Frontpage Interview's guest today is Khalim Massoud, the president of Muslims Against Sharia, an Islamic reform movement.
FP: Khalim Massoud, I would like to talk to you today about your group’s new project, the "Egyptian Gaza" initiative, which calls on Egypt to re-annex the Gaza Strip.
Tell us about this initiative. Why Egypt?
Massoud: Well, Egypt is the only way out.
The Gaza Strip became an entity after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. There have been many different points of view on the Gaza crisis or lack thereof leading up to the 2005 Israeli withdrawal. However, most observers would agree that Gazans have been living in a perpetual state of crisis for the last three and a half years, which worsened with the election of Hamas.
Hamas is a Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and its charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Hamas constantly conducts terrorist operations, mostly firing rockets into Southern Israel; Israel periodically bombs or invades Gaza to destroy terrorist infrastructure. Both Israeli and Gaza civilians are caught in the crossfire with Gaza casualties being much higher due to Israeli military superiority and Hamas' tactics of using civilians as 'human shields.'
The Gaza Strip is not self-sufficient; it has virtually no infrastructure. Most of the food and utilities are provided by Israel or the United Nations. Furthermore, the chaotic situation in Gaza is not conducive to building infrastructure and neither Israel not Egypt, the two countries that border Gaza, have any incentive for building that infrastructure. In other words, the Gaza Strip is an over-populated poverty-stricken decaying cesspool ruled by terrorist thugs.
The aforementioned facts lead us to believe that without outside interference, the situation in Gaza will further deteriorate and the crisis is likely to reach the magnitude of the one in Darfur.
The two-state solution advocated by the "Quartet" (United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia) may or may not be viable for the West Bank, but it is clearly not viable for the Gaza Strip. Israeli withdrawal in 2005 may or may not have been a mistake, but it doesn't matter now; Israel is unlikely to re-annex Gaza. That leaves only one choice - Egypt.
FP: Why would Egypt want to control the Gaza Strip considering all the problems that you have mentioned?
Massoud: Well, let's look at the pros and cons.
Politics. Con: The Gaza Strip is ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood branch, Hamas. The Muslim Brotherhood is the most dangerous threat to the current government in Egypt. By re-annexing Gaza, the Egyptian government would have to deal with the increased presence of Muslim Brotherhood.
Pro: By not being able to control Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Egypt would have a Muslim Brotherhood time bomb right on its border, which will eventually erupt and spill over to Egypt. It is much easier for Egyptian security forces to destroy Hamas, while it is a gang of thugs now, than to deal with it in the future if Hamas gains serious military capability.
Economics. Con: When two geographical entities merge into one, economies of the two equalize. The richer part (Egypt) becomes poorer and the poorer part (Gaza) becomes richer. Currently Egyptian per capita GDP is about twice as high as Gaza’s, and the unemployment rate is about five times lower.
Pro: The United Nations constantly dumps obscene amounts of money into the Gaza black hole. If this money is given instead to the Egyptian government to be used for reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, it will more than compensate for any economic detriment that Egypt could incur. In addition, Gaza has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world; if properly developed, it could become a world-class tourist destination and one of the most economically viable regions of Egypt.
Ethnic divisions. Con: Egypt is populated by Egyptians, while the Gaza Strip is populated by Palestinians.
Pro: The term "Palestinian" did not really exist until the 1960s. Non-Bedouin Arabs who live in Egypt and in Gaza are of the same ethnicity.
Given the aforementioned information, it is pretty clear that benefits of re-annexing the Gaza Strip far outweigh the detriments of this action.
FP: Why would Gazans be interested in this?
Massoud: The Gaza crisis is constantly in the news. Humanitarian crisis, economic crisis, no power, food shortages, etc., Who would want to live like that? Wouldn't the Gazans want to live in peace and relative stability afforded by Egypt side-by-side with their Egyptian brethren? If the answer is "no," maybe the crisis in Gaza is not as real as it is being portrayed. If the answer is "yes," re-annexation by Egypt would be a God-send for average Gazans.
FP: Well, the Palestinians have shown over and over again that they would prefer killing Jews and annihilating Israel than having their own state and stability and prosperity.
But let’s move on:
What does Israel have to gain?
Massoud: With this initiative, no longer will Palestinians or anyone else be able to use the excuse of -- or blame their problems on -- Israeli "occupation." And as long as Egypt's military keeps Gaza's residents in check, Israel will be free of the Gazan problem.
FP: So who would be opposed to this plan?
Massoud: We identified have four groups that would be strongly opposed to this plan.
- Hardcore Zionists who believe that Jews have a God-given right to all of the Palestine, including the Gaza Strip.
- Islamists who believe that Muslims have a God-given right to all of the Palestine, including Israel.
- Anti-Semites who use the Arab-Israeli conflict to fan the flames of Jew-hatred around the world.
- International bureaucrats and corrupt companies who have been living off the Palestinian crisis for the last six decades.
FP: Well, let’s be serious, the “hardcore Zionists” aren’t a very powerful lobby. If they were, Israel would have never left Gaza and Israel would never have offered the incredible peace offer it did at Camp David in 200.
The third group is obviously one of the most serious, threatening and influential ones.
Massoud: The third group is the most interesting. It includes Islamic regimes that use the Arab-Israeli conflict to deflect the anger of their own population. Internal problems caused by inept governance can be blamed on a convenient scapegoat - Israel. If they oppose this initiative, it would be clear that their support for the "Palestinian Cause" is nothing but empty words.
It also includes international media who have been paying disproportional attention to the Arab-Israeli conflict - i.e. the Darfur conflict receives a fraction of media coverage as compared with the Arab-Israeli conflict, while the Arab-Israeli conflict has a fraction of casualties as compared to the conflict in Darfur. The results of our poll indicate that the main reason for the disproportionate coverage is anti-Semitism.
We expect all of those groups to put political pressure on the United Nations and world governments, particularly the Israeli and Egyptian governments, to kill this initiative. "Egyptian Gaza" may not be a great solution, but it is by far the most practical solution for the ever-worsening situation in the Gaza Strip. And if someone truly cares about Gazans and supports Human Rights beyond mere rhetoric, they would stand behind this initiative. We encourage Frontpage readers to sign the following petition to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:
WHEREAS perpetual crisis in the Gaza Strip is the problem that neither Palestinian nor Israeli governments are able to resolve, and
WHEREAS two decades of Egyptian control was arguably the most peaceful period in recent Gaza history;
We call on the government of Egypt to annex the Gaza Strip and declare Egyptian rule over the area.
Furthermore, we call on the United Nations to pass a resolution accepting and allowing for the occurrence of this takeover by Egypt.
Up until this point, little has worked in regard to a peaceful settlement between Israel and Gaza. This problem, if not resolved, could only escalate tensions for the future. We feel that this is the best solution for what seems to be a never-ending bad situation.
Click here to sign petition.
FP: Khalim Massoud, thank you for joining us.