Monday, July 28, 2008

30 Years After Camp David: A Peace Of Ice

Eric Trager was recently in Egypt, "where he met with democracy advocates and their opponents, investigated media culture, and examined other aspects of contemporary Egyptian political life". He has been blogging about his experiences. Today he posted about the reason for the discrepancy between the number of Israelis who visit Egypt and Egyptians who visit Israel. After discussing some of the natural reasons for the difference, he goes into the lengths the Egyptian government has gone to in order to dissuade Egyptians from meeting Israelis:
According to an Egyptian evangelical pastor who asked that his name be withheld, Egyptians who wish to travel to Israel must apply for special single-use passports - a process that automatically places them on an official government register. Upon returning to Egypt, they are frequently questioned by state security officials and closely monitored. Egyptian friends who have expressed their desire to visit Israel have confirmed this account.

Moreover, even when Egyptians seek to interact with Israelis without visiting the Jewish state, Egyptian security services may intervene. One Egyptian academic, who asked that his name be withheld, shared the following story. Recently, he had been invited to an event sponsored by the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, and intended to attend. Shortly before the event, however, Egyptian security services contacted him, “advising” him not to attend - the implication being that there would be retribution if he did otherwise. Apparently, Egyptian security had learned of his intention to attend the event by monitoring his mail.
Mubarak feels no obligation to reciprocate with Israel after the windfall he received from his predecessor's signing a peace treaty. Just what, if anything, would Abbas' successor--or Abbas himself--feel obligated towards Israel once he gets a Palestinian state? Israel should be so lucky that all they would get is the cold shoulder.

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