Jewish Journal


May 23, 2012

by Shmuel Rosner

May 23, 2012 | 1:33 am

An Egyptian worker in Cairo checks boxes containing ballots, a day before the presidential election. (Photo: Reuters)

Why Egypt’s presidential election matters

The Associated Press looks at some of the future implications of the Egyptian ‎presidential elections.‎

Many of the candidates in the race have called for amendments in Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty ‎with Israel, which remains deeply unpopular. None is likely to dump it, but a victory by any of ‎the Islamist or leftist candidates in the race could mean strained ties with Israel and a ‎stronger stance in support of the Palestinians in the peace process. Shafiq and Moussa, and ‎ironically the Brotherhood, are most likely to maintain the alliance with Washington.‎

Egyptians choose a leader – and for ‎once their votes will count

Ian Black of the Guardian reports from Egypt as the polls open, and hears from ‎Egyptians who are truly voting for a president for the first time in their lives. ‎

Revolutionaries acknowledge frustration at the length and limitations of the transition ‎while speaking of a new sense of dignity and pride. “Under Mubarak we felt ‎unimportant,” mused a software engineer and [Hamdeen] Sabahy supporter, Yahya ‎Ahmad. “Now we feel that we matter.” Some want to boycott the election on the grounds ‎that there can be no free choice under military rule. Others are clear-eyed but optimistic. ‎‎“It’s a moment when you believe that we are turning a page,” said the human rights ‎activist Gassar Abdel-Razek.‎

Egypt’s Election: “We’ve Never Been Here Before”‎

Writing for Middle East Online, James Zogby speculates as to who will emerge victorious in ‎an election in which there is no clear frontrunner.

‎[There is] a Salafi/liberal alliance supporting the candidacy of a moderate former Muslim ‎Brotherhood leader, Abdul Moneim Aboul Fatouh who has since been denounced by the ‎Brotherhood. The Brotherhood’s own candidate has so far fared poorly in the polls, since ‎even some in his own party are concerned lest their group be seen as wanting too much ‎power too soon. Secularists and liberals have at least three candidates in the running. Far ‎and away the leader of this group appears to be the charismatic Amr Moussa. Also scoring ‎fairly well in various polls are former Prime Minister-for-a-month Ahmad Shafiq and leader of ‎the Kefaya movement, Hamdeen Sabahi. ‎

Egypt Election 2012: Facts and Figures for ‎Presidential Vote

As Egyptians go to the polls to vote for a new president, Digby Lidstone of Bloomberg presents a ‎breakdown of who is running and what the electorate really cares about. ‎

Security and the economy are the main issues dominating the political ‎debate. The unrest of the past year has crippled tourism and foreign ‎investment, two of the country’s main sources of revenue, while the ‎country has endured the worst economic slowdown in a least a decade. ‎International reserves have been reduced by more than a half. While Egypt ‎is seeking a $3.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund as part ‎of efforts to boost growth, talks with the fund have yet to conclude amid ‎wrangling between the government and parliament.‎

Egypt elections: The challenge of ‎appealing to women

John Leyne of the BBC takes a look at how some of Egypt’s presidential candidates ‎have tried to woo women voters.‎

In the last week of campaigning, the moderate Islamist candidate Abdul ‎Moneim Aboul Fotouh held a special rally for women, as he attempted to ‎woo the women’s vote. Hundreds of women packed the audience, while on ‎the stage, during a series of speeches and round tables by women, the ‎only man to appear was the candidate himself. Abdul Moneim Aboul ‎Fotouh is also unique in having a political adviser who is a woman. Rabab ‎al-Mahdi is a liberal, a politics professor, who does not wear a headscarf.‎

Negotiations with Iran: What ‎Has Changed?‎

Justin Logan of the National Interest explores whether the imminent talks in Baghdad ‎on Iran’s nuclear program can really yield any new breakthroughs.‎

The United States is still threatening to bomb Iran in order to prevent it ‎from developing a nuclear deterrent. Israeli prime minister Benjamin ‎Netanyahu continues to define “success” in a way such that it cannot ‎realistically be achieved and to warn that anything less than total Iranian ‎capitulation is failure. Like-minded U.S. legislators, such as Senator Lindsey ‎Graham (R-SC), agree that the only acceptable Iranian move is immediate ‎surrender. And high-ranking Iranian military officials are declaring that Iran ‎is “standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel.”‎

Iranians Taking Solace in the ‎Past

The young generation of Iranians is hankering for a pre-revolutionary era that it ‎never knew, writes Camelia Entekhabifard in the New York Times. ‎

Today, life in the Islamic Republic is more difficult than it has been since the ‎eight-year war with Iraq. International economic sanctions, the harshest since ‎the 1979 revolution, have squeezed the struggling middle class even further. ‎Ordinary Iranians live in constant fear that Israel — one of Tehran’s strongest ‎political allies before 1979 — may soon decide to bomb them. So many of the ‎country’s best and brightest students have left Iran to study abroad, and are ‎certainly not willing to come back.‎

When Rabbis Start Educating the ‎Soldiers

Even as the Israeli government moves toward drafting ultra-Orthodox men, some ‎IDF officers are increasingly concerned about the growing influence of the Military ‎Rabbinate, writes J.J. Rosenberg in the Forward.‎

Education Corps officers have complained to their superiors several times in recent ‎years about rabbinic encroachment, but to little avail, the report says. Atop the ‎command chain, the army’s deputy chief of staff and chief of personnel have ‎studiously avoided taking sides. Whether because they dismiss the dispute as a ‎petty turf battle or because they’re reluctant to confront the Orthodox lobby, ‎they’ve ordered the squabbling units to work things out by themselves. After one ‎blowup in 2009, a general appointed to mediate reported back that sides were ‎divided by deep “ideological” differences that could only be resolved at the General ‎Staff level. The senior command, however, has yet to address the issue, the ‎comptroller reported.

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