The Muslim Brotherhood is trying its best to put a positive spin on its goals, and an Op-ed piece in today’s New York Times by Essam El-Errian, a member of the guidance council of the Brotherhood, makes the group sound like America’s Founding Fathers.
“Moving forward,” he writes, “we envision the establishment of a democratic, civil state that draws on universal measures of freedom and justice, which are central Islamic values.”
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is in Washington meeting top administration officials and Congress members.
Barak is meeting Wednesday with Dennis Ross, the top Iran policy official in the White House; Tom Donilon, the national security adviser; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, as well as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee and other Congress members.
Washington is buzzing with talk that Congress may cut off Egypt's big foreign aid allocation – the second biggest in the U.S. foreign aid program, behind Israel's. Members of Congress, in particular, are making noise about cutting or ending aid going back to the Camp David peace agreement.
Think it's going to happen? Don't bet the kibbutz. In the past, Egypt has had some mighty important lobbyists who pulled out all the stops to ensure that the aid to Cairo continued – and I'm not talking about million-dollar-a-year K Street hired guns.
I've been writing off and on that the Obama administration inherited a situation in Egypt that was bound to go bad, but today's Jackson Diehl column in the Washington Post suggests there's a lot more culpability at the Obama White House than I assumed.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The consensus on U.S. assistance to Egypt is that it has delivered bang for its buck: The $1.3 billion in annual defense aid has stabilized a key ally and strengthened America's profile in the Middle East.
But in the wake of massive unrest that could unseat Egypt’s autocratic leader, the question now emerging is whether sustaining the aid to the current regime would advance a democratic agenda or squelch it -- or whether that should be an American concern at all.
Show a Jew a silver lining, the old saying goes, and he looks for the cloud.
Or, more immediately, show Israelis scenes of Cairo, where tens of thousands are protesting each day for their freedom and human rights, and rather than exalt, Jerusalem worries that the result will be not be a new age of democracy next door but a takeover by radical Islamists determined to end Egypt’s peace treaty with the Jewish state, and worse.
Watching the chaos in Egypt and the confusion at the White House, it seems to me that decades of shortsighted U.S. policy – touting democracy while propping up undemocratic strongmen like Hosni Mubarak, and somehow believing nobody is noticing the gap between our words and deeds - have left policymakers here in an impossible situation.
If we press for the immediate departure of Mubarak, we create a vacuum which forces we fear – not without reason – may effectively exploit.
BE’ER MILKA, Israel (JTA) -- Driving along the Israel-Egypt border near this southern Israeli town, rusted metal posts strung with barbed wire give way to sand dunes and an exposed, open border as wide open as the question of what will become of the countries' relations now that Egypt is in turmoil.
During a break between border patrols, which have been stepped up since the recent protests in Egypt began, a few Israeli soldiers climbing into a Hummer say they have been told to be on alert for possible trouble.
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Natural gas supplies to Israel have been cut off after an explosion in an Egyptian gas line in the Sinai Peninsula.
It is unclear whether Saturday's explosion was caused by a gas leak or by sabotage. The head of Egypt's natural gas company said the explosion was caused by a gas leak; Egyptian state television said the explosion was a result of sabotage. A security official said the blast was caused by an explosive charge detonated inside the terminal, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Gas supply was also cut off to Jordan, according to reports.