Good news from Egypt

Khaled Abu Toameh reports at the Gatestone Institute:

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s uncompromising war on terrorism, especially along the border with the Gaza Strip, seems to be bearing fruit. It is a war that is being waged away from the spotlight and with almost no reaction from the international community.

This situation is a perfect example of how the international community and the United Nations do not care about the “plight” of the Palestinians as long as Israel is not involved. Sisi’s war on terrorism has thus far failed to spark the same uproar, if any, that is often triggered by Israeli military operations against Hamas and its smuggling tunnels.

As a result of this war — which began in 2013, shortly after Sisi came to power, with the destruction of hundreds of smuggling tunnels along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip — Hamas and other armed groups are now more isolated than ever.

But it is not only the isolation that worries Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip.

Rather, it is that Egypt’s tough security measures –which include the destruction of more than 1700 tunnels and the creation of a security zone along its border with the Gaza Strip — have brought the smuggling of weapons to a near halt.

You will note the point that the international community couldn’t care less what Sisi is doing, because it cannot blame Israel! This is not to say any international concern or criticism would be valid; the Egyptian leader is fighting terrorism, and is surely entitled to do what is necessary – and not what is politically correct – to protect his people.

And the author’s conclusion is an interesting – and hopeful – one:

That the Gaza Strip is facing a weapons shortage is good news not only for Israel and Egypt, but also for the Palestinians living there.

It is hard to see how Hamas will rush into another military confrontation with Israel — where Palestinians would once again pay a heavy price — at a time when Sisi’s army is working around the clock to destroy smuggling tunnels, and the prices of rifles and bullets in the Gaza Strip are skyrocketing.

On the other side of the coin, however, that situation may explain in part the recent IS terrorism aimed at Egypt. (See here, for example.)

Do read all of Khaled Abu Toameh’s piece, here.

Irony of the week

From the Times of Israel report about proceedings in the Egyptian courts involving imprisoned journalists:

“Judge wishes journalists ‘happy’ World Press Freedom Day before denying them bail, returning them to jail”

I don’t think the judge quite got that ‘freedom‘ bit.

You can read the whole report here.

Standards Standards

Or, to put it another way: double standards. You want them? Well, look here:

Egypt vs. Israel casualty coverage

A few things are notable about the current fighting in Egypt between the government and the supporters of Morsi in comparison to how the media covers Israel.

Firstly, as of this writing, the death toll in less than 24 hours is 281, mostly civilians (no matter what you think of the Muslim Brotherhood, while some of them are armed, most of the protesters were peaceful.)

Last November, Israel and Gaza terror groups fought Pillar of Defense. Israel dropped hundreds of bombs on Gaza and the news coverage was non-stop, as was the vitriol against Israel for supposed wanton killings and disregard for civilian lives.

The one day with the most Arab casualties in Pillar of Defense was November 18. Guess how many were killed by Israel’s fearsome war machine on that day?

35.

Either the Egyptian security forces’ bullets are far more deadly than Israel’s bombs and missiles – or Israel was extraordinarily careful in who they targeted and how.

In fact, in one day, Egypt has killed more Arabs than Israel did since January 2012 – including Pillar of Defense!

Also, the number of civilians killed in the current fighting is much, much higher than the number killed by Israel since the end of 2011.

There is another double standard to the reporting that is important to note as well.

The Muslim Brotherhood claimed at various times during the day a death toll of over 2000. While these huge numbers were quoted, practically no reporter took those claims seriously, knowing that the group would tend to exaggerate to a great degree and because the numbers just didn’t seem realistic. The media acted responsibly and reported only the statistics that could be confirmed by more reputable sources.

Yet, the same media swallows the death statistics from Muslim Brotherhood offshoot Hamas and reports them in detail, as fact, without the slightest amount of skepticism.

The only way to explain this is to recognize that the media, by and large, has a false impression of Israel as a brutal regime and is willing to believe the worst about it – no matter how many times the lies are exposed (unfortunately, often days or months later.)

Yet even after seeing the Egyptian security forces machine-gun civilians at point blank range, the media is not willing to believe inflated claims about casualties without further checking.

This encapsulates the problem with media coverage of Israel nicely. Pre-existing biases are assumed true, and fact checking is lacking when the reports fit what the reporter believes.

Watch the coverage from Egypt. The double standards are clear.

As usual, the Elder of Ziyon hits the nail squarely on the head. There is bias in the media against Israel; it’s there in black and white. But the herd instinct is so strong, nobody among the major players is prepared to step back and indulge in some introspection about what they routinely do. (It’s a variation of the emperor’s new clothes syndrome.)

Are they scared? Are they bought and paid for? Do they all subscribe to theory of the end justifies the means, and so as opposed to a Jewish state, don’t care? Do they truly prefer a simple David v Goliath story, instead of the more complex truth?

In short, why does the west have this type of media? And what can we in Israel do about it?

Economic reality

Warning: understatement on the way.

The situation in Egypt and Syria is not good.

Behind the political and factional moves in Egypt there is a simple economic reality: the country is bust, has awful infrastructure, and depends on external aid for its survival. No matter whether Morsi holds on to power, or a more or less jihad inclined person takes over, it’s unlikely there will be any meaningful improvement until the economic situation is tackled. And that won’t be easy.

Behind the civil war in Syria, there is the strong beating heart of religious hatred: Sunni v Shia. Syria’s economic problems are probably not quite as bad as those of Egypt – it did make an attempt to modernize its agriculture – but the differences are probably moot if you are a starving citizen. So, finding a solution to the insoluble civil war would not end the problems in Syria. Arming one side, or the other, or imposing a no-fly zone, seems a bit like shuffling chairs around on the Titanic.

What to do?

I wish I had a solution. I don’t. But I do have a suggestion that people in positions of power and much more talented than me, might consider: focus on the end result that would deliver the best for these failed states. Ignore the politics. Tackle the economics.

What do the people want? A roof over their heads, food to eat, and education for their children would be a good start. Employment would be more than helpful. How can these be delivered? By economic solutions. Aid may play a part, but it will (arguably) be wasted unless it is tied into real change. Not so much political change, but economic change. Maybe they need to ditch their currency. Maybe they need to slash bureaucracy (a classic home for corruption). Maybe they need to start again.

In other words, take a different perspective.

I’m an optimist. We have on this planet immense resources of invention and ingenuity. I believe that somewhere out there, there is an economic driven initiative that can help work towards improving the situation in these places. And with real improvements, the political benefits – or possibilities – will be for the common good. Ok; I’m a naive optimist. But isn’t it worth a try?

If you want some background reading on the matter, I commend this piece by Spengler (aka David P Goldman). He may not share my optimism, but he does highlight – authoritatively – the economic issues.