The revolution that ended the decades-long reign of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak in February is transforming the peaceful coexistence—even if an uneasy one—between Egypt and Israel that has served those nations well for some thirty years. Mr. Mubarak may have been a dictator, but his authoritarian government, at least, made Egypt a dependable neighbour of Israel, something Israel sadly lacks elsewhere in the region.
Recent events at the Israeli-Egypt border show how quickly the worst fears of Israel’s friends are being realized: that the Arab Spring would unleash in Egypt pent-up anger fueled by deep-seated hatred of Israel—and perhaps of Jews in general—over its conflict with Palestinians.
The killing of three Egyptian security officers by an Israeli warplane following a series of attacks that killed eight Israelis on Thursday, has prompted Egypt to announce that it would recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv. Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, released a statement saying, “We regret the deaths of members of the Egyptian security forces during the terror attack on the Israeli-Egyptian border.”
The Egyptian cabinet, however, rejected the statement, saying it did not go far enough in accepting responsibility. The fact that lax Egyptian security along the border almost certainly allowed the terrorist attacks to be carried out seems to be immaterial to Egyptian authorities. They seem willfully blind to the reality that had the terrorist attacks not occurred, the three Egyptian security officers would certainly be alive today.
Egypt’s transitional government has failed to maintain security on its side of the shared border in the Sinai Peninsula. Egyptian police have all but disappeared in the Bedouin-dominated northern Sinai, allowing a series of bombings to disrupt natural gas supplies to Israel. The Egyptians have not accepted any part of the responsibility for what happened, something so typical of Arab states in their relationships with Israel.
As thousands of protesters gathered yesterday for a second night outside the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, demanding the expulsion of the ambassador, one can only wonder at how quickly the promise of the Arab Spring has turned into another deadly threat to the Jews of Israel.