By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Jerusalem
Officially, Israeli officials say they don’t want to appear as interfering in the next Egyptian elections, slated to take place in September.
However, privately, these officials make no secret of their "burning wish" to see the anti-Islamic forces, e.g. the liberals and remnants of the previous regime's supporters triumph over the Muslim Brotherhood, widely thought to be the best organized political group on the Egyptian arena.
According to reliable sources in Washington and Cairo, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu last month privately asked President Obama to press the Egyptian government to "restrict the chances of the fundamentalists reaching power or achieving real influence."
Netanyahu reportedly pressed the Obama administration to threaten economic and other sanctions against Egypt if the next Egyptian government displayed more anti-Israeli attitudes, including more support for the Palestinians.
Obama tactfully rejected the Israeli request, arguing that the Egyptians were in no mood to tolerate foreign interference in their internal affairs, adding that any such interference would be taken advantage of by the Islamists to make even more gains.
However, it is unlikely that this will spell the end of Israeli attempts and efforts to influence the post-Mubarak political scene in the largest and most important Arab country.
Israel is very likely to further press Congress, often described as an Israeli-occupied territory because of overwhelming Jewish-Zionist influence over the bicameral American legislature, to exert every possible pressure on the evolving Egyptian regime to observe "Israeli sensitivities."
Meanwhile, Israeli and Zionist circles continued to incite against anything Islamic in Egypt, with a clear monomaniac fixation on the Muslim Brothers.
On 31 May, the right-wing Israeli newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, published an article accusing the Muslim Brothers of using mosques as party branches. The article quoted former Mossad Chief Shabtai Shavit as saying that "every mosque is a party branch headquarters. Every cleric at the mosque is the party branch chairman. A contribution to the mosque is a contribution to the party."
Shabtai, who recently chaired a conference at Tel Aviv University organized by a right-wing think-tank, the Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, claimed that the Muslim Brothers were seeking to create a Sharia'-based state.
Like other Jewish supremacists, who are indoctrinated in Jewish exceptionalism and superiority, Shabtai ignored the fact that Jewish religious parties, who exude a clear-cut fascist discourse, are granted full freedom to participate and influence the political process in Israel without any Israeli intellectual or commentator batting an eyelash.
Indeed, the religious mentor of one major coalition partner in the current Israeli government was quoted recently as telling a Sabbath-eve synagogue gathering in West Jerusalem that non-Jews were very much like donkeys and other beasts of burden, which the Almighty created solely to serve the chosen people.
Statements resembling in letter and spirit the most venomous Nazi propaganda are routinely made by Israeli religious and political leaders. However, such statements don't raise many eyebrows in a society where brash racism and fascism have become the norm rather than the exception.
One Israeli cabinet minister remarked a few months ago that "we have already become a fascist state."
Another speaker at the conference was Haim Asa who recognized that the Arab-Muslim youths were undergoing a real transformation and going through an empowerment process.
"They stand in Tahrir square and in Deraa, they are injured and killed, and they continue to stand. This is an unstoppable process. I don't know what will come next, but it seems the old style of dictators will be no more.
Asa warned that what he called the "new phenomenon of mobs" which he described as "a civil atomic bomb" would pose a greater danger to Israel than an Iranian nuclear bomb."
There is no doubt that the Muslim brothers and other anti-Israeli forces in Egypt stand to gain in terms of popularity from the manifestly-brazen anti-Ikhwan Israeli propaganda. After all, one of the main reasons the repressive Mubarak regime was kept in power by the United States all these years was to placate Israel and protect its interests.
Anti-Israeli forces, especially the Muslim Brothers, were systematically persecuted by the former regime. Hundreds of Muslim Brothers, including the group's leading political activists, spent prolonged periods of time in the regime's slimy prisons and dungeons.
Besides, there is no doubt that any words of praise coming from Israel in favor of any political group in Egypt would seriously harm the image of that group to say the least given the immense dislike most Egyptians harbor for Israel.
One Egyptian journalist told this writer that any perceived backing or support by Israel of an Egyptian candidate would be sufficient to kill that candidate's chances for election or even for public respect.
"Any association with Israel would mean an instantaneous public relations disaster. If you want to destroy a political candidate or a political party, try to link it to Israel.
"Israel is still widely perceived as the enemy. Israel is likely to remain the Egyptian people's main enemy as long the conflict with the Palestinians remains unresolved."
I asked my interlocutor if he thought the next elections in September could produce a government that is significantly more anti-Israel than the current government.
His answer was clear. "Governments anywhere have their own calculations. But, we the peopl, have our own convictions as well. And if the next government in Egypt is to be faithful to democracy and answerable to the will of masses, it will have to take the people's convictions vis-à-vis Israel into account."
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|Liaquat Ali Khan|