Despite the heady rush of promised independence in Egypt, the ugly specter of antisemitism came on with a vengeance when protesters in Tahrir Square began brandishing posters of President Hosni Mubarak and his new vice president, Omar Suleiman, with Stars of David emblazoned on their foreheads. Sometimes the Jewish symbol was drawn on ties before the two were hung in effigy.
Their crime was their adherence to the 1979 Camp David Peace Treaty with Israel. The pact gave the Egyptian government almost $2 billion a year in US aid and the entire Sinai, but the Muslim Brotherhood has indicated it might be willing to forego the financial incentive.
In fact, Kamal Helbawi, a senior member of the Brotherhood said there was “virtually no peace agreement with the Zionist regime,” and, following the uprising in the country, “any treaty not approved by the Egyptian nation must be abrogated.”
“People worldwide want to see unjust laws scrapped. It is no surprise for the Egyptians to want the same,” he said.
He noted that, following the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, many previously signed treaties were discarded.
“The time is over for surrender to treaties which have brought humiliation to the Egyptian nation,” he said, calling for the permanent opening of the Gaza crossing. Keeping it closed, he said, was a “joint conspiracy of the US, Zionist regime, and Mubarak’s regime.”
Echoing Mr. Helbawi was the Egyptian spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who, in Tahrir Square, prayed for “the conquest of the al-Aqsa Mosque,” which means the conquest of Jerusalem.
Another possible Egyptian leader, Mohammed El Baradei, the Nobel laureate who served as former head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where he developed the reputation for serving as Iran’s front man, has cited the peace accord with Israel as one of the major’s causes of Mr. Mubarak’s unpopularity.
In fact, Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt was with its leaders, who made certain there was never any real peace with the Arab nation. The government-controlled press, television, and even educational curriculum indoctrinated a generation of Egyptians with hatred and falsehoods about the Jewish state.
“The Egyptians never instituted any cultural, commercial, or other normalization policies with Israel, and, indeed, the policy of the government in Cairo was to attack Israel at every single international forum,” said David Shalom, former leader of Betar in the United Kingdom.
But if Israel’s reputation was suffering in Cairo, the Egyptian uprising caused Israel’s stock to rise for several US universities whose students had just begun their semester abroad at the American University in Egypt when the riots broke out.
Five students from Elon University in North Carolina were the first to arrive. The school, maintains a student exchange agreement with Haifa University, and when the violence broke out in Cairo, Elon officials called their counterparts at Haifa’s International School, asking officials there to rescue the American students.
Haifa University hastily prepared dorm rooms for the Americans, who began their new semester in Israel at the end of February.
Arriving, Kate Donovan said the students’ frantic families simply wanted their offspring to get out of Egypt as quickly as possible. “At first, there were options like Lebanon or Jordan, but when they heard that Israel was an option, they preferred we come here. Once they knew we were on our way here, they were much calmer,” she said.
Student Jonathan Ordog said that although the American University is located on an island on the Nile, they could hear gunshots and smell tear gas. “A representative from the international program of the university in Cairo took us to his home on the shore of the Red Sea and, from there, we set on our way to Israel,” he said.
Regardless of what happens in Egypt, the Elon students plan to remain in Haifa throughout the semester, much to their parents’ relief.
Arabic in Jerusalem
A week later, 12 other students from Egypt’s American University arrived in Israel. The students, representing Allegheny, Vanderbilt, Michigan State, Princeton, UCLA, and the University of California at Berkeley, Santa Barbara, and San Diego, will spend the semester at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
“When we heard what was happening in Egypt, some colleges, such as the University of California, reached out to us,” said Jonathan Kaplan, director of Hebrew University’s division of undergraduate studies at the Rothberg International School in Jerusalem.
The school in Jerusalem told officials at the various American universities that if their students needed assistance, “we would be happy to help out,” said Mr. Kaplan.
Nancy Kanach, director of the Office of International Programs at Princeton, expressed her gratitude to Hebrew University for enabling the students to continue their studies of Arabic and Middle East issues “at this important time in the region.”
In Jordan, too, there have been demonstrations, although because denigration of the royal family can result in a three-year prison sentence, criticism of the popular royals has been muted.
But not the antisemitism.
In the middle of February, Jordan’s Justice Minister, Hussein Mujalli, joined protesters outside his own office who were demanding the release of an imprisoned terrorist who shot and killed seven Israeli teenage schoolgirls in 1997 as they toured the “peace island” of Naharayim, right on the Jordanian border.
The murdered 7th and 8th graders from the religious Amit School in Beit Shemesh, were on a class trip when Jordanian soldier Ahmad Daqamseh opened fire, killing seven children and wounding six.
The defense claimed he was “mentally wounded” and could not be held responsible for his actions. After the late King Hussein accompanied then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a series of shiva consolation calls to the children’s bereaved families, Mr. Daqamseh was sentenced by a military court to life in prison.
Mr. Mujalli, who had served as one of Mr. Daqamseh’s lawyers, told the protesters he agreed with them that the former soldier was a “hero,” who should be released.
“If a Jewish person killed Arabs, his country would have built a statue for him instead of imprisonment,” Mr. Mujalli told AFP news, calling Israel is “a hostile, terrorist state.”
Mr. Mujalli said that, as far as he was concerned, the case was not over and that he would continue to defend the murderer.
“We are proud of him as a soldier of this country,” said Mr. Mujalli, insisting that the murdered children “had made a mockery of Mohammed, Islam, and of Daqamseh himself” and had acted “in an immoral manner.”
He claimed that “all this generated strong provocation,” leading to “extreme emotional distress,” grounds, he said, “for a pardon.”
The real culprit, he implied, is Israel, which he called “a state—an entity—occupying Jordanian, Egyptian, and Syrian lands, and Palestine in its entirety.”
“On this occupied land, the [girls] did inappropriate things. The most basic thing he could have done, in defense of his country, his honor as a soldier, and his religion was to open fire as a natural response,” said Mr. Mujalli.
Israel’s ambassador to Jordan, Daniel Nevo, demanded that the Jordanian government, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, issue a condemnation of Mr. Mujalli’s statement, but Jordanian officials would say only that the justice minister did not represent the government.
No one could use that excuse in Libya, where Muammar Qaddafi’s first instinct was to blame the Jews for the unrest sweeping the Arab world.
Now 68, Mr. Qaddafi has been in power in Libya since 1969, making him the current longest-serving leader in the Arab world.
Although Mr. Qaddafi likes to think of himself as a descendant of the Prophet Mohamed, there is a spreading rumor in Israel that, according to halacha, he qualifies as a Jew. According to a report on Israel’s Channel 2, Guita Brown, an Israeli woman, claims to be Mr. Qaddafi’s second cousin. Their grandmothers, she said, were sisters.
Ms. Brown said that Mr. Qaddafi’s Jewish grandmother was married to a Jewish man, but he treated her so badly, she ran away and married a Muslim sheikh. Their child was Mr. Qaddafi’s mother.
While Mr. Qaddafi’s grandmother undoubtedly converted to Islam, she, her offspring, and the offspring of any of her daughters would still be recognized as Jewish.
Some pundits in Israel said, if the story is true, Mr. Qaddafi would be eligible to immigrate to Israel and claim citizenship under the Jewish state’s Law of Return.
Forcing the Law of Return
But as the turmoil in Libya grew worse last month, Mr. Qaddafi’s response to the so-called Days of Rage was for Arabs to “capitalize on the wave of revolts in the Middle East to amass on Israel’s borders” until the Jewish State agreed to capitulate to Arab demands for the so-called “right of return.”
He directed his call to PA Arabs and the millions who define themselves as “Palestinian refugees,” most of them descendants of Arabs who, in 1948, thinking it would be only a temporary absence until the Jews were all killed, obeyed the orders of Arab leaders to leave their homes.
Hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled Israel in 1948 during the Israeli War of Independence. The PA demands that Israel accept those who fled and their millions of descendants as citizens, which would be an end to the Jewish state.
In some countries, among them Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, the descendants of Arabs who fled Israel have not been granted citizenship and live in their own separate enclaves.
“Fleets of boats should take Palestinians and wait by the Palestinian shores until the problem is resolved,” Mr. Qaddafi said on Libyan TV, explaining that the purpose of the mass march would not be to declare war on Israel, but, rather, “to create a problem for the world,” he said.
The brutality with which Mr. Qaddafi is currently treating Libyans protesting against his regime is not new. His brutal attacks against his own people during the turmoil have prompted some pundits to call him once again by the name given to him by the late President Ronald Reagan, “the mad dog of the Middle East.”
Over the years, he has supported a wide variety of terror movements, but his favorite targets were Jews, against whom he encouraged terror attacks throughout the world. At the UN, his representatives regularly propagate blood libels against Jews. During the Oslo War, in 2003, he paid the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade more than $2 million to bankroll a new wave of suicide attacks.
Once the center of a thriving Jewish community, there is no Jewish presence in Tripoli.
After the 1973 massacre of the Israeli athletes in the Munich Olympic Games, almost all of the Arab countries competed for the bodies of the Black September terrorists who were killed at the German airport. Mr. Qaddafi, too, wanted the privilege of arranging the funerals to be able to hail as “heroes” and “martyrs” the five assassins of the Jewish athletes.
In 1985, Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Achille Lauro Italian cruise ship, killing one elderly American. The mastermind was later given a hero’s welcome in Tripoli by Mr. Qaddafi.
The victim, Leon Klinghoffer, was shot in his wheelchair and then pushed overboard. Mr. Klinghoffer’s body washed ashore five days later in Syria.
For Mr. Klinghoffer and his wife, Marilyn, their cruise on the Achille Lauro was a celebration of their 36th wedding anniversary.
In 1988, it was widely suspected that Mr. Qaddafi was involved in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 people were killed. A Libyan, Basset al-Megrahi, was convicted of carrying out the attack and held in in a Scottish prison.
In 2009, presumably for health reasons, Mr. al-Megrahi was released. Although doctors at the time said he had cancer and only three months to live, he has, thus far, outlived their predictions.
At the end of February, there was a report from a Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Mohammed Abud al Jeleil, who rebelled against Mr. Qaddafi, saying that the Libyan chief had personally “given the order for Lockerbie.”
“He did everything in his power to get Megrahi back from Scotland,” said Mr. al Jeleil, who accused Mr. Qaddafi of protecting Mr. al-Megrahi in order to conceal his own role in the deadly attack. “Qaddafi ordered Megrahi to do it.”
Mr. Jeleil resigned his post in protest of violence in Libya, where Mr. Qaddafi’s regime has killed an estimated 1,000 demonstrators.