As the revolution of Egypt’s youth was rising and gaining ground, the Israeli government held one meeting after another to discuss its effects on the future of Egyptian-Israeli relations and the peace process. This was a logical and natural reaction considering Egypt is the largest country in the Middle East and the Arab world to have signed a peace treaty with Israel. It is also neighbours both Israel and Palestine (through Gaza).
As time passed, Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, made statements saying that Tel Aviv was doing its utmost with the US and western capitals to secure support for the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. This was viewed in Egypt as blatant interference in the country's internal affairs, and a politically opportunistic and myopic move. Netanyahu repeatedly said that the fall of Mubarak’s regime would have a number of consequences, most prominently that the new regime in Cairo would be Islamist, similar to the one in Tehran. This opinion is either based on utter stupidity or a deep fear that Egyptian society will rise up and build a new political order founded on freedom, democracy and political plurality.
This political idiocy is rooted in a history of being unable to understand the composition of Egyptian society and the new forces within its ranks. Israel fails to understand the reality of Egypt, which is that the active force in its contemporary society is middle class youth. They are civic forces who are more likely secular, meaning that they separate religion from politics not society. The proof is in Tahrir Square where everyone converged under the Egyptian flag alone.
It is nonsense to say that any new regime in Egypt will decide to annul the peace treaty with Israel, and demonstrates a myopic outlook as well as the failure of their intelligence apparatus. Leaders of their intelligence community boast to know everything about Egypt, but in reality they know nothing. Egyptian society, whose true essence was revealed during the 25 January revolt, is civic, rational, calculating and has begun spawning a new generation of leaders who will raise Egypt to the stature it deserves.
The second possibility is that they already know all this but fear that Egypt will transform into a civilian democratic state with a strong nationalistic spirit. It will become a civic state, more likely secular, under whose banner all Egyptians will come together regardless of divisive sectarian and religious factors. The country will rise and play a role befitting its stature in the region and the world. They take this position while knowing that such an Egypt would not repeal the peace treaty with Israel. Hence, they want to see Egypt torn apart by sectarian and religious strife, weakened and economically fragile.
The tumultuous events since 25 January have revealed that Israel is and will remain an alien entity incapable of understanding Egyptian society or comprehending its transformation. They buy everything they are sold in delusions and, at critical fateful times, take the wrong decisions which prevent Israel from becoming in a normal state in the region. The Israeli government could have waited and not made any statements until it verifies what is happening, or perhaps it had decided to prevent root transformations in Egypt.
In all cases, it has positioned itself in confrontation of a genuine people’s revolt, affronting the people’s aspirations and ambitions for freedom and democracy. It is confronting the Egyptian generation of “rage” which is the noblest generation to ever come out of Egypt. It is a generation which has gone beyond the successes of the 1919 Revolution; they are a generation which undertook a true revolution, not a military coup supported by the people as witnessed in 1952.
It will pay the price for this in different ways, primarily by remaining an isolated alien entity in a region that has changed at the hands of the Egyptian youth in Tahrir Square.
The writer is an analyst at the Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies