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In Morsi's death, Israel proves it prefers a non-democratic Middle East

Israel is not interested in democracy as a value. On the contrary — it has a great deal of interest in making sure it keeps bearing the title of ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.’ 

A supporter of Egypt's ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, holds a poster of him with Arabic writing reading "The people support the president," Cairo, Egypt, on July 06, 2013. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

A supporter of Egypt’s ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, holds a poster of him with Arabic writing reading “The people support the president,” Cairo, Egypt, on July 06, 2013. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

While many Palestinians were perturbed by the death of Egypt’s former president, Mohamed Morsi, and Knesset members of four of the Arab parties called for an investigation of the circumstances of his death, official Israel ignored Morsi’s death almost entirely. The only thing that Israel was interested in, in that regard, is the question of whether the government in Cairo can “handle the challenge,” meaning, whether it can succeed in suppressing the storm that might erupt in Egypt following his death, which still has many questions hovering over it.

As an entity that constantly speaks of democracy and insists on calling itself the only democracy in a Middle East otherwise held hostage by tyrannical and brutal rulers, one would have expected some official response from Israel on the death of the Egyptian president who was elected in the country’s first democratic elections ever.

True, the election results that brought Morsi into power in 2012 were not to Israel’s liking (even though Morsi clarified immediately that he did not intend to cancel Egypt’s peace agreement with Israel, and was committed to it more than Netanyahu ever was to diplomatic agreements Israel had previously signed). But leaders who were democratically elected by their people don’t have to be liked by their peers, because the nature of the rule is supposed to outweigh the ruling personality. In other words, the question is whether Israel is interested in a democratic Middle East, or in tyrannically rulers it can “do business with.” This is a rhetorical question, of course — one which Israel hasn’t really deliberated on.

One doesn’t have to go as far as Egypt to assess the depth of Israel’s “commitment” to the idea of democracy when it comes to its neighbors. It’s enough to recall its reaction to the election results of the Majles al-Tashri’i — the Palestinian parliament — in 2006. Israel likes to harp on the “Hamas took over Gaza” mantra, but Hamas did not take over the strip; it won democratic elections. This, however, doesn’t prevent Israel from barbarically punishing Hamas and the people who voted them in over a decade ago.

Myanmar military representatives at the ISDEF 2019 expo in Tel Aviv on June 4, 2019. (Oren Ziv)

Myanmar military representatives at the ISDEF 2019 expo in Tel Aviv on June 4, 2019. (Oren Ziv)

There’s quite a bit of irony in the fact that Israel itself contributed to Hamas’ victory; a year earlier, in 2005, the Palestinians chose the most moderate president they could have, and Israel carried out its unilateral disengagement from Gaza half a year later anyway, in a defiant lack of coordination with the Palestinian Authority. Israel made sure that Abu Mazen would not be able to take even a little bit of credit for Israel’s retreat from Gaza. It emphasized to Palestinians that, no matter if extremist of moderate, it has no interest in cooperating with their elected leadership.

Then, when Palestinians cast their ballots for the Legislative Council a year later, they had even less reasons to vote for Fatah, which was both corrupt and did not present any diplomatic achievements vis-à-vis Israel. These were some of the factors that Palestinian voters were considering on their way to the ballot box. Israel, however, is not interested in democracy as a value, but only in advancing its own aggressive interests, in whatever way it deems fit. Unfortunately, these interests, for the most part, tend to intersect with the interests of the worst and least democratic rulers in the region.

This policy has existed since the country’s founding, and its application is not limited to the Arab world. Human rights lawyer Eitay Mack recently published a report on Israel’s relations with Iran from the 50s to the eve of the 1979 revolution. The investigation, based on newly-released Foreign Ministry documents, shows how Israel was well aware of how the Shah oppressed the Iranian people, and how it decided to maintain close military and intelligence cooperation with him, nevertheless.

When the ground was trembling from underneath the Shah’s feet when millions of Iranians went out to protest for the future of their state, the director of the Middle East division at the Foreign Ministry, Yael Vered, wrote that the best option as far as Israel was concerned, was “extreme hardening by the military and the establishment of a military regime and a real military government.” The same military that Israel armed and trained, together with the SAVAK, the Shah’s notorious secrete police that brutally suppressed political opponents.



Israel will not shed any tears for Morsi’s death, just as it hadn’t regretted the end of Egypt’s short-lived democracy. The opposite is true — Israel has a great deal of interest in making sure it keeps bearing the title of “the only democracy in the Middle East,” a title it uses as a cover to promote any criminal policy, including an ongoing siege on Gaza and lethally firing at its residents if they dare rise against it. Israel will also not avoid dealing with the last of the anti-democratic rulers, from Sisi to any murderous tyrant, by exporting weapons which they then use to slaughter their own people. But while these criminals are oppressing their own populations, Israel, the only democracy in the galaxy, is oppressing a people is has been occupying for decades, who are even denied the privilege of electing their own corrupt leaders.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Firentis

      Oh I am sorry that we prefer dictators that wish to maintain peace with us over the crazed Islamists that want to destroy us. That the latter might get more votes is supposed to make us support them?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ray

        Dictators are fine with the Only Democracy in the Middle East (TM)… as long as they’re beating/jailing/torturing/killing OTHER people.

        Reply to Comment
        • Firentis

          The only democracy in the Middle East cares about its own citizens first and foremost. That is the way it should be in any proper country.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            There is part of a pattern, Firentis, in which you skirt the issues and dodge the question. One example among many. You thought you’d trot out a dodgy truism but I read it as a kind of mobster’s ethos out of “The Godfather.” As if I asked Trump why he assaults women (16 allegations at last public count), stiffs contractors who work for him, uses the presidency to enrich himself, and puts immigrants in concentration camps where children have died, and his predictable response was “I care about my own family first, that’s the way it should be in any family, what business is it of yours how I treat others? That’s the moral level your response is at.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            “Dodgy truism” huh.

            I would hate to live in your kingdom where the government doesn’t consider the well-being of its citizens as its primary goal.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            In my kingdom, presidents and prime ministers would not act like mob bosses. In fact, in your kingdom, Bibi’s Kingdom, it is well known by now that the King does NOT consider the well-being of his citizens as his primary goal, his primary goal is keeping himself above the rule of law and out of prison, through a combination of immunity and override bills he’s endlessly scheming to ram through, with help of eager henchmen, at the expense of everyone else.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            You indeed live in a magical kingdom. In the real world however the duty of the government is to put the people’s well-being and security first. Not the domestic affairs of other countries.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Your last two sentences are a truism, banal and beside the point.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Said

      You mean the Muslim Brotherhood is a democratic organization respecting the rights of religious minorities and women! Shocking discovery. Hassan El Banna and Sayed Quotb the most important founders of the Muslim Brotherhood were not John Lock or Jean Jacques Rousseau. In fact AlQaeda and Daesh build on their crystal clear undemocratic ideas. Did not it strike you that mainly Islamists lamented his demise and not real democrats? Kindly re-examine your headlines and ideas about the Muslim Brotherhood.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Bruce Gould

      I think this is relevant to the article:

      “War over Peace: One Hundred Years of Israel’s Militaristic Nationalism” by Uri Ben-Eliezer. From the Amazon review:

      Violence and war have raged between Zionists and Palestinians for over a century, ever since Zionists, trying to establish a nation-state in Palestine, were forced to confront the fact that the country was already populated. Covering every conflict in Israel’s history, War over Peace reveals that Israeli nationalism was born ethnic and militaristic and has embraced these characteristics to this day. In his sweeping and original synthesis, Uri Ben-Eliezer shows that this militaristic nationalism systematically drives Israel to find military solutions for its national problems, based on the idea that the homeland is sacred and the territory is indivisible. When Israelis opposed to this ideology brought about change during a period that led to the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, cultural and political forces, reinforced by religious and messianic elements, prevented the implementation of the agreements, which brought violence back in the form of new wars. War over Peace is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the role of ethnic nationalism and militarism in Israel as well as throughout the world.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Victor Friedlander

      The proven assassination of Saudi dissident, Jamal Khashoggi, and the putative assassination of the failed ex-ruler of Egypt, Morsi, leaves me cold. Both men were influential Islamic Brotherhood activists; the political aims and methods of which are not much different from those of The Saudi Wahhabists, the Taliban, and Hamas. None of these political organizations can be considered defenders of citizens civil rights, practitioners of non-violent political programs, or of advocacy of democratic governance.

      The fates of these two political figures are simply the consequences of a longstanding quarrel between Sharia Islamist movements. At very least these episodes did not cause the massive death tolls that accompanied the civil wars in Syria in which the Muslim Brotherhood played a significant part.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Lewis from Afula

      What happened to Morsi in Egyptian customy is Egypt’s problem.
      or does Israel somehow “control” the Egyptian jails and the Egyptian judiciary system too !
      It won’t surprise me if Comrade Ben will claim that we can do that like we “control” Gaza.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Malek al Kuffar

      Just being elected to office doesn’t make you a democrat. What makes you a democrat is the policies you pursue ponce in power. And Morsi’s policies were clearly directed at setting up a dictatorship. Right after taking power in August of 2012, Morsi focused on entrenching and expanding Muslim Brotherhood supremacy, most notably by issuing a series of orders on Nov. 22 that arrogated autocratic powers to himself and spreading Zionist conspiracy theories about his opponents. He then rammed through an Islamist-oriented constitution on Nov. 30 and called a snap referendum on it Dec. 15. Consumed with these two tasks, he virtually ignored the myriad issues afflicting Egypt, especially the looming economic crisis and the lack of funds to pay for imported food.

      Reply to Comment
    7. avi

      sorry Orly you were suspended from facebook.

      Reply to Comment