tothepointanalyses
tothepointanalyses

Archive for July, 2013

The Boycott of Israel Eight Years In – An Analysis (28 July 2013) by Lawrence Davidson

 

 

Part I – Happy Birthday, BDS

 

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement directed toward Israel is eight years old. It was started back in 2005, when a coalition of Palestine-based social and economic organizations called for such a comprehensive effort.  

 

At first the BDS movement appeared to be a long shot. Israel, with its worldwide coterie of Zionist supporters, both Jewish and Christian, seemed invincible. Particularly in the Western world, the belief in Israel’s legitimacy had reached the status of sacred tradition. The Zionists worked very hard to achieve this status by controlling the historical interpretation of events that had led from World War I and the Balfour Declaration to the creation of Israel in 1948, and beyond. They might well have been able to maintain control of Israel’s past, present and future if the Zionist leadership had not succumbed to the sin of hubris. They became so ideologically self-righteous and militarily muscle-bound that they believed their place in the world to be untouchable. Thus, as they built a country based on discrimination and colonial expansion in an age increasingly critical of such societies, they refused all compromise with the Palestinians and treated criticism of their behavior and policies as at once anti-Semitic and irrelevant. They therefore failed to notice that their stubbornness was allowing others to erode the Zionist version of the history of modern Palestine/Israel.   

 

Eight years is not a very long time, but a surprising amount has been accomplished. Increasing numbers of people, particularly in the Western world, have been made aware of the plight of the Palestinians as well as their version of the history of Palestine/Israel. With this change in historical perspective, BDS established a foothold and started to grow. The movement has spent most of its time since 2005 coordinating a series of efforts to convince private-sector consumers, businesses, academics and artists to cut their ties with the Zionist State and its colonies. The latest success in this effort came just recently, when two of the largest supermarket chains in the Netherlands announced they would no longer sell Israeli merchandise manufactured or grown in the Occupied Territories (OT). Indeed, so successful has BDS been that the Israeli government has established an official task force to counteract it. 

 

Part II – The European Union Makes a Move

 

Another recent event may be even more significant, because it suggests the potential for expanding BDS from the private to the public sphere. This was signaled when the European Union (EU) issued new rules for implementing certain categories of funding agreements with Israel. Funding of grants, prizes, loans and other financial cooperative ventures will now exclude Israeli institutions located in or doing business with the OT. 

 

I want to emphasize the notion of “potential” because the EU move is not a boycott action as such. It is a signal to Israel that the EU will not recognize Israel’s claim to any part of the Occupied Territories without a peace settlement, and therefore this move serves as a point of pressure on the Israeli government to give up its hubris and negotiate with the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). By the way, the PNA as presently constituted is not a representative body and therefore has no legal authority to negotiate anything. However, the EU (along with the Israelis and the United States) persistently ignores this fact. 

 

Nonetheless, this EU ruling is a step in the right direction, and some important Israelis understand the message. For instance, the Israeli peace organization Gush Shalom released a statement that said that the “EU has started to confront the government of Israel – and every citizen of Israel – with a road sign that cannot be ignored.” At least not without moving Israel toward “being an international pariah.” The renowned columnist and reporter for Israel’s newspaper Haaretz, Gideon Levy, has declared “The change [Israel needs] won’t come from within. . . .Change will only come from the outside.” Therefore, “Anyone who really fears for the future of the country needs to be in favor of boycotting it economically.” And, Israel’s justice minister, Tzipi Livni, the present government’s only minister publicly in favor of negotiations with the Palestinians, has warned that the threat of European economic sanctions extends beyond the OT. “It’s true that it will begin with the settlements,” she stated. “But their [a growing number of Europeans’] problem is with Israel, which is perceived as a colonialist country, so it won’t stop with the settlements and will reach all of Israel.”  

 

Livni is correct. Israel’s version of history notwithstanding, the country’s origin is as a colonial settler state. As suggested above, the result was an inherently discriminatory society. This is not because most Israeli citizens are Jewish. It is because most are Zionists. Modern Zionism, which still reflects the colonial outlook of nineteenth-century imperial Europe, is the guiding ideology of Israel, and it proclaims that the country must be a Jewish State. Unfortunately, you can’t design a country for one group only, in a land where there also exists other sizable groups, and not end up with a discriminatory and oppressive society. Therefore, even if, by some miracle, the Israelis see the light and withdraw from the OT, there will still be a BDS movement agitating for an end to discrimination against non-Jews within the 1948 borders. 

 

Part III – Israel’s Negative Reaction

 

Becoming a real democracy, where all citizens enjoy genuine political equality, is Israel’s only way of escaping the inevitable isolation that comes with the growing BDS movement. Yet, there is no reason to believe that the ideologues who now control the Israeli political and religious power structures are going to move in this direction. One can see this not only from the growing effort the Israeli government is putting into countering BDS, but also from the angry reaction of its political leaders to the EU decision.  

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the EU decision with the temperament of a monarch. “We will not accept any external edicts on our borders.” That was, perhaps, the royal “we” he used. Then it was back to the first-person singular: “I will not let anyone harm the hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, in the Golan Heights, or in Jerusalem – our united capital.” The prime minister was quite off base in his pronouncements. He is the head of a country that has meticulously avoided setting borders for decades just so Israel could expand at opportune moments. That sort of imperial behavior is not well accepted in today’s world. Also, unless he can greatly increase Zionist lobby leverage on the EU, he has no way to prevent the “harm” that may finally befall his compatriots for naively assuming the whole world will accept their criminal behavior forever.   

 

The entire episode points to the fact that, both in the private and public sectors of Western society, greater numbers of people no longer follow the line of historical interpretation set down by the Zionists. This is a major shift. Many Zionists might see this as a sign of growing anti-Semitism, but it really is nothing of the sort. There is nothing inherently Jewish about discrimination and colonialism. However, the same cannot be said for modern Zionism.  

 

Part IV – Conclusion

 

Again, the BDS movement is only 8 years old. We can compare this to the more than 30 years it took the boycott of South Africa to end apartheid. So, comparatively, BDS is only at the beginning of its trek. Its fast start and ongoing achievements should bring hope and pride to those involved in the movement. They should also raise some serious second thoughts in the minds of those Israelis who think Netanyahu and his government of ideologues can prevent their country’s increasing isolation. 

On the Death of Helen Thomas – An Analysis (21 July 2013) by Lawrence Davidson

 

Helen Thomas (1920 – 2013)

 

Helen Thomas, the renowned journalist, died on 20 July 2013 at the age of 92. She was the first woman journalist to cover the White House and did so for an unprecedented 50 years. She lasted in that job despite always asking the tough questions. It was a glorious run besmirched only late in her career by opportunistic attacks by Zionist American ideologues. When that happened, as described below, I wrote a piece in her defense. It was originally put online in June 2010, but is here represented in an updated form.

 

Part I – Helen Thomas Gets Angry

 

Helen Thomas was the most respected journalist of the White House press corp.  However, she made a mistake the other day of wearing her feelings on her sleeve, so to speak, on a topic of deadly political sensitivity. She said out loud that the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and return to Europe. Palestine is “not German, its not Polish” she added. Unfortunately, the whole thing ended up on a YouTube video. Predictably, the American Zionists jumped all over her. Several former White House operatives, who may have resented Thomas’s hard questioning of their bosses, were at the front of this charge. Lanny Davis, former Clinton White House Counsel, immediately announced that Thomas should be “stripped of her honors for having crossed the line of freedom of speech.” The attempt by supporters of Israel to exempt criticism of the Zionist State from the protections of the First Amendment of the Constitution has been ongoing. Davis added that Thomas “has shown herself to be an anti-Semtic bigot.” Another former White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, said Thomas should be fired from her post and her White House press credentials revoked. He also called her an anti-Semitic bigot. B’nai B’rith’s international President Dennis Glick and Vice President Daneil Marlaschin accused Thomas of being an ally of Iranian President Ahmadinejad and being part of a cabal seeking to “delegitimize Israel.”

 

Part II – Issues for Consideration

 

The way the Israelis behave they have no need of Helen Thomas to “delegitimize”their country. They are doing a fine job of that on their own. Thomas’s remarks came in the aftermath of a piratical attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla, during which Israeli commandos murdered nine aid activists on the Mavi Marmara. Acting as they do, the Zionists really have little legitimate cause to get angry at other people’s anger. Thomas’s remarks were obviously made in a mood of anger and frustration. We all make statements during fits of anger most of which, thankfully, do not end up on YouTube.

 

But we also know that most of the time these statements do not reflect our otherwise realistic and level-headed point of view. I once heard a respected Middle East historian, delivering a talk at an annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association, say that the world would be a better place if Israel broke off from its geographical position and slid to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. Was this man a bigot? No he was not. He was Jewish. And he was not a “self-hater.” However, he was angry.

 

Thomas offered an apology stating that she regrets the “comments I made last week regarding Israelis and the Palestinians.” There is no doubt that she really does regret it, considering the hot water it put her in. She goes on and says that “they do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.” Given her fifty-plus years of honest and penetrating reporting there is no reason to doubt that this last statement represents the sober Helen Thomas – when not confronted with horrific Israeli behavior. The accusations of bigotry and the calls for the ruination of her career are way out of proportion and, when coming from Zionists such as Fleischer, Glick and Marlaschin, they are undoubtedly opportunistic.

 

Part III – Zionist Bigotry

 

Now, since we are on the topic of bigotry, let’s consider the behavior of the Zionists in this regard. After all if one labels their critics as bigots, one should take a look at the basis for their criticism. The bitter truth is that Israeli Jews have spent the last 65 years systematically discriminating against Israeli Arabs and, as far as the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories go, they have set up a system of control that smacks of apartheid. A recent survey of Israeli Jews shows that a good number of them do not want Palestinians as neighbors or allowed to live in the same apartment blocks as they do. Israel’s school textbooks have purposely eradicated the Palestinian history of the place they now call the Jewish state.

 

This discriminatory environment is promoted by the Israeli government. This is how the Israeli journalist Mya Guarnieri describes the situation: “The continued maltreatment of Palestinians puts every Israeli’s freedom at risk on a daily basis. If your government disregards the rule of law, disenfranchises your neighbor and tramples his most basic human rights, how can you expect that your own freedoms will remain intact?” But freedom in Israel is too often seen as a strictly ethnocentric privilege. This is not to say there are not fair-minded and humane Israeli Jews who know that there is something seriously wrong with the society they live in. There are. They are just a too small minority.

 

In other words, Israel as now constituted and operated is a state of active or passive bigots. That conclusion is based on evidence (evidence backed up by most of the world’s human rights organizations, including those in Israel). That being the case, I assert that Israel today is a racist place and should be transformed from a “Jewish state” to a democratic secular state, a state where all its citizens have equal rights. That does not require all of Israel’s Jews to go back to Europe, or to be drowned in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It just requires the destruction of the ideology of Zionism.

 

If the folks at B’nai B’rith get hold of this I will bet dollars to donuts that they would have conniptions and call me an anti-Semitic bigot. That seems to be the way it goes in our world of double standards.

A National Debate about Government Spying?  An Analysis (15 July 2013) by Lawrence Davidson 

 

Edward Snowden

 

Part I – The New York Times Takes a Stand (Sort Of)

 

On 8 July 2013 the New York Times (NYT) published an editorial on the issue of National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans. The editorial described the issue as one of “overwhelming importance” worthy of national debate, and noted that President Obama said that he welcomed such a debate. Then the NYT pointed to a core problem: “This is a debate in which almost none of us know what we’re talking about.” 

 

It turns out that everything about the NSA surveillance operation is “classified” and therefore done in secret. As a result there is no public access to the information needed for a debate. That is, until the “leaker” Edward Snowden risked all to tell the American public and, indeed, the whole world, about it. 

 

Thus, the public now finds out that all the legal justifications for NSA operations are themselves secret. For instance, there is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, originally created by Congress to judge the legitimacy of government requests for wiretaps. According to the NYT this court “has for years been developing a secret and unchallenged body of laws . . .” that now go far beyond its original mandate. Yet the process of the court’s runaway empowerment has been beyond contesting. As the NYT puts it, there is a “complete absence of any adversarial process” which is, after all, “the heart of our legal system.” To demonstrate this, the editorial tells us “the government in 2012 made 1,789 requests to conduct electronic surveillance; the court approved 1,788 (the government withdrew the other one). Were they all legitimate requests? It is impossible to know because “no one was allowed to make a counterargument.” In other words, the court is an ever more widely used rubber stamp for a part of the government which in its apparently addictive pursuit of information is now literally monitoring us all.  And, it is doing so completely in secret, with no checks and balances. 

 

The NYT concludes that this situation constitutes a “perversion of the American justice system” which Congress, playing (in my view) the role of Dr. Frankenstein, has not been able to bring under control. “The [surveillance] court has morphed into an odd hybrid that seems to exist outside the justice system, even as its power grows in ways that we can’t see.”  

 

It is at this point that the NYT editorial falls short. Since the U.S. government’s surveillance court was operating in such secrecy, how is it the paper knows enough to denounce it? The answer to this is that someone (in this case Mr. Snowden) leaked the information on which the NYT now relies. Indeed, in the case of such secret government operations it is always a “leaker” who performs the public service of shedding light on dubious and often dangerous official behavior. 

 

Yet the NYT, has not come to Snowden’s defense. It has not noted his actions as praiseworthy or campaigned against the persecution he now suffers at the hands of the administration’s Justice Department. By not doing so, the newspaper improperly separates this story from the story teller, and while it informs us of the high importance of the former, it leaves the latter to his fate. What does this tell us about the NYT’s editorial board? Perhaps that they lack the moral courage to defend their own sources, to defend, in this case, a man who has done more to uphold American civil liberties than anyone since Martin Luther King.   

 

Part II – Edward Snowden: The Threat Is to Civil Liberties

 

The man who brought us the story of the NSA and its pseudo-court of justification says he has had no second thoughts about telling the tale. On 12 July 2013 Edward Snowden met with a number of human rights organizations at his temporary refuge in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. Here are a few of the points he made:

 

— Through his working connection to the National Security Agency, Snowden found that he “had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.”

 

— Snowden also concluded that the daily use of this capacity by the NSA was a “serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance.”

 

— “My government [U.S.] argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. . . .The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.”

 

— Appalled by this situation, Snowden took to heart the 1945 Nuremberg principle that says, “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”

 

— Having concluded that the NSA’s real and potential secret access to the communications of almost every American, and a growing number of non-citizens, was criminal in nature (perhaps totalitarianism in the making), he leaked the classified information that would bring the NSA’s activities into public view. “That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.”

 

Part III – The Government: The Threat Is to Classified Information

 

The U.S. government, which has pursued Snowden as a traitor and criminal, did not take well to these public statements. The White House accused Russia of providing Snowden with a “propaganda platform,” and it is reported that President Obama got on the telephone with Vladimir Putin to express his displeasure.

 

No attempt has been made by U.S. officials to publicly engage the issues raised by Snowden’s revelations. President Obama has followed his by now usual path of using positive words (I welcome a debate on secrecy) and then pursuing policies that blatantly contradict them (making Snowden’s life miserable and threatening reprisals against any country that helps him).  

 

It is the U.S. government that is telling other countries to “follow the rule of law” (that is, U.S. law) and help capture Snowden. He illegally divulged classified information and that is all there is to it. End of discussion. The fact that the NSA and other U.S. “intelligence” agencies may be acting beyond the law, both domestic and international, is apparently not open for discussion. The fact that it was President Obama who refused to prosecute blatant criminal behavior during the Bush Jr. administration seems all but forgotten. His decisions to go after Snowden, to show no mercy to Bradley Manning, and to use U.S. influence to isolate Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London say that this president is perfectly willing to use double standards. There will apparently be no debate on this fact either.  

 

In the face of actions of men like Edward Snowden, the Obama administration has sought to crack down on potential “leakers” throughout the government.  As part of an effort titled the Insider Threat Program, the majority of federal agencies, not just ones dealing with classified material, have been instructed to watch out for potential “leakers.” Classes are being conducted to instruct many federal workers in the telltale signs allegedly given by people who might divulge information. This has the potential to set off a witch hunt, and so we can ask, how many careers will be ruined through the misuse of this program?  

 

Part IV – Conclusion

 

As Edward Snowden had hoped, his revelations have raised public awareness of the massive gathering of information by the government. However, it is unclear whether this heightened awareness translates into significant public disapproval of this activity. There have been various polls taken and they are not consistent. For instance, a recent poll (10 July 2013) conducted by Quinnipiac University reports that by a margin of 45% to 40% Americans believe “the government’s antiterrorism efforts go too far, restricting civil liberties.” It also reports that 55% characterize Snowden as a “whistleblower” and not as a “traitor.” On the other hand, a June 2013 Washington Post – Pew Research Center poll says  56% of Americans consider the NSA accessing of telephone records of millions of Americans through secret court orders ‘acceptable’ while 41% call the practice ‘unacceptable.’” 

 

Such divisions of opinion are unlikely to inspire Congress or the Obama administration to change the situation. The numbers suggest that Americans, including progressives and liberals, do not really feel threatened by the massive spying, even if some of them find it problematic. Many suppose it is only the “subversive types” who have something to fear. They do not understand how easy it is for the bureaucrats to expand categories of “suspect” behaviors. 

 

It also should be noted that, as described by the New York Times, the prospective national debate is far too limited in scope. As it is evolving it concentrates solely on the intelligence-gathering activities of the government in its efforts to forestall terrorism. No one is discussing whether there are other strategies available in the “war on terror” that might make massive spying unnecessary. There are such alternatives. 

 

As I have suggested in other recent analyses, terrorism is largely stimulated by U.S. foreign policies in regions such as the Middle East. Those policies, in turn, are largely the products of the inordinate influence of economic and ideological lobbies. Change foreign policy and you can substantially reduce the risk of terrorist attack. In doing so you eliminate the alleged need for massive government spying. So, are you concerned about the erosion of civil liberties by a government that feels compelled to spy on you so as to make you safe? If so, why not have a national debate about the nature of our foreign policies and the influences behind them?

Egypt’s All-Or-Nothing Politics — An Analysis (6 July 2013) by Lawrence Davidson

 

 

Part I – The Heritage of Westernization

 

The cultural situation in much of the Middle East resembles a volcanic landscape. On the surface there is a layer of Westernization. Within the confines of this layer dwell that portion of the population that has, in terms of lifestyle, come to favor Western ways. This is not an unexpected phenomenon. After all, imperial European powers controlled much of North Africa from the early nineteenth century onward as well as most of the rest of the region after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century. Members of the region’s upper classes, both economic and military, long interacted with and often mimicked European colonials. Though there have always been differences in the details (for instance, some are more democratically minded than others), the resulting Westernized layer has always been largely secular. Those among them who may be of a religious bent are moderates and have no problem with a separation of state and religion. Though it varies with the country, those belonging to this layer make up perhaps 25% of the population. 

 

Beneath this surface layer is the majority population – a deep pool of magma – which is much more religious and much more tied to Islamic traditions and values. This does not mean the majority is always united in outlook. Some strongly desire an Islamic state while others do not see this as a necessary goal. There are other sources of division as well. Nonetheless, as in the case of volcanoes, the magma exerts fluctuating political and social pressure on the surface layer. To indefinitely keep it from erupting forth is probably an impossible task.  

 

In Egypt, since the mid-1950s, the task of keeping the magma from erupting was accomplished by a series of military regimes. The officer corps of the Egyptian military tends to be secular and thus belongs to society’s surface layer. The same can be said for those who run the Egyptian police. In both cases they see the religious elements of their society as ideologically backward and competitors for power. Thus, upon attaining control, such military regimes, be they those of the famous Gamal Abdel Nasser or the infamous Hosni Mubarak, worried about the revolutionary potential of the more traditional majority. They sought to control it by either co-opting or suppressing any potential leadership cadres coming out of this population. For instance, they control most of the mosque imams by making them employees of (and thus financially dependent upon) the state. Also, they would regularly arrest and imprison the leadership elements they could not buy off. This was often the fate of those who led the Society of Muslim Brothers. 

 

Part II – The Magma’s Moment

 

This pattern seemed to have been broken by the events that brought down the military regime of Hosni Mubarak. The mass demonstrations of 2011 initially convinced the military elite that Mubarak needed to be replaced and then, with the continuance of popular demonstrations, that acquiescence in a process of democratization would be necessary as long as the military maintained its organizational and economic privileges. During this revolutionary period other groups within the Westernized surface layer proved more naive. The various elements of the youth movement that initiated the anti-Mubarak demonstrations convinced themselves that their bravery and sacrifice gave them the right to define the political outcome of the revolution, i.e. a liberal democracy. Yet, while the youth movements represented hundreds of thousands, they were not the majority. What they did not foresee was that the revolution they felt to be their own would open a way for the magma, the traditional majority, to flow to the surface and, under the aegis of a democratic process, achieve power. 

 

The result was the victory of Islamist Mohammed Morsi, who became the first democratically elected president of Egypt. He accomplished this historic feat in June of 2012 when he won 51.7% of the vote in a free and fair election. What followed, depending upon which element of society one belonged to, was elation, shock, or fear and, for some, there was a stubborn refusal to accept the results. This led to a series of political mistakes all around that undermined Egypt’s democratic experiment. 

 

Part III – Mistakes of the Winners

 

The elation felt by Mohammed Morsi and his supporters, particularly the vast number of Egyptians formally or informally associated with the Society of Muslim Brothers, was easy to anticipate. For decades the Islamists of Egypt had been persecuted. Their leaders had been jailed for long periods, sometimes tortured, sometimes executed. When Morsi won the presidential election, millions of Egyptian Muslims –  traditionalists, fundamentalists, and just the ordinary pious people – must have felt that this was their God-given moment. This elation was probably behind the newly elected leadership’s precipitous writing of a constitution that reflected the religious inclinations of the majority. Morsi and his supporters assumed that their election win was a mandate to carry through their own vision for Egypt, that is, an Islamic-oriented state.  They moved too far, too fast, and did not offer sufficient protections for either religious or secular minorities. In doing so they caused the losers of the election to panic at the prospect of Islamist rule.  

 

Thus, there was quick and vehement resistance to the new government, initially coming from the Egyptian courts. The array of secular forces that had lost the election appealed to the courts to put aside just about everything the new government did. And the Egyptian courts, still populated with Mubarak-era appointees, proved quite willing to reverse the democratic process.  

 

President Morsi then overreacted to this resistance. He declared himself beyond the authority of the Egyptian courts, and for a short time, he attempted to assume dictatorial powers. He soon backed away from this position and, as antigovernment demonstrations organized by Tamaroud, a group associated with the Egypt’s secular youth movements, grew ever larger, he showed a belated willingness to compromise. Morsi accepted the need to negotiate a government of national unity and accelerated elections for a new parliament. However, it was too late. 

 

Increasingly, Morsi was in a no-win situation. For instance, Tamaroud repeatedly blamed Morsi and his government for the country’s rising level of crime. However, Morsi had not been able to gain control over the country’s police establishment, which, like the courts, remained in the hands of Mubarak-era functionaries. He was blamed for the poor state of the Egyptian economy. Morsi was in office for about a year and never had effective control of an economy that has been derelict for decades. He was even accused of increasing the influence of the United States in Egypt. These accusations made little sense and were probably propaganda moves made in an effort to destroy the new government altogether. The secular minority seemed to be taking a position that the traditionalist/religious majority would not be allowed to rule, even within the context of democratic structures.  

 

Part IV – Mistakes of the Losers 

 

The primary mistake of the those who lost the election in June 2012 was to abandon the democratic process. What was needed were guarantees from the new government that there would be a regular election cycle, that those elections would be as free and fair as the one Morsi’s opponents had just lost, and that whatever constitution was produced under Morsi’s government would be amendable through a reasonable process. These were achievable goals, particularly once Morsi understood the opposition he faced.  

 

However, the opponents of the elected government proved averse to compromise. They often boycotted negotiations with the government. Instead they opted for scrapping the entire election. In doing so, those who made up organizations like Tamaroud and Mohammed ElBaradei’s National Salvation Front, appeared to be saying that their own (primarily secular) vision of Egypt was the only legitimate vision. Unfortunately, this outlook eventually led them into a de facto alliance with the military to bring down Egypt’s first democratically elected government.  

 

 

Part V – Who Now Rules?     

 

Those who opposed Morsi may soon rue the day they refused to negotiate with him.  Why so?  Listen to the explanation given by Jonathan Steele in the Guardian:

 

Much has rightly been made of the threat to Egyptian democracy that comes from the so-called deep state: the still entrenched bureaucracy made up of officials of Mubarak’s National Democratic party, elitist entrepreneurs who were his cronies, and an army hierarchy that exploited state assets. . . . Some  accused Morsi of joining the ranks of this authoritarian elite. But the real charge was that he did too little to challenge them or their foot soldiers, a corrupt and brutal police force.   

 

Thus, if those who celebrated Mohammed Morsi’s removal believe that the Egyptian military and its “deep state” accomplices share their democratic vision for a better Egypt they are doomed to disappointment. These elements care nothing for the political and civil rights of the Egyptian people. Within hours of the military coup troops were shooting pro-Morsi demonstrators and closing down news outlets. 

 

It is not the social conservatism of Egypt’s majority that is, again using Steele’s words, “the biggest and most immediate danger to the country and the political rights that all Egyptians won with the overthrow of Mubarak.” But rather, as Steele warns, it is the military, the police, and other entrenched reactionary forces which are the greatest threat. 

 

Having created the conditions for the military to reenter the political arena, the secular parties may now find it beyond their power to push them out a second time. So what are the probable consequences? It looks as if Egyptians face two overlapping possibilities: renewed military dictatorship and/or civil war. They are not the only possibilities, just the most likely.