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Bad news for Israel
The Jerusalem Post
2 Feb 2011

Egyptís democracy protests across the board spell bad news for Israel, which is more democratic than most countries in the Middle East, but not democratic enough.

Tens of thousands of protestors have filled the streets in Egyptís major cities demanding the resignation of its president-for-life Hosni Mubarak and the backlash has impacted the monarchy in Jordan and the dictatorship in Syria.

Mubarak is not the worst Arab tyrant in the Middle East, but he is viewed as a puppet of the United States which currently finds itself in a curious position. Does the US back democracy in Egypt as it has in other countries or does it try to help Egypt make a transition from a dictatorship to a more open dictatorship?

Why are Americans even balking at calling for an end to the dictatorial rule in Egypt? Because Egypt is the cornerstone of American and Israeli foreign policy in the Middle East.

Without Egypt supporting the status quo, Israel especially has much to lose.

The average Egyptian does not support the peace accord that signed by Mubarakís predecessor, Anwar Sadat on Sept.17, 1978. Sadat tried to argue that peace between Egypt and Israel would usher in peace with the Palestinians, Jordanians, Syrians and Lebanese. Save for Jordan, that peace is still elusive.

After Sadatís assassination, Mubarak, one of his generals became president. Not known for his diplomatic talents, he became the caretaker of the unpopular peace with Israel.

Though he is a dictator, Egyptians have enjoyed more freedoms than most citizens in other Arab countries.

Israelís main benefit from its peace accord with Egypt was not only the hope of establishing normal relations, but also clearing away the threat of wars, lead by Egypt until then.

Once it signed an agreement with Israel, the threat of a regional war vanished, replaced by proxy wars like those fought against the vanguards of radical Islam, Hamas and Hizbullah, agents of Iran, also a nation of tyrants and dictators.

On the surface, Egyptís turn to democracy sounds good, although it has put America and Israel in awkward positions: sure they want democracy, but not if that democracy undermines the peace accords with Israel.

Peace with Israel under its present terms can only be enforced by a dictator like Mubarak. Democracy will give the people a voice and their voice clearly demands that the peace accord be broken.

If Egypt falls, that chorus of anti-Israel sentiment will grow across the Arab world, possibly even sparking new regional wars. Already, protestors in Jordan have taken to the streets and Syrian dictator Bashir al- Assad is moving fast to prevent similar protests in his country.

Israel may then find itself regionally back in time to the 1960s, isolated by the Arab world and constantly fearing more wars.

THE ARAB world may be under the foot of dictators, friend and foe to the West and Israel, but the Arab people are smart enough to see through the years of false promises and bad deals on Israelís part.

If democracy revails in Egypt and the people take control, Israel will face a pivotal moment: to either continue its current course of rejecting peace or taking negotiations with the Palestinians more seriously as a first step towards becoming a real member of the Middle East community.

Democracy is good, but it carries with it a real price that will disrupt the conveniences of the status quo.

The biggest losers will be the dictators, Western foreign policy and, likely, Israel.

The writer is an award-winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host.

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