists everywhere do it. It is why diplomats are described as “whores who lie for their country”. It is just that the Arabs do it with such charm and dissimulation one simply ends up admiring their Chutzpah. And it is the absence of such roguish charm that is often why Israelis do not make so many friends. In the Free World a contract, in theory, is a contract. There are supposed to be transparent legal systems, even though anyone who thinks they are beyond corruption is living in cloud-cuckoo-land. Why are China and Russia supporting Syrian oppression, or Mugabe or Omar Bashar? It is not out of love, I assure you.

It could be for political purposes that Egypt is canceling the deal with Israel. The Egyptians, almost to a man and woman, hate Israel, hate the peace treaty, and enjoy nothing more than burning Israeli flags, as the most recent demonstrations in Cairo illustrate. But just maybe it is also true that the Mubarak cronies who negotiated the deal were taking huge cuts and bribes and kickbacks and feathered their own nests. And dare I say it, the same is probably true for the Israeli negotiators who made the deal. Anyone who thinks Israeli businessmen are as pure as the driven snow deserves to be sentenced to life in an igloo. But whereas Israel has a relatively open and democratic society, 90% of the Arab world does not.

When they think of the West, they think of immorality, imperialism, the forces that sustain repressive dictators who themselves often came to power as modernizers and secularists and then proceeded to torture, rape, and pillage their own citizens. The Arab world has been corrupted and dehumanized for so long that they have not progressed since the days in 1958, when in Iraq they tortured and mutilated their king and princes to death and dragged their bodies through the streets–or wait, 2011 and Gaddafi. The West used to do that as a matter of routine 500 years ago. Over time they learnt to torture in private rather than as public entertainment spectacles.

Since the only people who stood up to repressive regimes tended not so much to be the religious establishments, but ordinary lay religious Muslims, it is not surprising that popular support now flows in the direction of those religious anti-establishment movements–be they the Brotherhood, the Salafists, Hamas, or Hezbollah–who offer the only rays of hope to the poor, unemployed, and disenfranchised of the Muslim world. Now is their time to see if they can do a better job. The beauty of any kind of democracy, however distorted or limited, is that if they fail, someone else may get a chance to do better.

But in the meantime they want to win elections, if there are any. And how do you do a George Galloway? The easiest way is by appealing to the very lowest and crudest levels of voter mentality, to the most jingoistic and prejudiced. That, of course, is what happens in the UK, let alone Cairo. And I guess that’s how Sarkozy hopes to get back in in France. And sadly, it happens in Israel, where the right wing is pushing to recognize more and more settlements and Netanyahu is giving in because it helps him get elected. But we also know, thank goodness, that as people have more to lose they are much more circumspect; even Oil Sheiks soon learn which side their pita is buttered on.

Wherever you look, dictatorship or democracy, it is clear that lobbies, money, and moneyed interests–be they of the Left or the Right–play the major role in winning elections. But it is also true that “it’s the economy, stupid” that decides how the votes go.

That is why, sad as I am at the anti-Israeli rhetoric and doubtless worse is to come, it is inevitable. If hatred has been fed to so many for so long, it cannot change overnight. If you play with people’s minds and souls, a quick session with a shrink will change as little as a quick dip in the Mikvah. So let us not overreact. Change that brings progress always takes time. Meanwhile, Please God, the Mediterranean will soon provide as much gas and oil as Israel could possibly want.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • Hinda Langer

    Thanks for responding. Maybe my message was not clear enough that I wanted to communicate:
    Your remarks about the possibility that democracy in Arab countries with the factions that you mention – Muslim Brotherhood,Hamas, etc. – could possibly improve the lot of the poor and dehumanized people is not facing the facts that these groups want sharia law imposed on all of their citizens.
    Therefore, democratically elected members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas will institute beheadings of women who are brought by their husbands to court for various infractions. Not to mention that democratically elected governments will murder as many Jews and Christians as they can. They will also murder the “collaborators” amongst themselves.

    My point is that the Western opinion (from our cultural standpoint) that improving underprivileged people’s lifestyle economically and giving them education and the advantages of a good life is not just naive when applied to the Arab/Muslim world – it is dangerous to life and limb of Jews in Eretz Yisroel and elsewhere. It may be fatally dangerous to Western civilization.

    Terrorism through violent attacks on targets like schools, hotels, trains – anything – plus the economic terrorism that was mentioned in my last comments – is destabilizing the Western world.

    While we are worrying about Netanyahu “giving in” to right wing political ideas – we may have a more virulent set of surrounding enemies in the Middle East than ever before.

    Because it’s not the economy, stupid. It’s belief systems of the Muslim world and their culture that control their actions on a national and personal level.
    I do not have the statistics at hand, but have read that the majority of terrorists and suicide bombers are from the middle and upper class economically. Many have been educated in Western universities. It’s about the fact that they adhere to Muslim doctrine which includes, for us, inhumane practices.

    How many Christians have been slaughtered in Egypt by the new “more enlightened” people that began the media dubbed Arab sping?
    For a Jewish leader to assert the right of Jews to live in Eretz Yisroel should be a norm.
    My point at the end of my last remarks about the fact that we can’t allow the UN and other nations dictate how, where and whether or not we should live in our own land does not infer that we will depend on Gd to protect us without taking action. The inference, which perhaps was not clear, was that the majority of the nations of the world, in taking the Arab side in this conflict, agree with the idea that has been part of the PLO/Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood ideology which creates maps WITHOUT THE STATE OF ISRAEL.

    When speaking about Eretz Yisroel’s necessity to have military readiness and adequate military power against an enemy, The Lubavitcher Rebbe quoted a teaching in the Talmdud. The paraphrase of that teaching is that if Jews know that an enemy is planning to come to a Jewish city and steal straw, we are obligated to take up arms, even on Shabbos, to stop this incursion. Why straw? Because even stealing straw can lead to much worse! The recommendation is to go against the enemy first before they come to your door with weapons.

    Jewish leaders knew before the Yom Kippur war about the high probability of attack. The Torah point of view, according to my understanding, is: don’t wait around davening in shul when you know that shortly armies from your neighbors will be attacking.

    Do I believe that Gd helped us then and will continue to help us? Yes. Gd will bless us in what we “do”.

  • NEIL


  • To Mr. Rosen,

    It’s not the economy that determines how things go for people.
    Please read Kevin Freeman’s book, Secret Weapon about economic terrorism. if you google this you will come to his lecture on the same topic. He states in the beginning that what the West fails to recognize, understand or deal with is that MONEY IS NOT THE ONLY MOTIVATOR for the Arabs and for MANY other people.

    He proves that the 2008 Wall Street crash was a symptom of the inner control that ‘terrorists’ are exercising. Did the crash happen on 9/11 – a date when another physical crash occurred?

    It is a psycholgical truism that what people project onto others is mostly what they are “guilty” of, their own mindset projected outward, etc. If Americans think that ‘a chicken in every pot’ is going to make the Arabs and Muslim Brotherhood happy, think again.

    Sharia law over the human race is much more like it.For Arabs that is the happy ending.

    Maybe Netanyahu has decided that his own people come first, their safety, their freedoms. What a concept, Jews deciding to choose what is best for themselves.

    How long would any American who had a war going on in a neighboring suburb not be defending and/or making sure that they would be on the offensive before the bombs/bullets/missiles hit them or their families in Anytown USA?

    What if the neighboring county to Mr. American had a group that was stockpiling weapons and attacking for a few years with no end in sight?

    The “settlements” are a media created pejorative term in the word war(propaganda) against Israel. These areas are areas that belong to Eretz Yisrael won in conflict and necessary for security. Give the word “settlements” back to the propagandists and state the fact that these areas contain Jews living in Eretz Yisroel in/on our land.

    Does any Palestinian school have a map that shows children that Eretz Yisroel exists? 1967 borders are just a wordgame for them – believe them when they say they do not recognize the State of Israel.

    When we can stand up and say, We live here because we have an ancient claim for thousands of years through Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov as delineated by Gd in the Torah, this will put fear in the Arab world. It will be a signal that Jews are no longer secular and afraid. It will be a signal to others that we were not “awarded” the Holy Land of Eretz Yisroel by the nations of the world as a ‘reservation’ the UN deeded to the Jews.

    It will signal that we will not allow the UN to make our “reservation” smaller and smaller until ‘poof’, no more Eretz Yisroel just as their maps show.

    We came back to our homeland as promised by Gd. If the existence of Eretz Yisroel is dependent on the gracious feelings of the nations of the world and negotitions with Palestinians, then we are presently about to be evicted since world opinion has changed since 1948.

    Now the world thinks it made a mistake and is about to correct the mistake of 1948 – as marked on 5th of Iyar. Our day of beginning of our State is a day of mourning and protest by the Arabs and Palestinians.

    Either Gd is running the world or the UN and its’ voting nations are running the world. Who are we going to kiss – the Torah/Gd or the UN?

    Free choice. Choose life.

    • jeremy rosen

      No of course it is not JUST the economy/money.I was borrowing the famous Clinton election slogan. And of course Divine Intervention plays a part in human Affairs except we humans never know exactly how or when. And it didn’t prevent the destruction of two Temples or the Holocaust. So having faith is one thing but as the Talmud says “You do not put yourself in a dangerous position and say “God will perform a miracle to help me” because maybe He will not.”J

      • mark

        God does not interfere with the acts one Man does to another. It is Good to study the Torah and have faith that God will protect you.

        In the past Jews were always the most vulnerable members of society so whenever anything went wrong it was always easy to come and murder a Jew because they had faith God would save them as they went to there death.

        Today you can study the Torah, have faith God will save you, and you also have a Nuclear arsenal that negates the threat of other nations.

        Seeing young male and female IDF soldiers walking around with Machine guns on my visit to Israel was a beautiful sight indeed.

        • jeremy rosen

          You say “God does not interfere with the acts one Man does to another” Interesting. How do you know?Do you have any evidence one way or the other?

  • Mad Angel on FB

    I guess when you read about the Egyptian decision to halt oil to Israel you missed the part where not only were they trying to get a discount, saying it was an agreement made when Mubarak was in power, but THEY HADN’T PAID THEIR BILL IN 4 MONTHS…

    Hmmmm….now just what they do with all of those BILLIONS the US gives them…it certainly hasn’t been going to their people….