October 7, 2023 and the Israeli Consciousness

It appears that Hamas has chosen the date of its ongoing invasion of Israel to coincide with that of another invasion that also occurred on a holy day and temporarily overwhelmed the Jewish state’s defenses: namely, the Yom Kippur War, which began 50 years ago on October 6. (While that war is still remembered in Egypt for the stunning military success of its early days, it ended with the Syrian army broken, Egyptian forces surrounded, and the IDF simultaneously advancing on Cairo and Damascus.) The Israeli novelist Ruby Namdar describes his reaction to the current war, and the memories it stirred up of 1973:

Waking up [on Saturday] and glancing at my cellphone to see what was new in the world, learning about the horrific attack that Hamas had launched against so many civilians in the south of Israel, sent me straight back to that day, to the boy I was then. Shock, bewilderment, a slight nausea, a sudden urge to fight back the tears that welled in my eyes. The frightened look on the face of my parents and my aunts and uncles was the first thing that came to my mind—but now I, we, all Israelis, were those frightened grown-ups who’d lost the sense of control over our reality.

This shock has yet to dissipate—I live in New York, but most of my family and friends are in Israel. With every new bit of information, I’ve been feeling sicker and sicker to my stomach at the number of those dead, injured, or kidnapped from their home and paraded through the streets of Gaza City to the cheers of an ecstatic crowd. I write these words only to give some shape and form to the chaos that’s been ravishing my mind since yesterday morning. I am not alone.

I am not the only one to associate the shock of today’s horrific events with that of the Yom Kippur War. The date of the attack does not feel random; it seemed carefully planned for the anniversary of that accursed war, which imprinted itself in the Israeli collective memory as a loss. It has shaken our very core, robbing us of our basic sense of stability and evoking the many horrible trials our people endured before the Zionist revolution and the establishment of the state of Israel—the pogroms, the Holocaust, and the murderous attacks on the young Jewish settlement in the Palestine of the early 20th century. . . .

I hope to God that the coming few weeks will restore the physical sense of security to Israel and the Middle East, but I also fear that this trauma will linger and haunt and perhaps even define us for many, many more years.

Read more at Atlantic

More about: Israeli history, Israeli society, Yom Kippur War

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy