On Sunday, Israeli forces thwarted a terrorist attempt on its borders when fifteen innocent Egyptian soldiers were murdered by Islamist gunmen who stole a vehicle to try to invade Israeli sovereignty. As evidenced by the callous disregard for their fellow Muslims, the terrorists have sent a message. No one is safe.
Many in the Arab world wish to blame terrorism on Israel, and some even tacitly endorse murderous parties like Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Sunday’s mission should be a stark reminder that next on the Islamist list of targets are anyone else who stands in their way to power. If any government official refuses to kowtow to one man’s interpretation of faith, they could be next on the chopping block. According to news reports, Israel and Egypt have been working together to get to the source of this terrorist plot.
If anything good can come out of this, let it be more cooperation between Israel and Egyptian moderates. After all, they both have pretty similar goals. They both want a stable country, with a productive economy that will allow the people to have normal lives. Both sides are under the risk of terror, and as neighbors who share a border; both countries can help protect each other. So the question for Egyptians is, do you hate Israel more than you love your country?
In fact, this goes beyond terrorism. Egypt has a lot of other benefits with a friendship with Israel. Egypt’s economy is burdened by 40% of the budget going to military ventures, and years of corruption and high unemployment have dredged down what could be a thriving government. Israel is a well-regarded, advanced economy that could be an incredible partner to help stimulate the Egyptian GDP. Imagine the exchange of goods and services, not to mention the exchange of culture through joint scholarship. The possibilities for mutual gain are endless.
Closer to my heart, a peaceful Egypt with good relations with Israel would also mean more tourism dollars. I for one would love to go to Luxor to see the mummies and the pyramids but fear taking my life into my hands as a Jewish woman of Israeli ancestry. While I do know there is some travel between the countries, I’m sure Israelis would love to be able to fly short trips to see the wonders of the ancient world, the way the English do on short jaunts to France.
Most importantly, Egypt as a friend to Israel can help be a strong partner for peace by putting pressure on the Palestinians to end their fruitless campaign to destroy Israeli sovereignty. They can help repatriate Palestinian refugees and help bridge the gap between other Muslim countries. This would be a tremendous source of prestige to a country that is currently thought of in world opinion as lawless and chaotic.
An Arab proverb states that when one seeks revenge or evil, one should dig a grave for oneself as well. Contributing to terror in the world will only backlash violently and create more suffering. A new proverb for the future:
When seeking good, build bridges.
Israel is waiting.