Obama Calls Uprisings ‘Huge Opportunity’
Events on ground remain more ambiguous for U.S., Israel
If the question we are perennially asking ourselves is, “Is it good or bad for the Jews?” then in the past six weeks that inquiry has manifested itself as whether the wave of democratic uprisings and even regime changes throughout the Arab world will mean good or bad things for the Jewish state. Tablet Magazine has explored it extensively—see here, here, here, and here. This past weekend, President Obama weighed in (not, unfortunately, in Tablet Magazine): “All the forces that we see building in Egypt,” he told a group of American Jewish leaders at a nominally private meeting, “are the forces that should be naturally aligned with us. Should be aligned with Israel.” He added, “We can’t be naive about the changes that are taking place in the Middle East. Our commitment to Israel’s security is inviolable, is sacrosanct. But we should not be afraid.” He concluded: “I’m actually confident that 10 years from now we’re going to be able to look back and say that this was the dawning of an entirely new and better era.”
“It’s a dangerous time, but it’s also a huge opportunity for us,” he also said, although, in fact, this administration appears to be adopting a policy of quietly working against regime changes in those Arab countries—namely, all of them except for Tunisia and Egypt—where regime change hasn’t already occurred (the jury is still out in Libya, whose situation is as sui generis as its murderous, beleagured leader).
Elsewhere, Tunisia’s small Jewish community shares the president’s confidence. And Karim Sajadpour offers a persuasive argument for why the regime in Iran—Israel’s biggest enemy—stands mostly to lose from recent events.
But the new Egyptian government’s consideration of easing its enforcement of the Gaza blockade, which it implements at the Strip’s southern border, is no doubt a cause of uneasiness in Israel. Already at least a dozen anti-Israel militants have escaped Egyptian prisons and returned to Gaza. And with reports that former President Hosni Mubarak’s sons were receiving kickbacks from natural gas sales to Israel—transactions that everyone has thought were maybe a bit fishy—Israel’s current energy situation could be adversely affected.
Want a respite from doom and gloom? As far as the Muslim Brotherhood is concerned, here are five reasons not to fear them, and here Eli Lake reports that, with Mubarak gone, the United States and Israel will be able to make less inhibited decisions on how to approach the Brothers. Let’s hope they make the right ones (er, whatever those are).
Obama Upbeat About Israel’s Future [The Caucus]
U.S. Waves on ‘Regime Change’ [WSJ]
Tunisian Jews Reportedly Embrace Revolution, Don’t Fear Islamism [JTA]
Arabs Rise, Tehran Trembles [NYT]
Egypt Considers Easing Gaza Blockade, Says Diplomat [AP/Haaretz]
New Egypt Foreign Minister Likely to be Tougher on Israel [WP]
Report: Mubarak’s Sons Received Millions for Supporting Israel Gas Sales [Haaretz]
Five Myths About the Muslim Brotherhood [WP]
Look Who’s Talking [TNR]
Related: Egypt on the Brink [Tablet Magazine]
Nation State [Tablet Magazine]
Democratic State [Tablet Magazine]
Revolutionary Choices [Tablet Magazine]