Will Egypt’s Luck Run Out Someday?

Dec. 13 2021

With an ever-declining economy, political sclerosis, an Islamic State insurgency in the Sinai, and civil wars in neighboring Libya and Sudan as well as in nearby Yemen and Ethiopia, Egypt seems like a country with every reason to collapse. But it hasn’t. Samuel Tadros reflects on the country’s remarkable good fortune:

In his seminal essay, “The Sorrows of Egypt,” the late Fouad Ajami noted, in his masterful prose, the numerous sorrows of modern Egypt, from the steady decline of its public life and its dependence on foreign handouts to the deep sense of disappointment that engulfs the country as it rotates between false glory and self-pity; he concluded his treatise by remarking that “Egyptians who know their country so well have a way of reciting its troubles, then insisting that the old resilient country shall prevail.” The Arab sage, who professed “approaching the country with nothing but awe for its civility amid great troubles,” concurred with their assessment. “The danger,” he wrote, is not of sudden, cataclysmic upheaval, but of the steady descent into deeper levels of pauperization.”

More than 25 years after Ajami’s essay, his words seem prophetic. While Egypt has continued its descent, it has managed to avoid the fate of many of the region’s other countries. No great calamity has befallen the country as it has in Syria and Libya. Egypt’s avoidance of such a fate remains a puzzle. By all measures, the country should have faced a reckoning. The list of Egypt’s troubles is long and would have broken many a country by now.

After all, if Egypt’s ship has failed to sink, it is not for lack of trying. . . . And yet, somehow, against overwhelming odds, the ship has continued to float.

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Read more at Caravan

More about: Egypt, Fouad Ajami, Middle East

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform