A protester who opposes Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, is seen through a flag, on which the word Egyptian is inscribed, as she chants slogans during a demonstration against Mursi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood at Tahrir Square in Cairo,

Encountering Peace: In defense of democracy

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The Egyptian ambassador in London, Ashraf el-Kholy, has likened the Muslim Brotherhood to Hitler and Nazism.

The Egyptian ambassador in London, Ashraf el-Kholy, has likened the Muslim Brotherhood to Hitler and Nazism. He said,

[Mohamed] Morsi was elected president and held office for one year but in that time he tried to make everything Muslim Brotherhood- controlled. Egyptian culture over 5,000 years is a mix of religions and civilizations in which the Islamic religion is one ingredient of the Egyptian character…. The Muslim Brotherhood are like a Nazi group that demand that everything changes and people everything to their way.

The Muslim Brotherhood, like Hamas in Gaza, was elected democratically, and so was Hitler’s Nazi party. While I do not accept the comparison made by the Egyptian ambassador, it has its relevance in the right of democracies to protect themselves from those who essentially seek their destruction.

When Hamas was elected in 2006 the international community accepted Hamas’s victory yet put conditions on the democratically elected government’s legitimacy as a partner for normal international relations.

Those conditions included a renouncement of violence and the armed struggle against Israel, the adherence to previous signed agreements with Israel, and the recognition of Israel.

Hamas rejected those conditions and remains to this day a persona non grata in the international arena.

The Muslim Brotherhood took control of a recognized sovereign state and immediately announced that it would adhere to all international agreements and conventions Egypt was party to, among them being the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement. President Morsi remained faithful to that principle while at the same time delegating all contact with Israel to the military and intelligence services, and not allowing any members of his Freedom and Justice Party to have any contact with Israelis.

I did have contact with Freedom and Justice members at an international regional conference I attended last year.

They were not very friendly and they made no promises. I spoke to them about the need for Egypt to release Ouda Tarabin, an Israeli Beduin citizen who has been in Egyptian prison for more than 12 years on false charges of being a spy for Israel.

In my two visits to Cairo over the past year I reached out to the Brothers to try and meet with them, but got no responses to my emails or phone calls. I tried to speak to some of the leaders of the party, and was told through a third party to stop doing so.

I don’t take their rejection to speak with me personally, but I do relate to it nationally. As an Israeli with a naturally pro-Western political world view I could not look at the Muslim Brotherhood victory as a positive sign for the democratization of the Middle East. I did not accept the belief of some of my colleagues that the Muslim Brotherhood would moderate its positions when facing the reality of governance.

With absolutely no previous experience at running anything, they failed miserably, bringing the Egyptian economy to its knees, and at the same time worked overtime to impose their nontolerant political worldview on 90 million Egyptians.

Their victory in Egypt and Tunisia, their strength in Libya and growing power among the Syrian opposition were all bad signals for freedom and democracy. When the Tahrir revolution began I was glued to Al Jazeera 24/7 as I watched young people who had been oppressed by dictatorships stand up for their rights. I was with them in spirit in Tahrir. But with the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood their revolution took a turn for the worse and the hopes of Tahrir and the Arab Spring quickly turned into the dark fall of religious fanaticism and oppression.

I look at the past year of Muslim Brotherhood rule as a friend of Egypt, as a resident of the region and as someone who is greatly concerned with the future of the entire Middle East and the Muslim world. The June 30 Second Egyptian Revolution is a good thing. It was clear that while the Muslim Brotherhood won the elections, the results of those elections did not truly reflect the will of the Egyptian populace.

The failed governance of the Brothers and their attempts to change Egypt from the ground up give legitimacy to the toppling of the Morsi government and the determined resolve demonstrated by the Egyptian interim government and the military to crush the counterrevolution of Morsi’s supporters. The end of the reign of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is good for the entire Middle East and for the world.

It is true that there have been many casualties, perhaps more than necessary.

Certainly every innocent casualty is a tragedy. I saw the TV footage of armed Morsi supporters shooting recklessly into crowds, killing policemen and soldiers.

We are all witness to the horrendous crime of aggression committed by jihadi fanatics in Sinai against Egyptian soldiers. The Egyptian interim government and the army are correct in using the force necessary to defeat those enemies of Egypt.

Once the decision was taken to bring down the Morsi government, there was no possibility of being soft on those who continued to threaten the very existence of the Egyptian state. Egypt had to be reset in order to ensure that over the next year real democracy will begin to hold ground, not only democratic elections but the basic values that will ensure freedom and dignity for all Egyptians.

The US government and the EU, which have been known for supporting dictatorship regimes in the past, should look with a more discerning eye at what is happening in Egypt. Supporting the return of Morsi to power is supporting a regime which is anti-western, anti-democratic, anti-Israel and, as its behavior has shown, anti-Christian.

There is nothing democratic about a regime which uses its power to change the constitution and impose foreign values on 90 million people.

The new interim regime will convene elections when the situation allows in the coming year. The new regime will offer a new constitution based on more liberal democratic values.

The new interim regime will adhere to its peace agreement with Israel. They will fight Islamic fundamentalist terrorists and will retake control of Sinai. This regime will be pro-Western.

In Egypt, democracy is fighting to save democracy. It is a lesson well worth observing because there are other parts of the region which are calling for the same thing. Right next door to us in Gaza there are young people adopting the Tamarod (the movement in Egypt behind the June 30 revolution) who call for an uprising against Hamas. We should all hope that they are successful.

The author is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His new book, Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel, has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew.

Originally Published in the Jerusalem Post

Asmaa Waguih

Asmaa Waguih

Photo: A protester who opposes Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, is seen through a flag, on which the word “Egyptian” is inscribed, as she chants slogans during a demonstration against Mursi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood at Tahrir Square in Cairo, February 22, 2013. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
Reuters photographer Asmaa Waguih, pictured, was shot in the foot on August 14, 2013 while covering an operation by Egyptian security forces to clear protesters in Cairo demanding the reinstatement of deposed President Mohamed Mursi. She was taken to hospital.

Gershon Baskin

Gershon Baskin

Gershon Baskin is one of the most recognizable names in the Middle East Peace process. His dedication to creating a culture of peace and environmental awareness, coupled with his impeccable integrity, has earned him the trust of the leaders of all sides of the century old conflict. Few people have such far-reaching and positive impacts on promoting peace, security, prosperity and bi-national relationships.
Gershon is an advisor to Israeli, Palestinian and International Prime Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process and the founder and director of IPCRI, the Israeli-Palestinian Public Policy Institute. He was the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas for the release of 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis of which 280 were sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Jewish targets that resulted in the killing of 569 Israelis in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. Gershon is actively involved in research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, environmental security, political strategy, peace education, economics, culture and in the development of affordable solar projects with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.
Gershon Baskin