Israel Needs to Learn How To Talk Like An Egyptian

Over at Commentary, Noah Pollak raises a pertinent point:

Credit where it is due: The Egyptians know how to deal with Hamas and especially with the useful idiots who have turned Gaza into a cause celebre. When George Galloway and his traveling roadshow of activists showed up in Egypt to make trouble, the Egyptians simply threw all of them out of the country.

“George Galloway is considered persona non grata and will not be allowed to enter into Egypt again,” a Foreign Ministry statement said. The activist left Egypt Friday morning from Cairo airport. … “He was told that he is a trouble maker and his behavior is undermining Egyptian security.”

This is no exaggeration. The arrival of Galloway’s “relief convoy” was accompanied by Hamas-staged riots along the Gaza border in which a Hamas sniper killed an Egyptian border guard. As a result, “Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit said his country would ban aid convoys from entering its territory.”

Where are the outraged Human Rights Watch press releases? When are the UN Human Rights Council hearings? Where is the collective outrage of the British media? We have banned aid convoys to Gaza — this statement would cause global apoplexy if uttered by the Israeli foreign minister.

But Egypt isn’t done:

Mosques throughout Egypt took advantage of Friday prayers to criticize Hamas…London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Saturday that most of the 140,000 mosques operating under the auspices of Egypt’s Ministry of Awqaf took part in the verbal onslaught on the Palestinian Islamist group. …

According to another imam, Hamas is to blame for the blockade imposed on the Palestinians in Gaza. “Its leaders want to stay in power, even at the cost of their own people’s expulsion and starvation,” the imam said during a sermon at Cairo’s Al-Rahma Mosque.

Egyptian officials speak the terse and confident language of sovereignty. Israelis too frequently employ the defensive language of ethics, unaware that such noble rhetoric, when applied to foreign policy, invites little but skepticism and complaint.

Here’s a good example of this.

Instead of confidently declaring how the so-called “settlement” issue is really a non-issue, explaining how the territories in which these “settlements” were established is historically part of the Jewish homeland and disputed – not occupied – territory, and pointing out that the palestinian insistence on having building in these communities is a recent phenomenon, Regev states emphatically “I understand the palestinian position on settlements.” (2:35) From then on, it really does not matter what he says. Israel has lost the argument.

At a recent bloggers conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy director Ron Dermer said something along the following lines to support his assertion that we need to talk about our rights to our homeland:

The palestinians are saying “You stole my home”, and we reply “but we offered to give you back 95% of it.” Who wins that argument?

Mark Regev and many other Israeli officials and spokespeople could learn a thing or two from Ron Dermer.

And from the Egyptians.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media