Soros: it’s all Israel’s fault

The situation in Egypt has Israel worried, for good reason. The border has been peaceful since the 1970’s, thanks to the ‘cold peace’. It’s not ideal — believe it or not, Israel honestly yearns for true friendly relations with its Arab neighbors — but it’s better than war. And now nobody knows what kind of regime will come after Mubarak.

If a true liberal democracy were to arise, the peace would most likely continue to be ‘cold’. There’s no love for Israel among even the most liberal Egyptians, but a regime interested in economic development and freedom would not opt for war. On the other hand, a radical Islamist regime might — or might not — abrogate the Camp David treaty. Either way, Israel would have to make plans and allocate resources to deal with the possibility of hostility or even an outright attack on its southern border.

Keep in mind that the Muslim Brotherhood is the parent of Hamas. The worst-case scenario is that of Egypt becoming one big Gaza strip, except with a massive army and modern weapons.

Today Israel has concentrated its forces to respond to the very serious threat from Hizballah in the north, and the less-serious threat from Hamas in Gaza. But that will have to change. It will be expensive and difficult.

Israel has little or no influence on what will happen in Egypt (unlike the US, which has the lever of military aid). And it isn’t clear at all what the US should do, or even what it is doing. I’ve heard anti-Mubarak protesters excoriating the US for supporting Mubarak, while pro-Mubark people curse us for abandoning him.

Unsurprisingly, anti-Israel forces are trying to blame Israel for everything, including Mubarak’s brutality. Some suggest that whatever the US is doing wrong — there are different versions of this — it is doing it because the ‘Israel lobby’ is causing it to do so.

Let’s look at what one of  Israel’s most vicious and dangerous enemies in the West, the billionaire currency speculator George Soros, says:

President Obama personally and the United States as a country have much to gain by moving out in front and siding with the public demand for dignity and democracy. This would help rebuild America’s leadership and remove a lingering structural weakness in our alliances that comes from being associated with unpopular and repressive regimes. Most important, doing so would open the way to peaceful progress in the region. The Muslim Brotherhood’s cooperation with Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate who is seeking to run for president, is a hopeful sign that it intends to play a constructive role in a democratic political system. As regards contagion, it is more likely to endanger the enemies of the United States – Syria and Iran – than our allies, provided that they are willing to move out ahead of the avalanche.

The main stumbling block is Israel. In reality, Israel has as much to gain from the spread of democracy in the Middle East as the United States has. But Israel is unlikely to recognize its own best interests because the change is too sudden and carries too many risks. And some U.S. supporters of Israel are more rigid and ideological than Israelis themselves. Fortunately, Obama is not beholden to the religious right, which has carried on a veritable vendetta against him. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is no longer monolithic or the sole representative of the Jewish community. — Washington Post

Almost every proposition in the above is false. El Baradei, who received his Nobel in 2005 for his supposed efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes, consistently said that there was no evidence that Iran was working on nuclear weapons (while technically true — there was no evidence of an actual weapon under development — clearly the Iranian program has always been intended to produce weapons).

El Baradei has no real support in Egyptian politics, but is a useful figurehead for Western consumption, to sanitize the radical Brotherhood. To support El Baradei because he is smooth, speaks good English and (like Yasser Arafat!) was given a Nobel Prize would be to fall directly into the Brotherhood’s trap.

Soros adds that an Egyptian regime with participation (which would shortly become domination) by the Brotherhood would ‘endanger…Syria and Iran’. Really? How did radical Islamist participation work out in Lebanon? Quite the opposite!

Of course, it doesn’t take him long to blame Israel. In fact, Israel’s unhappiness with the situation is not because it doesn’t “recognize its own best interests” but because it recognizes too well what is likely to happen if the pro-democratic forces are co-opted in favor of the radical Islamists, as happened in Iran in 1979 and Lebanon just recently. Indeed the history of revolutions in general, starting with the emblematic French and Russian ones, doesn’t hold out much hope for a good outcome (the American ‘revolution’ was more of a secession than a revolution).

But, says Soros, all is not lost because the Religious Right and the nefarious Israel Lobby are no longer controlling American policy. No, now we have the phony ‘pro-Israel’ J Street (a creature of Soros) speaking truth to power! In fact, J Street represents only an extreme left wing minority of American Jews, and it is rapidly losing the support of formerly naive liberals who were initially fooled into believing that it was indeed ‘pro-Israel’.

It seems to me that there are four possible outcomes in Egypt. Here they are, with the best first:

  • A true democratic regime arises (probability: 0.001%).
  • The existing regime continues, although without Mubarak (possible).
  • A caretaker regime including the Muslim Brotherhood, takes over. Within a year or two, the Brotherhood cements its control (probable).
  • An Islamist regime arises immediately (less probable).

The best policy for the US will be to walk the tightrope of supporting true pro-democracy forces while making clear that any regime that includes the Muslim Brotherhood is unacceptable. Although we may not be able to prevent this outcome, we shouldn’t act to hasten it.

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4 Responses to “Soros: it’s all Israel’s fault”

  1. Robman says:


    I agree with your policy recommendations, but not your interpretation of Soros, at least not entirely.

    I would agree that his lauding of El Baradei and his playing down the risks of the MB is disingenuous delusional nonsense.

    However, I don’t think there is a “.001%” chance of a non-Islamist, secular democracy. I’d say it might be as high as 10%!

    Still not very good odds, for sure. But remember, in the age of the Internet, people are exposed to a lot more than they would have been in generations past (at least the ones who can afford a computer and Internet account). At least this segment has got to know that their needs are not going to be met by returning to the Middle Ages.

    Iran was on the verge of a revolution for what many expected would be a secular democracy less than two years ago. So, why not Egypt?

    Again, I’m not betting my house on this. But I wouldn’t COMPLETELY rule it out.

    Also, secular democracy or no, I see it as in Israel’s long-term interests for fickle allies like Mubarak to be overthrown. Yes, there was a ‘cold’ peace. There’s also quasi-support for Hamas in Gaza, no support in the UN at all, war games for which Israel is the target (which is why I don’t think Israel really has to revamp their contingency planning all that much…you think they ever really trusted Egypt?). Then there’s all that vicious anti-Israel, anti-Semitic propaganda from their state-run media..they NEED this in order to distract the people from the inept rule of Mubarak.

    Worst of all, you’ve got the cozy relationship between the U.S. and Mubarak, which, like similar cozy relationships between the U.S. and other so-called “moderate” regimes, gives a great excuse for the Arabist twits at State to say, “Oh, we must not favor Israel, for then we will alienate our ‘moderate’ friends among the Arabs!”.

    When there aren’t any “moderates” left, that means we stand by Israel.

    I’ve already seen this dynamic in action. When Senator Rand Paul suggested cutting aid to Israel as a deficit-reduction measure, a number of senators objected strongly, including my very own bleeding-heart-liberal Sherrod Brown (not known as a strong supporter of Israel). Even HE said that at a time like this, we certainly had to stand by our one stable democratic ally in the region.

    Not that I count on Obama to behave accordingly. He’ll be a jerk towards Israel no matter what. That’s why I’m scared crapless about the next two years.

    Finally, again, look what happened in Iran. They had a revolution that installed an Islamist regime. That regime is a failure, so the people revolted again in the direction we’d all want them too.

    Islamist regimes now – that still don’t meet the needs of the people, and they won’t – will only lead to more genuinely democratic regimes later.

    So ultimately, for reasons that may not be quite the same as his, I too, like George Soros support the spread of democracy in the Middle East.

  2. Shalom Freedman says:

    The U.S. push for Democracy in Egypt is another step toward abandoning Israel. The Egyptian public have been educated to hate demon Israel. This is a theme which runs throughout the Arab and Islamic world. A democratic Egyptian regime will be as anti- Israel as the Egyptian media but not government have been for the past thirty years. Will the U.S. profit from a ‘democratic Egypt?’ Of course not. For the U.S. influence in the Middle East is in decline. They may still have the ships but they no longer have the money. All the Middle East is moving in the Islamist direction. This does not seem to bother the current President as long as they do not call themselves ‘Al-Qaeda’.

  3. NormanF says:

    Israel must hope for the best and prepare for the worst with Egypt.

    It must make it clear it will not tolerate a regime in which the MB is part of the Egyptian government and a future Egyptian regime that unilaterally abrogates the peace treaty with Israel can expect to face the full consequences stemming from such a move.

  4. N. Friedman says:

    Shalom Freedman writes: “The U.S. push for Democracy in Egypt is another step toward abandoning Israel.”

    I think this is a serious exaggeration to the point of likely being wrong. If democracy is the result of the revolt – or revolution – in Egypt, it is likely, given the hostility of average Egyptians to Israel, to complicate seriously Israel’s ability to defend herself. It might even lead to war – although, that all depends.

    At the same time, though, the political change in the region will also be a serious step towards undermining the US’s role in the region, making it less likely that the US can dominate things. Hence, the US will likely, over the long term, have more reason to befriend Israel than is now the case.

    Of course, important elements in the Obama administration may not see the matter that way but, as the role of the US continues to be diminished in the Middle East – a process which could take many, many years to play out -, it is likely that the US government will need good relations wherever it can find them.

    Some might postulate that, absent alliance with Israel, Arabs would love the US (or, at least, not hate us). That strikes me as a complete misread of what most Arabs think. The heritage of the Arab regions, most especially among Muslims, includes the notion that Arabs are the best of all peoples and that the Almighty tasks them to play the lead role in the world – something which Israel helps prevent but, frankly, in which the US plays a much bigger role. The Brotherhood, of course, presents this viewpoint most starkly but, as with most societies, that group’s opinion is not wholly different from those of Arab nationalists, socialists, liberals or average people. [Note: in some ways, the West holds similar ideas, thinking its ways are the best and that the West should play the dominant role in the world.]

    Hence, the direction which the ouster of the current form of government in the Middle East is unlikely to be friendly towards the US, with or without Israel. And, the US, if its relationship with Egypt abates and then, over time, there is a more general abatement in the region, will tend to make friends of those who want our friendship.