By Stan Goodenough | www.stangoodenough.com | Originally published Feb 2011
My soul has dwelt too long with one who hates peace. I am for peace; But when I speak, they are for war. (Psalm 120:6-7)
How do we pray concerning the Israel-Egypt peace treaty? Do we pray for it to be protected, upheld and perpetuated? For the majority who wish to see Israel live in peace with her neighbors, this question would seem a no brainer.
And yet, I cannot pray so readily for this.
Let me paint a picture:
A friend has contracted cancer that, unless caught in its early stages, will grow progressively more threatening to his life. On learning of the disease, you urge him to have the tumor removed, but he prefers to continue living as normal a life as possible, taking basic medication to numb him to the pain, and even help him forget he was ill.
The more time passes, the more perilous his condition becomes. He would carry on regardless, but a sudden turn of events forces him to reassess. While the attack on his body is set to intensify, he’s not ready to deal with it.
You have the chance to remind him that, had he agreed to it at the start, he would have undergone a painful but relatively straightforward procedure while his body was strong enough to survive. The passage of time and progression of the cancer has weakened him. Although it is still possible to save his life, he must have the surgery now.
Thing is, it’s no longer a small operation. What he requires at this point will be agonizing; the risks far higher. As his friend, you must choose whether to pressure him to go under the knife by telling him some unpleasant home truths, or allow him to continue in self-delusion as he drifts towards his date with doom.
“Everybody’s” pleading with him to, “for heaven’s sake, leave well enough alone! Anything is better than the alternative.”
But do we really believe this?
Let’s take a closer look at what this Israel-Egypt peace treaty really is: how it was drawn up, what it cost Israel to sign, how it has played out, what its effects have been, and where its perpetuation will lead.
The Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, and the Egyptian military dictator, Anwar Sadat, signed the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, known as the Camp David Agreement, in 1978.
In other words, it was signed between an elected representative of the Israeli people on the one side, and a military ruler representing no-one on the other.
The details – or more accurately – the parties to the agreement – were hammered together by the American president, Jimmy Carter.
As close advisor to Begin, the late Shmuel Katz, outlined in his book “The Hollow Peace,” (Dvir Publishing; Israel; 1981), Carter held a gun to Israel’s head and, wielding blackmail and deception, mercilessly pressured Begin into agreeing to the treaty terms – the tangible fruits of which were all in Egypt’s – and America’s – favor.
Sadat, who had his forces launch the aggressive wars of 1967 and 1973 with the intent of obliterating the Jewish state, was rewarded for his belligerence by being given the Sinai Peninsula (which was not Egyptian sovereign territory before), and by being universally applauded as a courageous peacemaker.
By relinquishing the Sinai, Israel lost access to sources of oil that supplied upwards of 60 percent of its oil needs. It lost the ultra-modern military airfields it had built in the Sinai, and the billions of dollars it had to spend building substitute airfields in the Negev.
Israel lost the strategic depth that protected it against another Egyptian onslaught. It lost the only way it had of ensuring Israeli ships retain free access to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea. It lost the Jewish communities it had established in the Sinai – the process of uprooting them leaving deep scars in the Israeli national conscious and sowing seeds for civil disagreement and strife among Israel’s Jews.
And in the agreement Israel forfeited the possibility of annexing Judea, Samaria and Gaza, instead binding itself to negotiate with the Palestinian Arabs to give them self-rule in those areas to which they – the Arabs – had no prior historical claim.
The United States rewarded Egypt richly; over the ensuing years giving the country billions of dollars worth of modern and sophisticated weaponry, and training Egyptian soldiers and security forces. All the while Egypt’s army – twice as large as Israel’s – has been playing yearly war games in which it practices attacking and destroying the Jewish state.
Egypt, first under Sadat and then under Hosni Mubarak, lived up to nothing in return but a pledge not to launch attacks on Israel from Egyptian soil. That did not stop it from pursuing that other, political, war – delegitimizing the Jewish state and fomenting hatred of Israel at home and abroad.
While Israeli leaders frequently visited Egypt for consultations with Mubarak and his officials, the Egyptian ruler absolutely refused to reciprocate. His solo trip to Jerusalem was for the funeral of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Israeli tourists flocked with their money to Egypt, but Egyptians basically never came to tour Israel. The Mubarak-controlled media in Egypt regularly vilified the Jewish state and its Jewish citizens, while Israel’s free media almost always related to their southern neighbor in terms of being a partner in peace.
Meanwhile, included in the Carter-sanctioned agreement, with the American president’s full awareness and in fact collusion, was Egypt’s right to declare war on Israel if Israel should get into another conflict with any other Arab state.
As The Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick told an audience in the Israeli capital last week, what has existed between Israel and Egypt for the last 32 years has been not a state of peace but a readily reversible ceasefire.
Apart from badly compromising Israel’s security at the start, when it was formulated and signed, the agreement led Israel to further weaken itself as the years, then the decades, went by.
Glick pointed out that Israel, lulled into sleepiness by the exciting ‘peace agreement,’ long ago stopped training its forces for desert warfare. It also stopped collecting intelligence on the Egyptian military. All the while, Cairo was building up its war machine – with a billion dollars in aid from the United States every year.
“Egypt received massive military assistance from the United States. Those forces – which are trained by the US military – have been training for war against Israel for the last 32 years… The Egyptian army is twice the size of the IDF. Nearly a million Egyptian boys come of call-up age every year.”
Egypt is not “just” anti-Israel; it is one of the most antisemitic countries in the world, warned the Post reporter.
It must be noted, Glick added, that the new military junta ruling Egypt, despite being under intense pressure from the United States to commit itself to honoring the Israel-Egypt treat, was willing to go no further than make a general commitment to all its international treaties.
This should not be overlooked.
So what do we have? Israel signed a treaty with an Egyptian strongman which, yes, helped keep the southern border quiet for 32 years, and enabled millions of Israeli tourists to visit the Sinai and enjoy its beautiful coastline. But it also led to Israel weakening itself strategically, relaxing its guard and effectively rendering itself less able to deal with a future Egyptian assault.
Meanwhile the Egyptian side massively modernized its military while uninterruptedly fuelling hatred of the Jews and their state. Egypt used its “credentials” (influential Arab state with Western-backing) to keep itself in the center of the “peace process.” From Cairo, Hosni Mubarak edged ahead with his anti-Israel agenda, encouraging American administrations and Israeli leftists to work against Israel’s security interests.
Many, mostly liberal, experts are decrying the “scaremongers” who believe that the Muslim Brotherhood will soon ascend to power in Egypt. The revolution there has been widely described as the birthing of democracy in the Arab world and therefore promising a better future for Israel-Egypt relations. But democracy and Islam are oil and water – they cannot be mixed, and Israel’s presence in the Arab’s Muslim midst can never be tolerated. It must be expunged.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while calling Israel-Egyptian peace a “cornerstone of Mideast stability” and “hoping for the best” has said that Israel must “prepare for the worst” in its relations with its southern neighbor. Leftist Israelis have torn strips off him for doing so, calling instead for an appeasing approach that would not risk heightening tensions between the two countries during this transition period.
What is best for Israel? What should we pray for? The survival of a peace treaty that strengthens Egypt – whose political future is at best uncertain – and keeps Israel weak – making its future survival uncertain?
Or do we pray for Israel to prepare for the possibility that Egypt will tear up the treaty and throw it away – even if Israel’s very act of preparation is used as a justification by Egypt to abrogate Camp David?
Should we pray for God to help Israel prepare for what the Bible foretells and Middle East geo-political reality confirms is on the way – a war the Jewish people don’t want, but which will be unleashed against her? And if, as the IDF is bolstered in the south and Israel moves to make up its deficit in intelligence on Egypt, the Egyptian side reacts by scrapping the treaty, so be it?
Latin scholar Vegetius said: Si vis pacem, para bellum (If you want peace, prepare for war).
With the Israel-Egypt treaty, Israel has prepared for peace, but Egypt has has used it to gear up for war.
Stan Goodenough is a journalist and commentator, and 23-year resident of the State of Israel.
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