As Egypt convulses in revolution, America hedges its bets and drags its heels (perhaps wisely, and perhaps for not much longer) and Israel stakes out a position all-too-familiarly out of step with the rest of the world. But it's good to see that there are prominent voices in both the U.S. and Israel looking to the future—and trying to find the best path forward.
An editorial in the Israeli paper Haaretz yesterday caught the momentousness of the week’s events:
“Hopefully the turmoil in Egypt, which is affecting all its allies in the Middle East and West, will encourage leaders there and in Arab states to quickly change the contract between the regime and the citizens. This is a new order that hopefully the whole region will move toward. It deserves to be encouraged by the West.
And in today’s New York Times, Sen. John Kerry became the most powerful U.S. politician to explicitly call for Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to step down:
“It is not enough for President Mubarak to pledge ‘fair’ elections, as he did on Saturday. The most important step that he can take is to address his nation and declare that neither he nor the son he has been positioning as his successor will run in the presidential election this year. Egyptians have moved beyond his regime, and the best way to avoid unrest turning into upheaval is for President Mubarak to take himself and his family out of the equation.”
Kerry writes honestly about the fact that America’s “public rhetoric” concerning Egypt over the past three decades has not jibed well with its “private concerns”—and how our reliance on Mubarak’s military as a stabilizing force in the Middle East is based on pragmatism rather than ideology. And he even brings up how our support of the Shah of Iran in the 1970s is still costing us today. Interesting to read in light of Wikileaks' recent exposure of all those diplomatic cables. Would something like this have been as easy for a senator to write a year ago? Would it have caused more uproar upon being read? Are we already seeing the effects of a new forced transparency? Maybe so. Maybe not. But it’s interesting to consider.
Image: ASSOCIATED PRESSAP