Islamist Egypt wipes Israel off the face of earth. Now that’s a headline one would be expecting to see around this time if one bought into all the conservative hyperbolic theories that surrounded the Arab Spring (for example). Conservative pundits argued that regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and even Turkey (which technically was not part of the Arab Spring but experienced a more Islam-oriented political revival in recent years in contrast to its secular, Kemalist past) would soon unite in a frenzy of Islamist passions to seek the utter destruction of the Jewish state.
One would assume if this theory were true, as Israel began its bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip in recent days, these new regimes would unite to help Palestine fend off and defeat the Israelis.
Yet, that is not what is happening at all. If anything, all of these states have been acting in a moderate capacity.
Egypt, for one, has been acting as a mediator, hosting both sides for ceasefire talks and urging both sides to come to peaceful terms. And even prior to this most recent Israeli aerial assault, the new Egyptian regime not only pursued militants in the Sinai who attacked Israelis but also continues to destroy smuggling tunnels, often used to import weapons, between its land and Gaza.
These actions are a far cry from those of maniacal Islamic extremists hell-bent on the destruction of Israel.
But, one may interject, the regimes of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Turkey have all condemned the Israelis for their actions and appear to show favoritism to the Palestinian side. Although this is true, and we will address the efficacy and morality of this shortly, it is most important to note what hasn’t happened.
These more religiously-oriented regimes have not begun shipping arms to Hamas nor have they undertaken training and logistical support to anti-Israeli insurgents.
In addition, Egypt, which still retains relatively strong economic ties with Israel, has not severed trade with or sanctioned the Israeli regime.
Again, these are not the actions of bloodthirsty theocrats.
Returning to the issue of moral support, yes, these regimes have aligned more closely with Palestine. Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan recently stated that “those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes to the face of mass killing of Muslims, turn their heads from the massacre of children in Gaza. For this reason I say that Israel is a terrorist state, and its acts are terrorist acts.”
I would never proclaim Hamas or the more extreme Palestinian factions blameless in all of this. There are plenty of criticisms to pick from concerning their tactics, ideology, and treatment of their own people. But as concerns the Israeli regime and its actions, is Erdogan really that off-base? I think not.