Egypt's Helping Hand For Terror

Looking honestly at Egypt's role in the ten-year Oslo terror war would mean confronting the fact that it isn't really an "Israeli-Palestinian" conflict at all, but a continuation of what was once known as the Arab-Israeli conflict through fouler means than conventional military attack.

P. David Hornik

OpEds לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7
What's this unpleasantness about tunnels from Egypt? The media keep referring obliquely and gingerly to the fact that terrorists are smuggling weapons and explosives ? along with drugs, contraband, and even prostitutes ? from Sinai to the Gaza Strip via tunnels. They speak as if these tunnels occurred spontaneously, like natural phenomena, or just barely raise the possibility that Egypt ? that noble moderate of Arab nations, signer of peace treaties ? could have something to do with it.

But it is, of course, absurd to doubt Egypt's complicity at all. Imagine that there were organizations of Israeli terrorists smuggling weapons, explosives and other terrorist materiel into Jordan through tunnels in the Negev. Imagine that this was contributing to an epidemic of horrific mass-murder bombings in Jordan. And imagine that the Israeli prime minister, when asked about the matter, said that Israel "will not allow such activities, and if we found smuggled weapons, we would confiscate them."

Ridiculous, right? That Israeli prime minister would come under a storm of outrage, and rightly so. There would be no way the Israeli government could be anything but responsible, even if just by "benign neglect", looking the other way. And you can be certain the U.S., the UN, the EU and the world community in general would do everything they could, from pressure to sanctions to outright military action, to stop Israel from enabling the atrocities.

Yet, the above "imaginary" statement is not so imaginary: it was spoken by President Mubarak (quoted by Jonathan Schanzer in The Weekly Standard, August 14, 2003). And the smuggling from Sinai to Gaza via tunnels has in fact been going on for ten years, since the beginning of the "Oslo process" in 1993, playing a major role in the murder of 1,400 Israelis in that period. Where's the pressure on Egypt, where are the sanctions? It's a miracle if anyone even talks about it.

To look squarely at this phenomenon would, of course, puncture too many myths. The idea that Israel has "made peace with its neighbors," that the neighbors who haven't signed peace treaties have pretty much buried the hatchet and are waiting for the right opportunity to do so, that the conflict has now been whittled down to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and that resolving that last local flare-up will put the whole Arab-Israeli conflict to an end, is precious to U.S. administrations, to pundits and scholars, to most of Diaspora Jewry and to some of Israeli Jewry. Absolutely crucial to that vision is the notion of a moderate, constructive Egypt. Israel's peace treaty with Jordan is less consequential, since it did little but ratify almost three decades of de facto peace with the Hashemite regime and Jordan is a much weaker Arab country than Egypt.

But if the "peace" with Egypt were to emerge as a sham ? and not only because of Egypt's anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic media, its huge military buildup, but because of its direct complicity in a savage ten-year terror war waged mainly against Israeli civilians ? then the whole notion of an "Oslo process" or a "road map" would be in danger of teetering and collapsing. In "making peace" with Egypt, Israel did all the things many people still believe it needs to do to achieve lasting peace with the Palestinians. Land? It ceded every last grain of Sinai sand. Settlements? It razed every last Sinai settlement to the ground, and sent in the IDF to forcefully clear out the settlers who resisted. No wonder nobody's going to press Mubarak too hard. It would threaten our complacency, our comfort, our delusions.

Looking honestly at Egypt's role in the ten-year Oslo terror war would mean confronting the fact that it isn't really an "Israeli-Palestinian" conflict at all, but a continuation of what was once known as the Arab-Israeli conflict through fouler means than conventional military attack. It would mean accurately seeing Egypt's arms smuggling to terrorists, Saudi Arabia's funding of terror and support to the families of suicide bombers, Syria's harboring of terror organizations and cooperation with their acts, Lebanon's harboring of Hizbullah, the erstwhile Iraqi regime's support for terror, and Iran's many-pronged involvement in the onslaught as adding up to an evolvement of the "Arab-Israeli conflict" in the form of a large-scale, Arab-Muslim, genocidal-terrorist campaign against Israel ? an unpleasant notion indeed. It may be the notion that's entirely justified by the facts, but it's easier to speak mealy-mouthed platitudes about the "Israeli-Palestinian conflict" and "road maps" and the like.

Indeed, looking at the situation clearly and honestly would mean recognizing the fact that Israel is a democracy under violent assault by an array of fascistic dictatorships, and that all of Israel's reasonableness, generosity, and deal-making only earns it further and further atrocities, because its adversaries are about as interested in making peace with it as Milosevic was with the Albanian Kosovars, al-Qaeda is with the United States, or Hitler was Britain and France. It would mean recognizing the fact that even an Israeli prime minister with a hawkish background apparently feels so constrained by the "friendly" Bush administration that he would rather play along with the script of releasing terrorists from prison and ceding towns to terrorist control than allow Israel's large, vaunted army to act decisively to protect Israeli men, women, children, and babies from maiming and death. It would mean recognizing the fact that the only decent reaction of the "civilized", "democratic", "human-rights"-respecting world would be to call a spade a spade and announce that Israel will be supported fully and unconditionally in militarily crushing the assault, while threatening its perpetrators ? all of them ? with sanctions and punishment.

Well, that sounds like quite a can of worms, doesn't it. Tunnels from Egypt to Gaza? The Mubarak regime's involvement in terror? Don't tell us about it. It's easier to let more Israelis be slaughtered than face up to the truth.

[This article originally appeared in the on-line FrontPage Magazine on August 27, 2003.]