I am following the street uprisings in Egypt with a most profound sense of apprehension. There is no doubt in my mind as to the ultimate dreadful outcome.
President Hosni Mubarak will be deposed within the next three months. Although leading dissident and former United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei will be the new nominal leader of the Egyptian government, real power will be held by the Muslim Brotherhood. One can expect that within days after the Muslim Brotherhood gains control, the Egyptian government will sever diplomatic relations with Israel and withdraw its recognition of the Jewish State's right to exist.
Just as Iran serves as a base for Shiite Islamic terrorism, Egypt will serve as a base for Sunni Islamic terrorism. Iran presently is the patron of the terrorist Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, and Egypt will henceforth be the patron for Hamas terrorist forces in Gaza. While Mubarak blocked access to forces attempting to provide weapons to Hamas from the Sinai, one can expect that the Sinai will now become a superhighway through which Hamas will be supplied the most sophisticated terrorist military equipment.
Historically, there has been real antipathy between Sunni and Shiite nations, as exemplified by the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. The hatred that Sunni and Shiite Muslim fundamentalists feel towards Israel, however, has resulted in recent collaboration between the terrorist Shiite state of Iran and the terrorist Sunni forces of Hamas. One can expect that eventually, the historic animus between Sunni and Shiite Muslims will result in Egypt and Iran becoming bitter adversarial nations.
Sunni and Shiite Muslim fundamentalists both want to destroy Israel and expel the Jews from the Middle East, however. Accordingly, when it comes to Israel, the new government in Egypt and the government in Iran will cooperate in efforts to utilize their respective terrorist subsidiaries, Hamas and Hezbollah to make life unbearable for the people of Israel.
Accordingly, within the next few years, Israel will be compelled to reoccupy Gaza to crush Hamas terrorism. Eventually, this will bring Israel into conflict with Egypt.
My pessimistic analysis is not only based on my perspective as a strong Jewish supporter of Israel.
As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, I studied the Arab world in depth under the tutelage of the late Dr. Ibrahim Abu-LuGhod, a Palestinian Arab who was one of the two representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) who met with former Secretary of State George Shultz after the United States opened diplomatic contacts with the PLO at the end of the Reagan administration, the other representative being the late Dr. Edward Said of Columbia University.
Under Dr. Abu-LuGhod's direction, I completed an independent study course on the politics of the Arab world. With his assistance, I wrote my political science honors thesis on the Palestinian Arab nationalist movement.
Sadly, my knowledge of the Middle East leads me to the inescapable conclusion that the peace between Israel and Egypt, which has existed since 1977 and for which a great man, former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat gave his life, will soon be at its end. Many observers have termed it a "cold peace".
Two New Jersey stories demonstrate, however, that this peace was much warmer than most people realize. The first story involved former Governor Christie Whitman, in whose administration I proudly served, an excellent governor and a classy and great lady. The second story involved a person I love most dearly and of whom I am most proud, my son Neil.
I served as Assistant Commissioner of the former Department of Commerce and Economic Development during the first term of the Whitman administration and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission during the second term. I also had another role in which I served unofficially as a liaison for Governor Whitman with the New Jersey Jewish community.
In this role, I reviewed and gave recommendations on invitations Governor Whitman received to appear before Jewish religious and secular organizations. Her speechwriters also sent to me for my review speeches to be presented before Jewish audiences. Finally, I was often a "point person" with whom Jewish leaders met to convey to the Governor their concerns about various issues affecting the Jewish community.
All this was a labor of love for me. I can say without hyperbole that Governor Whitman had the best relationship with a statewide Jewish community of any governor in the nation during her tenure. The strong support she received from the Jewish community was a key factor in her reelection in 1997.
Governor Whitman's personal and governmental relationship with the State of Israel was unique among American governors of her era. It began with her trip to Israel in 1992, prior to her becoming governor in 1994. During her initial visit to Israel, Israeli leaders such as the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin actually sought her friendship. Once elected as governor, Whitman became the national leader among American governors on economic development issues. This was a key factor in the increasing trade and mutual investment between New Jersey and Israeli businesses during the 1990s.
I served as one of the coordinators of Governor Whitman's 1996 trade mission to Israel in which over one hundred companies participated, together with various New Jersey governmental and political leaders and media. This trip took place twenty-one months after the Whitman administration opened New Jersey's first trade office in Israel in the city of Ra'anana.
Thus, it should not have surprised me how Governor Whitman was received by Israelis on that trip as a beloved American leader. The Jerusalem Post ran a story about her as a future American President. Everywhere she went, Israelis enthusiastically wanted to greet her.
The adulation of the Israeli public for Christie Whitman did not stop with that trade mission. Two years later, in 1998, I was informed that the Orthodox Jewish outreach organization, Aish HaTorah had invited her to Jerusalem to receive their Friend of Zion Award.
I recommended with alacrity that Governor Whitman accept this award. Aish HaTorah has an outstanding reputation in both Israel and the United States for not only its religious outreach but also its good communal works. The organization has received the endorsement of both Jewish and Gentile prominent American politicians and show business people.