Egypt Still Hasn’t Escaped Nasser’s Toxic Legacy

Sept. 30 2020

To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, Daniel Pipes reflects on his reign:

A thirty-four-year-old colonel when he took over through a coup d’état in 1952, Nasser was the first indigenous Egyptian to rule the country since the pharaohs. His ambitions were as immense as his ideas were delusional. He overthrew a king and installed an oppressive military rule that still endures 68 years later. He dispossessed grand landlords and small merchants alike, then chased out Levantine entrepreneurs—mainly Italians, Greeks, and Lebanese—who fueled the economy. He persecuted the small but thriving Jewish community of 75,000 to the point that it now consists of ten (at last count) elderly women.

He aligned with the Soviet Union, industrialized Egypt along Soviet lines, and ruled with post-Stalin-like brutality. Bewitched by the mirage of bringing all Arabic-speaking countries under his control, Nasser unified with some of them and made war with others. More than anyone else, he installed anti-Zionism as the mainstay of Middle Eastern political life and transformed the Palestinian refugee issue into Palestinian irredentism. Along the way, he initiated the Six-Day War of 1967 and dispatched his armed forces to the most lopsided military defeat in recorded history.

Egypt has never escaped Nasser’s legacy. The regime persists in a casual brutality toward dissidents and a dogged hostility to Israel that outlasts the peace treaty signed 41 years ago. It lags economically, with retired military officers more important than ever and the country unable to feed itself or produce goods that the world wants. . . . Thus did Egypt slide from its old status as the foremost of twenty Arabic-speaking countries to an afterthought.

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Read more at Daniel Pipes

More about: Anti-Zionism, Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser

Europe-Israel Relations Have Been Transformed

On Monday, Israel and the EU held their first “association council” meeting since 2012, resuming what was once an annual event, equivalent to the meetings Brussels conducts with many other countries. Although the summit didn’t produce any major agreements or diplomatic breakthroughs, writes Shany Mor, it is a sign of a dramatic change that has occurred over the past decade. The very fact that the discussion focused on energy, counterterrorism, military technology, and the situation in Ukraine—rather than on the Israel-Palestinian conflict—is evidence of this change:

Israel is no longer the isolated and boycotted outpost in the Middle East that it was for most of its history. It has peace treaties with six Arab states now, four of which were signed since the last association council meeting. There are direct flights from Tel Aviv to major cities in the region and a burgeoning trade between Israel and Gulf monarchies, including those without official relations.

It is a player in the regional alliance systems of both the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean, just as it has also become a net energy exporter due to the discovery of large gas deposits of its shoreline. None of this was the case at the last council meeting in 2012. [Moreover], Israel has cultivated deep ties with a number of new member states in the EU from Central and Eastern Europe, whose presence in Brussels bridges cultural ideological gaps that were once much wider.

Beyond the diplomatic shifts, however, is an even larger change that has happened in European-Israeli relations. The tiny Israel defined by its conflict with the Arabs that Europeans once knew is no more. When the first Cooperation Agreement [between Israel and the EU’s precursor] was signed in 1975, Israel, with its three million people, was smaller than all the European member states save Luxembourg. Sometime in the next two years, the Israeli population will cross the 10 million mark, making it significantly larger than Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria (among others), and roughly equal in population to Greece, Portugal, and Sweden.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israeli gas