July 18, 2001 No.

Arab Responses to Senator McConnell's Washington Post Article Regarding American Aid to Egypt

Most of the Egyptian government press has so far ignored Senator Mitch McConnell's July 2nd Washington Post article, 'No Free Lunch for Egypt,' in which he criticized US aid to Egypt.[1] The only government paper that mentioned the article was Akhbar Al-Yaum which reviewed Senator McConnell's main arguments. A wider response to Senator McConnell's article was given by Al-Hayat's former editor and present columnist, Jihad Al-Khazen, who focused on it two days in a row. Following are excerpts from the two articles:[2]

Akhbar Al-Yaum [Egypt] Responds to Senator McConnell's Article:
"Does [Senator McConnell] think that he can scare us by talking about American aid and threaten us by reassessing it? This is an old game others have tried to no avail. Moreover, it is a game that blows up in the face of the one that deals with it, no matter what his affinity to the White House is."

"Egypt, in President Mubarak's era is not afraid of such threats. She knows the path she chose; the path of peace and stability for the Middle East. Let the American senator know that the only impediment to peace and stability is Israel and the right wing extremists in its government, who chose the path of executions, demolition of houses, burning of fields, siege and starvation."

"As for the Egyptian press [let him know that] it publishes what it sees fit facing the crimes that Israel is committing day after day against the Arabs and the Palestinians. It suffices to see that the Chief Rabbi of Israel cursed the Arabs, wished for their annihilation, described them as pigs, and after all of this, you come Mr. McConnell, and blame us for antisemitism, turning a blind eye to what Israel does in the occupied territories."

"Wake up Senator McConnell and say words of truth instead of all those lies you wrote in your article. It is a shame that a senator like you writes such things, the sole purpose of which is to satisfy Israel and her friends in America. People like you, Senator, mislead American public opinion with your lies regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict."

"If you and your pro-Israeli colleagues were to say one word of truth regarding this bloody conflict that continues for fifty-three years now on our lands, every American would have demanded to cut off aid to Israel, not to Egypt who sacrificed so much for the sake of peace."

Jihad Al-Khazen [Al-Hayat] Responds to Senator McConnell's Article:[3]
"About a week ago, I gathered material for a column about the new American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or to be more precise, the lack of a clear policy by the new Republican administration. I realized that I kept returning again and again to a Washington Post article, written by Senator Mitch McConnell, titled 'No free Lunch for Egypt.'"

"I do not know whether the Senator wrote this article himself or if it was written by his aids, but I do know that even the pro-Israeli Washington Institute for Near East Policy could not have competed with Senator McConnell in turning the facts upside down..."

"I assume that he wrote this article out of conviction; [but] this conviction, which derives from looking at the Middle East with only one eye, that of Israel, is the reason for the collapse of the American influence in the Middle East, as was apparent from an article by the Washington Post itself, only four days after it had published Senator McConnell's ideas..."

"Senator McConnell begins with the constant claim that American foreign aid 'should never be taken for granted as an entitlement by the receiving party.' Then, he claims he was struck by the scale of American aid to Egypt since the signing of the Camp David Agreement..."

"[Senator McConnell's] data is half accurate. He does not mention that during the same period, the US has provided $100 billion to Israel, which may have received a similar [additional] sum in indirect aid, contributions by American Jews, selling bonds, and so on."

"I do not want to split hairs... but one should remember that the size of the Egyptian population is twelve times that of Israel and therefore, the direct foreign American aid to Israel is twenty-four times larger than that to Egypt."

"Furthermore, I insist that the numbers that were mentioned [by Senator McConnell] were wrong and that the US has not provided any aid to Egypt since the Camp David agreement, but rather, provided defense to Israel. My claim is that the US has provided $3 billion every year to Israel and $2.1 billion to Egypt. [But] in fact, the US has provided $5.1 billion to take Egypt out of the confrontation line with Israel, i.e. for Israel's defense, rather than as assistance to the Egyptian people."

"'Today a guerilla war against Israel is being waged, with scores of Israelis and Palestinians being killed and injured...' writes Senator McConnell. Once again, Senator McConnell sees things with his Israeli eye. He does not say that Israel wages a parallel war against Palestinian civilians, he does not write that the Israeli Prime Minister is an accused war criminal that should precede any other war criminal to the accused cage in the Hague."

"Senator McConnell criticizes the trial and arrest of Dr. Saad Al-Din Ibrahim. I preceded him in presenting [a similar] opinion in this column."

"The third point is no less exaggerated. Senator McConnell opposes Egypt's cooperation with North Korea in missile technology exchange and claims there are three-hundred North Korean experts in Egypt."

"I say that the US created the Israeli beast and unleashed it against us, and then, it does not want Egypt or any other country, to defend itself. The US allows Israel to open an office in the Pentagon and it provides Israel with its newest military technology, even after it was recognized that Israel possesses a nuclear arsenal. And then, the Senator complains, [why] is Egypt trying to defend itself? Furthermore, I return to the basic idea of foreign aid. What does Egypt need American military aid for, if not for Israel being in its vicinity? Will Egypt fight Libya or the Sudan? Or maybe Cyprus?..."

"This kind of idea caused the US to be hated and despised in Arab countries, after having been in the past a model for democracy, humanity and justice. Today, it cannot find a free lunch in any Arab country, and especially not in Egypt, which forms half of the nation and the gate for the other half..."

"...Senator McConnell complains that the Egyptian government press attacks the US and Israel, instead of supporting peace with Israel. He focuses on a cartoon in one newspaper depicting Uncle Sam passing bags of US dollars to a bearded Jew, who in his turn launches missiles at the Arabs [meaning the Palestinians]. What's wrong with this cartoon? It is a hundred percent true. The US supplies weapons and money to Israel that kill the Palestinians on a daily basis."

"The Senator criticizes a cartoon in another newspaper depicting Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, as Hitler, standing on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem with his hands dripping blood. Once again the cartoon, an exaggerated and distorted [version of] the reality, is true. The Mitchell report stated that the Al-Aqsa Intifada began due to the violence of the Israeli security forces against the demonstrators who protested the defilement of Al-Haram Al-Sharif by the blood-letter Sharon. Barak was the head of the government that instructed the army to open fire against the demonstrators and the blood on his hands symbolizes his responsibility for it."

"I object to depicting Barak as Hitler. There is no dispute that the Jews are the victims of the Nazis. But I object also to Senator McConnell's use as an example of the antisemitic remarks of an Egyptian columnist who supported Hitler for killing the Jews. The reason for my objection is that this journalist represents only himself, and I unconditionally denounce his words."

"But I also denounce the fact that the Senator used him as an example, while ignoring the words of the contemptible Rabbi Ovadya Yossef, that are the peak of Nazi racism, sadism, and disgrace. He controls the third largest political party in the Knesset. [Senator McConnell also ignored] the words of ministers in the government of the blood-letter, Sharon, such as Avigdor Liberman and Rehavam Zeevi. These have a heavy political and social weight, in comparison to the 'weightlessness' of this Egyptian columnist."

"Senator McConnell claims that President Mubarak panders to antisemitic groups for domestic political purposes who have weakened his standing at the negotiating table."

"I say: ...President Mubarak is an Aswan Dam blocking all forms of fundamentalism, including antisemitism. Had he chosen cheap popularity, he could have turned the negotiating table on the heads of those sitting around it, including the US and Israel..."

"Egypt is not a Scandinavian democracy, no doubt. However, it has a reasonable measure of democracy. But I ask the Senator: Do you really want a democracy in each Arab country? All the Arab governments, including the Egyptian, and all the Arab leaders, including President Mubarak, are more moderate than the Arab public. Had the Arab states turned fully democratic, they would have begun preparing for another war against Israel. This is what the majority of Arabs want."

"Senator McConnell repeats what is, so far, the greatest lie of the current century when he says the Palestinians rejected last year the best proposal they could have received. The truth is that any proposal that does not include sovereignty over Al-Haram Al-Qudsi [Temple Mount and Muslim Sanctuary] is not generous but rather, humiliating to one billion Arabs and Muslims. The truth is that there is an occupied land and the only solution is to withdraw from it, without demanding reward for the occupation, with the encouragement of the US."

"Senator McConnell concludes, as he began, with threats to Egypt. He says he wants to re-examine American aid to Egypt. He talks of loyalty that should be matched with loyalty, meaning that an Egyptian loyalty to the American policy will be matched with an American loyalty to continuing the aid."

"Egypt receives the aid from a position of strength and not of weakness. If Egypt closes the gate for the American Middle East policy, this policy will have no opening to either enter or get out. Senator McConnell had better take off the Israeli cover from his second eye, see the whole picture, and serve his country like a senator should."

[1] Washington Post, July 2, 2001.

[2] Akhbar Al-Yaum (Egypt), July 7, 2001.

[3] Al-Hayat (London-Beirut), July 9,10, 2001.