Never Underestimate the Power of the Ideologue

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Sunday morning, Egyptian time, Mohammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was declared the winner in the Egyptian Presidential elections. This is a watershed event.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a radical Islamist group that was founded in 1928 by Hassan al Banna, a devotee of Adolf Hitler. For eighty four years it has been a goal of the Muslim Brotherhood to turn Egypt into an Islamist state, and to be able to spread the flag of Islam throughout the world.

Many people have called this, “A milestone for Egyptian democracy”. Nothing can be further from the truth. This is as much “a milestone for democracy in Egypt “, as the voting in of Hamas is” a milestone for democracy in Gaza”, or the voting in of Hitler was “a milestone for democracy in Nazi Germany.”

Democracy is more than one vote, one time. It is the ability to have a second, a third and a fourth vote. It means that the institutions of a liberal democracy are in place: a free press, freedom of worship for minorities, freedom of assemblage, freedom for women and for gays. Or as the great Soviet dissident, Natan Sharansky had written, “It is the freedom to be able to stand in the town square and criticize the government without fear of one’s very life.”

For the last sixteen months, since the fall of the Mubarak regime, many of my colleagues from other pro-Israel organizations have been on Capitol Hill, lobbying that we have to continue our aid to the Egyptian military, arguing that the Supreme Council Armed Forces, (SCAF) is the most Western of institutions in Egypt.

As tempting as it might sound, it would be a serious misreading of the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood   to believe that because SCAF had dissolved the Islamist dominated parliament on June 17th, and vowed to write their own Constitution, that the building up of the military would act as a counterbalance against the Muslim Brotherhood, and safeguard democracy in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood is as strong as a lion and as sly as a fox. They hung back during the early days of the revolution in Tahrir Square, making it appear that the age of the totalitarian regime of Mubarak was finally falling to the age of the free and enlightened Face-Book and Twitter Generation. The well-intentioned young, educated minority were working to overthrow the Pharonic like suffocation of Mubarak, but most never would have imagined that they were just bartering one sort of state-imposed suffocation for another, mosque-imposed suffocation.

The Muslim Brotherhood was waiting in the wings, knowing full well that the vast majority of Egyptians were neither well educated nor sophisticated, and relied upon the local mosque for most of their information.

According to a February 2011 Pew Poll, a full 95 per cent of Egyptians felt it was “a good thing” for “Islam to play an active role” in politics.  77 per cent felt that “thieves should be flogged or have their hands cut off”; 82 per cent felt that adulterers should be stoned to death; 84 per cent felt that apostates should face the death penalty.

We, at EMET, also have been warning, since the revolution first began eighteen month ago, in Tahrir Square, that is time, once and for all, to cease our American taxpayer’s dollars from flowing into Egypt, at least until we knew the results of the elections, what sort of government would be formed, and whether or not this government would adhere to existing treaties with Israel.

Ever since 1979, we have taken the Egyptian military and we have built it from a C-, Soviet equipped military to an A+, American equipped one.

It is our fear that these sophisticated weapons might be aimed at Israeli soldiers or civilians.

Imagine, if you will, an all too likely scenario:  A barrage of Kassam missiles comes raining down into southern Israel and the Eshkol region from Gaza. Men women and children are developing all sorts of psychological symptoms and are living in fear. They each have approximately 15 seconds to run to shelter.

Israel is then forced to do, what any other nation would do under those same circumstances.  Under article 41 of the United Nations Charter,  any nation has an obligation to defend its civilian population. The Israelis make the decision to re-enter Gaza to protect and defend the lives of its citizens whose lives have become a living hell.

Would the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt then feel it is necessary to defend their brothers in Gaza? Would our American made weapons be used against Israeli soldiers and civilians?

There are many who argue that our 1.3 billion dollars in military assistance buys us a seat at the table. ask you:  What sort of leverage has this “seat” at this imaginary “table” bought us over the past 33 years?

Has is made it more comfortable for American style, Western NGO’s in Egypt? Has it prevented the Egyptian people from attacking the Israeli embassy? Has it prevented them from countless attacks on the gas pipeline to Israel? Has it prevented the cross border raids into Israel, one resulting in the murder of eight Israelis, last summer, and one in another Israeli, just last week? Has it resulted in a modification of the vitriol used against Israel and the United States? Has it resulted in guarantees that the Egyptians will adhere not only to the letter, but to the spirit of the Camp david Accords?

During the Egyptian election season, we have heard everything from spokesmen for the Muslim Brotherhood from,” We will uphold the Camp David Treaty with Israel”, to “We will take it to a referendum, to “We cannot be held hostage by a hollow, outdated treaty.”

My suspicion is that the Muslim Brotherhood might, at least initially pay lip service to the Camp David Treaty in order to secure the continuous flow of money from the United States into their bankrupt economy, but that that these will be simply hollow promises.

I fear that there will always be an abundance of naive American “experts” inside the beltway who will be willing to believe them.  I fear that it will not be too long before they will borrow a page from Yassir Arafat’s playbook, whitewash a few members of the Muslim Brotherhood who have paid lip service to the Camp David Treaty, bring them to Washington, where their handlers will say: “This is the pragmatic branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the part that we can deal with.” Probably not before very long, we might find that they will be invited into the White House.

As the old saying goes, “There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.”

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The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance. EMET (which means truth in Hebrew) prides itself on challenging the falsehoods and misrepresentations that abound in U.S. Middle East policy.

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