Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Tahrir Revolution an Israeli Perspective

During the Tahrir Revolution, the only dissenting voice was that of Israel's. Israel likes to boast that it's the only democracy in this region, and if truth be told it would like it to stay that way. Dealing with totalitarian regimes is much easier than dealing with democracies.
During the upheaval in Egypt (not that I'm saying it has finished) all Israelis that were interviewed would always mention the Muslim Brotherhood. Even when it was pointed out to them that they had not started the revolution, and were not very prominent in the goings on in the Square. The retort was “look at Iran”.
The difference with Iran was the revolution there had a leader, as you well know.
To day in Haaretz the question was asked "Why no revolution in Israel". Well the Histadrut had announced a General Strike to take place next month before what happened in Cairo. Netanyahu, after seeing what was going on in Egypt quickly stepped in to thwart the planned strike with an increase of the minimum wage by 450 Shekels a month,. The minimum wage is at present 3, 800 Shekels US$ 1000 or approx 600 quid. this increase if approved by the cabinet will be for public sector workers only. The private sector has virtually no rights left any more. Also decreases in the price of petrol, and water rates, but not diesel. The latter is very significant, because this affects the price of food. Food has always been relatively cheap here. But lately the prices have soared. The price of water has also increased simply because Israel has been in a drought situation for some years, and this has also contributed to the price of food going up, and the quality. The changes proposed by the PM still have to be approved by the cabinet, as Israeli governments are always true coalitions, not the elephant mouse type you have in the UK at present, a lot of wrangling will take place before these changes will pass if indeed they will.
During the demonstrations in Egypt the Histadrut tried to arrange several demonstrations in various towns across Israel, but hardly anyone turned up.
Regarding the Egypt situation visa vies Israel. Well we have a period of grace of some few months. No doubt Israeli officials will be in contact with the present rulers in Egypt, and as they are military men, as are most of Israel's top politicians they will find a common language. Time will tell of course what will be the outcome, and if the generals in Egypt will hold elections or maybe they will get used to being in power, and keep putting off elections. This of course is what Israel would like especially as some in the Egyptian opposition have voiced intentions to renegotiate the Israeli Egypt Camp David peace accords if they obtain power. I'm also pretty sure that Jerusalem will make it very clear to both Cairo and Washington that it will not tolerate any government that may arise in Egypt that will in Israel's estimation pose any threat to Israel. I'm not talking about war between the two countries, but help to Hamas or any other organization that Israel would term “Terrorist”. Although Egypt has been rearmed by the US with weapons of either the same type or quality that Israel has, it is still no match for Israel, and I'm sure after 30 years of no war neither side wants to return to a “War Situation" as the Americans would put it.

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