An illuminating event took place as the 1967 war between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq was winding down, and which has a direct bearing on current affairs between the State of Israel and her neighbors. The Egyptians knew they were losing the war rather early on, and yet as their army was bogged down on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, their government decided it was high time to issue a commemorative postage stamp in honor of their “great victory” over the State of Israel. That stamp is now considered a “collector’s item” of great worth after the Egyptian government withdrew it from circulation.
This complete disregard for the facts on the ground is the same behavior used today by Egyptian nationalists who appear to have learned nothing from either history or facts. Denying facts is a dangerous thing. It makes Egyptian and Jordanian news anchors and television show moderators punch each other in the face and throw water upon each other, live and in color. It leads Egyptian schoolchildren ignorant of their country’s role in losing five major wars to serious misconceptions as to the nature of war and why anyone starts one in the first place. While it is not possible to outdo the braggadocio of Gamel Abdul Nasser for sheer stupidity or surpass his serious problems with facts, it is possible to draw modern conclusions based on historical precedents that are not out of place today.
There are millions of Egyptians today that honestly believe that Israel lost several wars with Egypt and that their control of Sinai is proof positive of this “fact” after having received the spoils of war—never mind the fact that the return of Sinai was effectuated due to peace talks between the two adversaries. That rather inconvenient point seems to have slipped the minds of those millions of Egyptians. Whereas it is annoying for young Egyptians to enter Jewish- and Israeli-managed online chatrooms and claim victories over us that never occurred, it shows that even the truth of who-hit-whom first is lost on an entire generation of people. And it is not gullibility of those children who were educated in Muslim Brotherhood schools and madrasses which causes this denial of facts, per se, but rather; it is Islamic extremism which causes historical blindness which can and will lead to new wars in the future. Sadly, Egyptians do not feel the need to be part of a world dedicated to peace and prosperity for themselves and their neighbors any more than Gazans do, even after several rounds of hostilities. You can punch a bully in the nose a few times, but until the bully is down on the ground and out for the count, the punching will continue unabated.
Egypt and Jordan and Iraq have serious issues to address today, starting with natural resource management including severe drought that, when unchecked or not taken very seriously, leads to disturbances in the food chain and then civil unrest, which leads to unpredictable violence. The Syrian war on our doorstep created millions of refugees and a quarter-of-a-million unnecessary deaths, not to mention unleashing Islamic extremist groups on a Syrian population unwilling to live by their distorted and perverse view of Islam. Partly to blame for this disaster next door is Syrian, Jordanian and Egyptian refusal to admit we could help them from resource management to crop development to everything in-between. Even as Turkey deliberately dithered before allowing a few Kurdish peshmerga fighters into Kobani in Syria to defend the remaining Kurds there, we could have assisted the Kurds in protecting themselves. Unfortunately, even when there is cooperation between our neighbors, detractors claim we are the problem and not the solution because of their faulty perceptions of us. We can yell from the rooftops about having won wars against all our aggressor neighbors since 1948; and yet this will not erase the willful ignorance of facts. We are supposed to be a “light unto the nations,” but no one has yet figured out why living in denial and its subsequent darkness is such a better alternative.