In a New York Times interview published on
September 23, 2012, the new president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, makes his demand
for a change in U.S. foreign policy if Egypt is to have a friendly relationship
with the U.S. He states that the U.S. would have to give up "supporting
Israel over the Palestinians."
in effect, was echoing the position of people in the Arab world: the U.S. must
end its close relationship with Israel to have peace with them, a relationship
which every president since Harry Truman supported.
When the U.S.
became the mediator between the State of Israel and the PLO, created by Yasser
Arafat, the Palestinians recognized the existence of that special relationship.
Notwithstanding its existence, they readily agreed to have the U.S. chair the
negotiations. They and the Arab states knew that only the U.S. could get Israel
to make concessions affecting its security when it was facing hostile Arab
populations and Arab and Iranian armed forces vastly larger than its own that
are at war with Israel. At the time the PLO had clauses in its Charter calling
for the total destruction of the State of Israel.
clauses were ultimately revoked by the PLO and Yasser Arafat, but they remain
today in the Charter of Hamas which governs Gaza. The latter has been
designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union, the
United Nations and Russia. It hopes one day to defeat the Fatah Party and its
leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Abbas) in a general election to be held in both Gaza
and the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority knows that only with the
assistance of the U.S. would it be possible to achieve a final accord with
Israel, because no other nation could induce Israel to accept an independent
Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza threatening its very existence.
Only the U.S. could provide the security assurances Israel needs to take the
chance of allowing a Palestinian state to be created. Hamas defeated Fatah in
an election in Gaza and then expelled Fatah from Gaza, leaving itself in sole
control of Gaza.
In its position
of mediator, the U.S. has demanded that Hamas revoke its Charter demanding the
elimination of Israel, give up violence, and accept all agreements previously
entered into by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It refuses to do so.
Morsi has his way, the U.S. would no longer be Israel's ally. If the
Palestinian Authority were asked would it prefer the U.S. to abandon its
efforts to establish peace and a final accord between the parties or continue
to assist the parties as mediator while maintaining its alliance with Israel, I
have no doubt that it would opt for the latter.
In the September
23rd New York Times interview, President Morsi said:
want to judge the performance of the Egyptian people by the standards of German
or Chinese or American culture, then there is no room for judgment. When the
Egyptians decide something, probably it is not appropriate for the U.S. When
the Americans decide something, this, of course, is not appropriate for
He and other
Islamists, who believe in the use of terrorism to achieve their goals, demand
that western civilization accept the Muslim philosophy that blasphemy, e.g.,
defaming the Prophet Muhammad, allows for deaths not only of Muslims but of
others in western countries as well.
When the Danish
newspaper Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten created cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad
in September 2005, it caused violent demonstrations in the Muslim world, ending
in 100 deaths and the bombing and burning of Danish embassies in some Muslim
countries. Then there was the Fatwah or death warrant demanding the death of
Salman Rushdie who wrote a book deemed by Muslim clergy to be blasphemous. More
recently a Christian girl in Pakistan, whose job it is to sweep trash, was
found with a burned Koran. She has been charged with blasphemy. Many more situations
exist where Muslim mobs rioted and in some cases killed to punish blasphemy,
including episodes involving American soldiers in Afghanistan.
countries have the right to impose their laws and mores upon their own
citizens, they do not have the right to impose them on others. We in the U.S.
and other western countries treasure the right of free speech. Our relationship
with Egypt has clearly changed. As President Obama has said, it is no longer an
ally. Our relationship henceforth should depend on what they do with each
passing day as it relates to the interests of the U.S. Any financial support we
give them should be conditioned upon their actions.
In his first
foray into foreign affairs, President Obama delivered a speech in Cairo in June
2009 in which he sought a new beginning with the Arab world, "based on
mutual interest and mutual respect." The recent events in Egypt, including
the election of an Islamist president, a leader of the Muslim brotherhood, and
the sacking of the American embassy in Cairo, etc., have demonstrated the
futility of his approach. President Obama should acknowledge this failure.
For the U.S. the
concept of free speech covers the rude, crude, false and the blasphemous. Our
response to that which offends us is to criticize but not to prohibit or seek
by violence to deter.
We will not
surrender our most precious and fundamental right to those Islamists and others
opposed to those democratic liberties who threaten us with violence and death
if we don't surrender.
It is the view
of many that the Islamists in the Muslim world who rioted, alleging as the
reason the video made by an American provocateur which blasphemed Muhammad,
were simply using the video as a pretext. Their intention was to celebrate the
catastrophe of 9/11 by other acts of terrorism on the anniversary date of the
original infamous act.
I believe the
hostility of Egypt's president and government toward the U.S. is also the
result of a decision by Egypt to recapture from Turkey the leadership of the
Muslim world which it once enjoyed and was usurped by Turkey when it became
Islamist and aggressively hostile to Israel.
Will we have the
resolve to stand up and protect the lifestyles and mores of western
civilization now under attack by the Islamists in a war that can and will
probably last for decades or will we ultimately surrender? I believe we will
fight for our freedoms as we did in World War II and once again prevail.
The Honorable Edward
Irving Koch served as a member of Congress from New York State from 1969
through 1977, and New York City as its 105thMayor from 1978 to 1989.