Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says that though some revolutions have brought about positive results, others have not, such as those in Russia 100 years ago, Iran and Lebanon. In Egypt, he said, Israel's main concern is that Egypt not resume the state of war with Israel.
The Prime Minister addressed the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Wednesday night in Jerusalem. Excerpts:
“…I've spoken in recent weeks about the shifting sands between India and Gibraltar, between Pakistan and Morocco. I've been through one or two sandstorms in my life, and I found being in a sandstorm, the two most important things that you need is not to lose sight of where you are - and not to lose sight of where you are going. You have to maintain a clear sense of place and a clear sense of direction.
“Two weeks ago, in a speech I gave in the Knesset, I said that everyone is watching this sandstorm [in Egypt]. I said that leaders and policymakers in Washington, London, Paris and Berlin were voicing strong support for the protesters in Cairo. But I also pointed out that, at the same time, these same protesters were supported in Tehran.
Two Opposing Visions of Egypt's Future
“Now, there is one thing I can assure you: the leaders in the West and the leaders in Tehran do not want the same future for Egypt. American and European leaders want an Egypt that is free, democratic, peaceful and prosperous... They want an Egypt that is at peace with its neighbors and that promotes stability throughout the region.
“On the other hand, the leaders in Tehran: they want to see an Egypt that is ruled by that same iron despotism that has crushed human rights in Iran for the last three decades... They want an Egypt that will break the peace with Israel - that will join Iran in supporting terrorism and promoting bloodshed throughout the region and in many parts of the world.
“So there is a question here. How can these two visions so diametrically opposed to one another both find hope in the protests in the streets and squares of Cairo? The answer to that is very simple: no one knows what the future in Egypt will bring. People in Washington don't know. People in Tehran don't know. Now this may be hard for some of you to believe – but even columnists for the New York Times don't know.
“Changing the status quo can definitely lead to a better outcome. This happened two decades ago in Berlin, in Prague and in Bucharest. In 1989, the great change in Eastern Europe we can now say for certain was definitely for the better.
“But change can also lead to worse outcomes - worse for freedom, worse for human rights, worse for peace. In 1917 there was great change and great hope when three months of the Kerensky government were followed by 70 years of Soviet darkness. In 1979, there was a genuine hope for democracy and progress in Iran, but a few months of the Bachtiar government gave way to 30 years of militant Islamic darkness. This is also happening in Lebanon today.
"You remember that a few years ago, five years ago, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese poured into the squares of Beirut? … The calls for freedom that they chanted there, spearheaded by the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, were no less authentic than the calls for freedom that are now heard in Cairo. Those protesters also had the support of the free world. They seem to herald a new day for Lebanon, a new dawn, a new beginning, new possibilities... But this is not what Iran planned for Lebanon, and they worked very hard in these past five years to ensure that Lebanon has a different future.
"Five years later, Lebanon has been taken over - de facto - by Hizbullah, a terror organization that respects no human rights, that crushes human rights into the dust, that brutalizes its own people, that spreads terror throughout the Middle East, that rockets Israel... Just today, Hizbullah's leader announced that he intends to conquer the Galilee. I have news for you: he won't. Anyone hiding in the bunker [a reference to Hizbullah chieftain Nasrallah] should stay in the bunker. Let no one doubt Israel's strength or our ability to defend ourselves…
"…As Prime Minister of Israel, I am responsible for the security of over 7 million Israelis who live in the one and only Jewish state. I cannot simply hope for the best; I must also prepare for the worst. Part of that preparation is to alert the leaders and policymakers around the world to the possible dangers that may lie ahead… because I have a responsibility to do whatever I can to increase the chances that they don't materialize…
"Ultimately, the people of Egypt are those who will decide their own fate. But Israel cannot profess a neutrality as to the outcome. Because above all, we want the Egyptian government to remain committed to the peace with Israel."