February 6, 2011 The Implications For Israel of Events in Egypt - History

February 6, 2011 The Implications For Israel of Events in Egypt - History

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

February 6, 2011 The Implications For Israel of Events in Egypt

We do not yet know how the events in Egypt will end. However, it is looking more and more like the end result will be a continuation of the regime dominated by the army, with additional trappings of democracy. I could be wrong, and things may still change, but without a clear leader its not clear to me how much more the protesters will achieve beyond getting Mubarak to leave office sooner or later. The long term trends are clear however, either now or later the Arab world will not remain the only major region of the world without democratic nations.

The implications for Israel, are clear, but totally contradictory. On one side, are all of those who said Israel cannot give up land for peace (since we can never know what will happen to the Arab regime in power). We already have proof of that danger with the rise of Hamas. Now with the fear the same thing might happen in Egypt, Israel cannot afford to give up real assets. As such, land for peace that may be passing stage.

The other side of the argument says the events in Egypt prove we cannot continue forever with a cold peace; a peace that exists between Israel and some of its neighbors regimes and not the people. The only way to turn the cold peace into one that is warmer, is to reach a final status agreement with the Palestinians, and now is the time to do it.  Unfortunately, they are both right. The ultimate answer comes down to whether you believe the Israel-Arab fight is ultimately a religious fight that can never be solved, or a nationalist fight that can be solved through compromise. I have always feared it's the former, but have been and remain unwilling to accept a future with no hope. 

The Galant affair seems to have come to an end, with the announcement that Major-General Gantz will be the next Chief of Staff. I do not know enough about either of the Generals to be able to judge them. However, the fact that Barak wanted Galant and not Gantz, is enough to make me happy that Gantz will be the next chief of staff. Defense Minister Barak has become the least trusted Israeli leader in a long time.

Egypt, Again

How the country's turmoil resonates with a striking biblical parallel.

The front-page stories in newspapers around the world today resonate with striking biblical parallel.

The land of the pharaohs is suddenly aflame with a movement of millions crying out for freedom from the oppression of a tyrannical regime. The same Egypt that millennia ago witnessed the rebellion of the Jews against their servitude seems to be replaying the story of the book of Exodus. Freedom is the mantra of the dissidents who want to bring to an end the despotic rule of Mubarak &ndash just as it was the driving force behind the mission of Moses who wanted to bring about a better world for his people.

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it's déjà vu all over again.

Of course the reality is that contemporary events are strikingly different from the Torah story. Today's revolution doesn't have the same divine source as the one in the Bible. The leadership of the rebels isn't as uniquely motivated by spiritual values as Moses and Aaron. For all we know, the overthrow of the present regime may very well prove to bring into power a worse devil, undoing Israel's peace with Egypt for the past three decades &ndash a peace, no matter how cold it may have been, that nonetheless ensured a measure of stability and the absence of military conflict. There's a very real danger that today's movement for change, in spite of its strong democratic slogans, will simply pave the way for turning Egypt into another extremist Islamic Iran.

But there is one very crucial connection between the story of old and contemporary events. It is rooted in the reason that we Jews have been obsessed with the story of the Exodus from Egypt for thousands of years. And now that the media and the world share our obsession with the land of the Nile and the pyramids, it is very important for us to identify exactly what it was about that experience that made it the seminal moment of Jewish history.

After all, the Jewish exodus from Egypt became immortalized even far more than by serving as source for the holiday of Passover. The Haggadah quotes the Talmud which teaches us that there is a mitzvah to remember the story of our departure twice every single day, morning and night. It is featured as a highlight memory of every Friday night Kiddush. And most strikingly of all, Egypt and the Exodus made it into the very first of the 10 Commandments:

"I am the Lord your God who took you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage."

Those are the stirring opening words of the Decalogue. They link God's claim to our belief and our allegiance not to any philosophical arguments or theological proofs we are simply commanded to obey all the laws given at Sinai because we were witness to what happened in Egypt.

And the biblical commentators were perplexed by an obvious question: Wouldn't it mean much more if God were to identify Himself first and foremost with the words I am the Lord your God who created the heavens and the earth? The fact that God liberated us from slavery was a wonderful achievement, but even human beings have been great emancipators. However only God Himself can lay claim to the role of creator. Why did the first commandment choose a seemingly lesser demonstration of divine power, the Exodus over creation, as the ultimate source deserving of bringing about mankind's acceptance of monotheism?

The powerful answer of many commentators is that the God whom we met at Sinai wanted above all to refute the heresy that denied not His existence, but His ongoing concern. Were God simply to identify himself as the One Who created the heavens and the earth, we could believe there is a divine origin to the universe but no ongoing connection that would make the Almighty relevant to our lives.

When He told us I am the Lord your God who took you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage, God wanted to impress upon us the idea, as Yehudah Halevi put it, that He is a God of history who maintains a personal relationship with every one of us created in His image.

And because God is a personal God who continues to care about us, about the fate of the Jewish people and the ultimate future of mankind, history becomes meaningful. It is orchestrated from Above. It has a pre-ordained destiny.

The story of our deliverance from Egypt is so very crucial because it proved to us for the first time and for all time that history is not happenstance, that events are not meaningless, that hidden beneath the often inexplicable moments that alter human destiny and the fate of empires and nations is the finger of God writing the script of the story of mankind.

The Talmud teaches us that there are two possible ways to view the events that befall us. The first is the philosophy of &ldquothere is no justice and there is no judge.&rdquo It is a heresy that adopts words like coincidence, chance or luck to explain the strange twists and turns of life, denying any link between the Creator and His creations.

The antithesis of this heresy is that history has meaning and purpose. It is not haphazard. It has a plan. It follows a divinely ordained order, decreed by God who continues to be involved in every aspect of the story of mankind.

And the word for "order" in Hebrew? It is "Seder."

That's why the most important ritual of Passover, commemorating the Exodus, is called Seder. Not because it emphasizes that there is an order, a Seder, to the meal, but because it summarizes the key message of our original Egypt experience.

Things happen for a reason. History follows a divinely decreed order. God didn't stop caring about the world after He created it. He is still deeply involved and He has a master plan for the end of days.

That's why Jews, in spite of all we've endured, remain optimistic about the future. The Egyptian experience taught us the message of the first commandment: God is a God of history who will never abandon His people or His plan for universal messianic fulfillment.

At this juncture no one can really say with certainty what will happen in Egypt today, and how much more so tomorrow. But even in the midst of all the turmoil and confusion we Jews can remind the world of the lesson Egypt was always meant to convey to us, going all the way back to Sinai: The dramatic changes of history have a divinely understood purpose. Their order, while often incomprehensible as they unfold, represent the way God chooses to bring about his ultimate design for mankind's salvation.

And perhaps, just perhaps, the contemporary story of rebellion and revolution in Egypt will be the stepping stones to another holiday like Passover that will commemorate the final redemption.

Nothing Learned

By David Warren - February 6, 2011

There are two, and only two, credible sources of power in Egypt, at the national level. One is the army, and the other is the Muslim Brotherhood. The former seized power in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, overthrowing the royal dynasty of that extraordinary Albanian, Muhammad Ali, which had ruled Egypt and Sudan (with unwanted British help) since 1805.

For history buffs, there is one parallel between 2011 and 1952, when King Farouk was bundled off to Italy, via Monaco. (A big bundle, for he had become in his Khedival office a very fat man.) And that was the strenuous operation behind the scenes, of Western powers including the CIA, to pull the rug from under him. Then, as now, the West plotted to deliver the country into the hands of our own worst enemies.

Farouk had alas become insupportable. The publicity attached to his European shopping trips made very poor foreground "optics," against the background of a country that was not rich. But what really sank him was the humiliating failure of Egyptian and allied forces to prevent the formation of Israel, in 1948. There is nothing more destructive to the authority of an Arab ruler than to appear ineffectual unless it is to appear to lack allies.

The Western powers very slowly grasped that they had contrived to replace a narcissistic fool with a socialist madman. Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, almost whimsically in the course of provoking another disastrous war with Israel in 1956 then another in 1967 while enmiring his country in dysfunctional authoritarian bureaucracy. As the West declined to support him any further, he manoeuvred into the Soviet orbit. But such was his charisma, and the resonance of Israel as his rhetorical bete noire, that he was able to embody pan-Arab nationalist aspirations, so well that we remember that defunct ideology as "Nasserism."

Nasser was no "Islamist," and for broader reasons the Egyptian army has long been consciously identified with secular rule. It has remained the only effective bulwark against the expanding influence and demands of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Under Anwar Sadat, a heroic attempt was made to permanently settle the conflict with Israel, and to pilot out of the Soviet orbit, back into the American -- while accommodating Muslim religious aspirations within Egyptian society. It should be mentioned here that this society was intensely conservative to begin with, and that the principal achievement of the Muslim Brotherhood has been, through preaching, to move that conservatism towards "Salafism." That is, to identify Islam itself with its own most puritanical and aggressive faction.

Peace with Israel was relatively easy, for Israel wanted peace. The Islamists could not be accommodated, however, and they were behind the assassination of Sadat in 1981.

For 30 years since, Hosni Mubarak has tried to advance his country in the direction Sadat pointed, while fully aware that he was straddling a volcano. Those who judge Mubarak by the standards of western constitutional democracies must tinge every observation of Egypt with fantasy.

Mubarak's greatest difficulty has been securing reforms which have included the gradual replacement of incompetent (and usually army-managed) state enterprises with free markets, and the "normalization" of relations with Israel, from behind a rhetorical cover. His very survival in office has been an extraordinary accomplishment, to which Egypt owes what peace and prosperity it has had.

Any way we look at it, Mubarak is gone. The man is old, and reputedly not well nature would take care of him, were it not for the mobs. He has been a hard realist all his life there is every reason to believe he is trying to make the best possible accommodation for the future of his country, under the conditions suddenly presented. The army, at this point, is making its own calculation, of whether it is better positioned with or without him still in office.

In Mubarak's interview with Christiane Amanpour of ABC News this week, I think we glimpsed the reality. Amanpour herself seems to have been deeply impressed, and to have learned something from the encounter. At the least it was a surprise to her, as to the rest of the media, to discover that Mubarak's son, Gamal, universally reported to have fled the country, had not. (That son was, incidentally, behind many of the free market reforms, and has been mischaracterized to the point of slander. He was trying to be Egypt's Rajiv Gandhi.)

"Apres moi, le deluge." As connoisseurs of this expression will know, it is always worth considering. And just as some paranoids have real enemies, some third-world dictators have good reason to warn what will happen if they relinquish power.

It is said that Mubarak has learned nothing in three decades. Perhaps so. But by trying to bundle him off, as if he were King Farouk, we in the West show that we have learned nothing in six.

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Egypt: Three Factors That Led to Revolution

After 30 years of oppressive power, Hosni Mubarak was deposed and the political landscape of Egypt radically changed by a 17-day peacefully revolution. Many covering the revolution for US media outlets have, in their ignorance of Egypt and her people, speculated broadly and wildly about what led to the revolution and why it was occurring now.

What is important to keep in mind is that this is a revolution decades in the making, not months or weeks or days. It is not a revolution that was started by social media or could only happen in an age of social media or the internet. Nor is this revolution occurring only because protests and demonstrations in Tunisia successfully led to Ben Ali fleeing the country. Egypt’s oppressive regime, economic woes worsened the wake of the 2008 financial crash, and a state riddled with corruption led to this revolution. These are problems long existing in Egypt, made worse and more exemplified by the global economic crash of late-2008.

The primary reason, the prevailing reason for the revolution in Egypt is the regime and the Egyptian people’s thirst for democracy and legitimate elections. No one in Egypt (or outside of Egypt for that matter) is fooled by the “elections” that have taken place during Mubarak’s regime. These so-called-elections have resulted in what Noor Khan has called a “musical chairs” effect in Egyptian politics: rotating the same people through government over and over again. The primary reason millions of Egyptians took to the streets in defiance of curfew orders, braving the brutality of the police, is to have choices. Period. A true, genuine democracy. Honest elections whose results will be enforced. It is impossible to believe that Mubarak’s party maintained such complete control of the government for so long. Impossible. The only way so many of his party members remained in power for so long is through forged election results and pervasive corruption. Fighting for a democracy, democratic elections, is also a fight to end the endless corruption throughout the Egyptian government. Bribes, endless bribes, to accomplish anything, to get any government document, permit, licence, etc. Hell, paying a simple monthly bill can take hours. Even getting your child into a school they have the right to attend takes a bribe. Everything takes a bribe.

In addition to this tight-gripe on elected positions, the Mubarak regime has run a notoriously brutal police state. Tight internet controls, kidnappings, torture, police beatings, and bribery run rampant nationally under Mubarak. Phrases such as “sent behind the sun” (referring to pervasive kidnappings by the police and army as well the disappearance of citizens) and “walk near the wall” (meaning, keep your head down and stay out of trouble to avoid being interrogated by the police) have become commonplace in Egypt. The first, prominent domino to fall regarding the revolution in Egypt, was the brutal beating death of Khaleed Said on June 7, 2010. The beating of Khaleed Said began inside an Alexandria cyber cafe and culminated in the street outside. His passing galvanized an already worked up Egyptian youth sick of police interrogation and beatings. In this respect, social media has been helpful in unifying Egyptian voices and international activism over Egypt’s brutal police state.

The second factor leading to the Egyptian revolution concerns the economic policies of the Mubarak regime, increased cost of living, and growing visibility of wealth disparage amongst Egyptian classes. Egypt is a country of 80 million people, at least a quarter of which live in the greater Cairo area/vicinity. With this kind of population, poverty and wealth disparage is inevitable. But since about 2003, the disparage of wealth in Egypt has become increasingly more noticeable. Multi-million dollar homes are now next to neighborhoods of abject poverty. The rising cost of living coupled with sizable population has led to a housing shortage which in turn has led to young Egyptians being unable to marry and purchase a home of their own. Cost of staple food products (meat, sugar, tomatoes) have risen 20-30% in the last few months. Cost of goods generally have risen about 12% since the fall. Egyptians struggling to feed their families are looking at fat-cat government officials spending lavishly on themselves and billions on the military while the average citizen struggles desperately to get by.

Dovetailed with the rising cost of goods in Egypt, as in much of the developing world, was the economic crash of late-2008 and the culture of deregulation (especially in the US) prior to that. Deregulating commodities exchanges, in particular, has led to trading commodities on the margin and pushing the risk of commodity exchanges to the brink. Regulations were in place to keep commodities from being traded on the margin, to keep from having to sell goods for less than their worth. Over the last twenty years, regulations have disappeared, leaving a financial sector to its own devices. When markets crashed at the end of 2008, it was as much due to the lack of regulations as it was supremely risking banking practices. The developing world has taken the rise of commodities the hardest. Costs of chiles has skyrocketed in Indonesia, the cost of onions has jumped drastically in the last few months in India, and staple ingredients have seen marked increases in the last few months across North Africa.

Egyptians already fed up with bribery, corruption, a clenched-fist, government controlled army and police were driven into the streets out of unending frustrations over cost of living, economic and social stagnation, and a failure of hope in their own futures. The US media has done a bang-up job at sounding ignorant, cluelessly unaware of anything outside their own studios throughout this whole process. Often left scratching their heads and rambling incoherently about how this will affect the US, or Israel, or asking equally clueless politicians what their opinions and take on the situation is. Worse yet, the US media has birthed and stoked fears and misinformation about Egypt, her people, and the Muslim Brotherhood (more on them to come, stay tuned). Islam and her practitioners have long been held up as the universal boogeyman of many in this country. The all-purpose monster in the closet. This situation has highlighted this propensity in the ugliest ways.

For now, the Egyptian people have spoken to each other and to their government in ways they never had before. The brave, unified voice of Egypt has turned a critical and praise-worthy page in Egyptian history, in Arab history, in World history. Those unwilling or unable to recognize the significance of that are the only problem with the revolution.

What is the basic timeline of the Old Testament?

The following timeline of the Old Testament has been compiled with the assumption that the genealogies are literal and complete. If so, God created the world about 6000 years ago. All years are approximate.

Creation to the Flood
Creation: 4000 BC (we don't know how long Adam and Eve lived in the Garden before their exile.)
Adam: 4000 BC &mdash 3070 BC (Genesis 2:7 5:5)
Methuselah: 3350 BC &mdash 2350 BC (Genesis 5:21 5:27)
Noah: 2950 BC &mdash 2000 BC (Genesis 5:29 9:29)
Flood: 2350 BC (Genesis 6&mdash9)

Note that Methuselah died a very short time before the Flood. It is possible that his name, literally "death/spear/violence &mdash bring," was the prophecy "his death shall bring." His death certainly did herald a significant event.

The Flood to Abraham
Flood: 2350 BC (Genesis 6&mdash9)
Tower of Babel: 2250 BC (Genesis 11:1&ndash9)
Egypt founded: 2170 BC
Abraham: 2165 BC &mdash 1990 BC (Genesis 11:26 25:8)

The genealogies in the Old Testament show that Noah died while Abraham's father was living. Noah's father, Lamech, was born about eighty years before Adam died. It's very possible that the story of creation could have been passed on through very few steps.

Abraham to the Exile
Abraham: 2165 BC &mdash 1990 BC (Genesis 11:26 25:8)
Abraham goes to Canaan: 2090 BC (Genesis 11:31)
Ishmael: 2080 BC &mdash ? (Genesis 16:11)
Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed: 2065 BC (Genesis 19:1&ndash29)
Isaac: 2065 BC &mdash 1885 BC (Genesis 21:1 25:29)
Jacob: 2005 BC &mdash 1855 BC (Genesis 25:26 49:33)
Joseph: 1910 BC &mdash 1800 BC (Genesis 30:23&ndash24 50:26)
Joseph sold into slavery: 1895 BC (Genesis 37:18&ndash36)
Jacob and family move to Egypt: 1870 BC (Genesis 46&mdash47)
Exile to Egypt: 1870 BC &mdash 1450 BC (Genesis 46&mdashExodus 12:33-41)

After the Flood, lifespans drastically decreased. Noah lived to be 950 years old. Abraham, who was born shortly after Noah died, lived to be only 175.

The Exile to the Monarchy
Exile to Egypt: 1870 BC &mdash 1450 BC (Genesis 46&mdashExodus 12:33-41)
Moses: 1530 BC - 1410 BC (Exodus 2:2 Deuteronomy 34:5)
Moses flees to Midian: 1490 BC(Exodus 2:15&ndash25)
Exodus from Egypt: 1450 BC (Exodus 12:33&mdash14:31)
Forty years in the Wilderness: 1450 BC &mdash 1410 BC (Exodus 16&mdashJoshua 1)
Joshua's rule: 1410 BC &mdash 1390 BC (Deuteronomy 34:9&mdashJudges 2:8)
Conquest of Canaan Completed: 1400 BC (Judges 1)
Deborah serves as Judge: 1245 BC &mdash 1200 BC (Judges 4&mdash5)
Gideon serves as Judge: 1195 BC &mdash 1155 BC (Judges 6)
Samuel serves as Judge: 1090 BC &mdash 1045 BC (1 Samuel 1:1&mdash25:1)

The Timeline of the Old Testament shows the Israelites were in Egypt for about 400 years and then were ruled by judges for about 400 years. They then demanded a king.

The Unified Monarchy
Saul Reigns: 1095 BC &mdash 1015 BC (1 Samuel 10:17&mdash2:13)
David Reigns: 1015 BC &mdash 970 BC (2 Samuel 1:1&mdash1 Chronicles 19:1)
Solomon Reigns: 970 BC &mdash 930 BC (1 Chronicles 19:1&mdash2 Chronicles 9:31)
The Kingdom Splits: 930 BC (2 Chronicles 10)

Israel, the Northern Kingdom: 930 BC &mdash 725 BC
Elijah serves as Prophet: circa 870 BC
Obadiah serves as Prophet: circa 845 BC
Elisha serves as Prophet: circa 840 BC
Jonah serves as Prophet: circa 780 BC
Hosea serves as Prophet: circa 760 BC
Assyria destroys Israel: 725 BC (2 Kings 17)

Judah, the Southern Kingdom: 930 BC &mdash 590 BC
Joel serves as Prophet: circa 825 BC
Amos serves as Prophet: circa 750 BC
Micah serves as Prophet: circa 725 BC
Isaiah serves as Prophet: circa 690 BC
Zephaniah serves as Prophet: circa 640 BC
Nahum serves as Prophet: circa 625 BC
Habakkuk serves as Prophet: circa 620 BC
Ninevah destroyed: 612 BC
Jeremiah serves as Prophet: circa 600 BC
Babylonian exile: 590 BC (2 Kings 25)

After being ruled by judges for 400 years, the nation of Israel only lasted about 165 more years united under one king. The Northern Kingdom of Israel so rebelled against God that it was only another 200 years before the Assyrians destroyed them. The Southern Kingdom of Judah managed to last about 340 years before the Babylonian captivity.

Exile in Babylon
Babylonian Empire: 1984 BC &mdash 539 BC
Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon: 605 BC &mdash 562 BC
Daniel taken to Babylon: 605 BC (Daniel 1)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego survive the fiery furnace: 595 BC (Daniel 3)
Ezekiel serves as Prophet: circa 593 BC
Daniel's confrontation with Belshazzar: 539 BC (Daniel 5)
Persian Empire: 539 BC &mdash 330 BC
Cyrus King of Great Persian Empire: 576 BC &mdash 530 BC
Jews start returning to Jerusalem: 536 BC
Temple Rebuilt: 530 BC &mdash 515 BC (Ezra)
Haggai serves as Prophet: circa 525 BC
Zechariah serves as Prophet: circa 525 BC
Xerxes (Ahasuerus) King of Persia: 485 BC &mdash 465 BC (Esther)
Esther becomes Queen: 475 BC
Esther saves the Jews: 470 BC
Ezra serves as Priest: 460 BC &mdash 430 BC
Nehemiah Governor of Jerusalem: 460 BC &mdash 430 BC
Malachi serves as Prophet: circa 440 BC

Jeremiah was right—from the fall of Judah to the first refugees returning to Jerusalem was about seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11). But the Old Testament timeline doesn't tell the whole story. Not all the Jews left, and there are still small pockets of Jews in such places as Iran and India.

The Intertestamental Period
Alexander the Great reigns in Greece: 336 BC &mdash 323 BC
Judea ruled by the Greek Empire: 330 BC &mdash 308 BC
Judea ruled by Egypt: 308 BC &mdash 195 BC
Judea ruled by Syria: 195 BC &mdash 130 BC
Maccabean Revolt: 164 BC &mdash 63 BC
Judea ruled by the Roman Empire: 65 BC &mdash AD 70
Julius Caesar rules Roman Empire: 46 BC &mdash 44 BC
Herod the Great reigns as King of the Jews: 37 BC &mdash 4 BC
Jesus born: 6&mdash4 BC

Neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament have much to say about the timeline between Malachi and the birth of John the Baptist. Most of what we can gather from this period comes from the Apocryphal books of 1 and 2 Maccabees as well as secular historical records.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Timeline Since 2000

By Jennie Wood

2000 July 11-24 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Chairman Yasser Arafat meet with U.S. President Bill Clinton at Camp David to negotiate a final settlement based on the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. Despite progress on other issues, the two sides fail to reach an agreement on Jerusalem.

September 28 Ariel Sharon, Israel's minister of foreign affairs, visits the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a holy site to both Jews and Muslims. Sharon's visit ignites a violent revolt from the Palestinians, which begins the second intifada, or Al-Aksa intifada.

October 17 At a summit in Sharm El Sheikh, hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, both sides agree to a truce. At the urging of the Palestinians, a U.S.-led committee is formed to investigate the violence related to the Al-Aksa intifada and make recommendations to the United Nations. The committee's findings lead to the Mitchell Report.

October 21 At the Extraordinary Arab League Summit, also hosted by Mubarak, Arafat meets with other Arab leaders. Arafat praises the second intifada and calls for an international commission to investigate the violence, rather than accept the findings and recommendations outlined in the Mitchell Report.

December 23 President Clinton presents a two-state solution, urging both sides to endorse it. In Clinton's proposal, the Palestinians get roughly 97% of the West Bank, sovereignty over their airspace, and control over Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem including Haram esh-Sharif. However, his proposal stipulates that refugees can return to Israel only with Israeli consent.

December 27 The Israeli government accepts Clinton's proposal however, the deadline passes without a commitment from the Palestinians.

February 6 Ariel Sharon replaces Barak as Prime Minister of Israel.

May 6 The Mitchell Report is published with recommendations for negotiations and peace.

September 11 September 11. Terrorist attacks against the U.S. on the World Trade Center and Pentagon complicates the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The U.S. begins its war on terror. Hamas and Hezbollah are linked with Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda.

March 29 In retaliation of the Passover suicide bombing, Israel launches Operation Defensive Shield in effort to stamp out terrorist and suicide attacks. The operation includes reoccupying such towns as Ramallah, Nablus, and Jenin.

June 24 In a controversial speech President Bush outlines the roadmap for peace, a plan that calls for the end of the violence and a peace agreement. The roadmap for peace was proposed by the Quartet, a group which includes the U.S., the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia.

September 17 The Quartet issues a statement regarding the Bush Administration's roadmap. Using the roadmap, the Quartet will try to shape international policy toward an Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution.

April 29 Mahmud Abbas is appointed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.

September 6 Mahmud Abbas resigns as the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.

September 8 Ahmed Qurei is appointed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority by Arafat and Fatah / PLO.

November 24 Israeli prime minister Sharon calls for the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli forces if the roadmap fails.

December 1 Although leaked in November, the Geneva Accord peace plan is officially released.

December 8 In an emergency session, the United Nations General Assembly asks the International Court of Justice to rule on the legality of Israel's security barrier.

May 11 Israel begins Operation Rainbow to stop arms from passing through the Egypt-Gaza border in Rafah.

July 9 The International Court of Justice rules that Israel's security barrier is in violation of international law. Israel is ordered to dismantle the barrier. The UN General Assembly votes and orders Israel to take it down. Israel officially announces that it will ignore the ruling, but does change the route of the barrier.

October 25 Sharon's revised disengagement plan is approved by Israel's Knesset, calling for a complete withdrawal from Gaza

November 11 Yasser Arafat dies. Abbas and Qurei are to share his powers.

February 8 At a summit hosted by Egypt in Sharm El Sheikh, the intifada is officially over as both sides announce an end to the violence. Israel agrees to release 900 Palestinian prisoners and to gradually withdraw from Palestinian cities. Jordan's King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Mubarak, both in attendance, pledge to return ambassadors to Israel.

August 15 Israeli begins disengagement and evacuates Gaza settlements and four West Bank settlements.

September 1 All Israeli settlers and soldiers are now out of Gaza.

November 21 Israel Prime Minister Sharon quits the Likud party and forms Kadima, a new centrist party.

January 26 Palestine holds parliamentary elections. In a surprise victory, Hamas ousts the Fatah government, but Abbas remains PNA president.

March 28 Olmert elected prime minister of Israel.

June 25 Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups took Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, from Israeli territory and dragged him into Gaza. Despite prisoner exchange attempts, Shalit has been held hostage ever since.

July 12 Hezbollah militants cross the Lebanon-Israel border and attack an Israeli army patrol, killing three soldiers and kidnapping two others. The incident coincides with a series of mortar and rocket attacks on northern Israel by Hezbollah. Both incidents provoke a month-long war known as the 2006 Lebanon War.

August 14 The 2006 Lebanon War ends. The war causes criticism within Israel and more resentment from the Arab world.

November 26 Israel and Palestinians announce the Gaza strip truce, but rocket fire from Gaza continues.

June 9 Hamas seizes control of Gaza, routing Fatah forces and killing more than 100 people.

September 21 Israeli prime minister Olmert, facing corruption charges and a criminal investigation, announces his plans to resign.

October 26 Kadima primary winner and Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni announces that she cannot form a coalition and calls for elections.

May 19 President Obama declares that the borders demarcated before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war should be the basis of a Mideast peace deal between Israel and Palestine with adjustments made to account for Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

September 23 Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas officially requests a bid for statehood at the UN Security Council.

October 18 Gilad Shalit, a twenty-five year old Israeli soldier, is released after being held for more than five years by Hamas, a militant Palestinian group. Shalit is exchanged for hundreds of Palestinians who have spent years in Israeli jails.

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Timeline of the revolution in Egypt

Since the middle of January, Egyptians have demonstrated for political change and, finally, successful brought the the regime of President Hosni Mubarak to an end. The timeline of an Arab revolution.

Egyptians have been calling for Mubarak's resignation for over two weeks

Early January, 2011

Inspired by the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, activists in Egypt call upon the people to join in demonstrations. They want to protest against poverty, unemployment, and corruption - and against the 30 year reign of President Hosni Mubarak. An Egyptian attempts to set himself on fire before the parliament in Cairo.

The "Day of Rage." Thousands demonstrate in Cairo against the Mubarak regime. They march to the party headquarters of the ruling NDP, to the foreign ministry, and to the state broadcaster. The demonstrators become entangled in violent clashes with security forces security forces deploy tear gas and water canons against the demonstrators. Demonstrations also occur in other Egyptian cities. The Interior Ministry reports that three demonstrators and one police officer died. Ministry officials accuse the banned Muslim Brotherhood for instigating the unrest.

The protests continue but the state rules with an iron fist: At least two people die. A spokesperson for US President Barack Obama warns the Egyptian government that it must recognize the universal rights of the demonstrators.

The stock market in Cairo plummets as protests continue. Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mohammed ElBaradei arrives in Cairo and declares that he is ready to lead the opposition through a transition of power. The social networks Twitter and Facebook, which the demonstrators used to organize protests, are blocked.

In expectation of massive protests in connection with Friday prayers, the government cuts Internet and mobile phone connections. ElBaradei is put under house arrest and the military enters the cities where they are greeted by cheering demonstrators.

Mubarak appoints a new government. For the first time in his 30 year reign, Mubarak names a vice president: Secret Police Chief Omar Suleiman. The demonstrators in Tahrir Square successfully defend themselves against attempts by the military to disperse them. In Berlin, the heads of government of Germany, England and France say they are deeply worried about the situation.

Plunderers, arsonists, and robbers terrorize the population. Prisoners break out of jail with help from the outside. Among the escapees are hardened criminals and Islamic extremists. The Muslim Brotherhood makes a statement for the first time demanding that Mubarak step down and a new national unity government be formed.

Mubarak rejects demands that he step down. At the same time, he orders his head of government, Ahmad Schafik, to introduce reforms. The demonstrators defy roadblocks and continue to occupy Tahrir Square. They call for a "March of a Million" and a general strike for the following the day. The television broadcaster Al-Jazeera announces massive disruptions to its coverage. Israel calls on the world to hold back on criticizing Mubarak and to ensure regional stability.

The "March of a Million" brings the power struggle to boiling point. Mubarak announces in a televised address to the nation that he will not run for another term as president. This concession does not satisfy the opposition. Around midnight, street battles erupt with Mubarak supporters.

Tahrir Square has been the epicenter of the protests

Mubarak supporters ride on camel and horseback into the crowd occupying Tahrir Square. Heavy street battles break out. The army, stationed on the square with tanks, stays out of the fighting. There are dead and hundreds of injured. During a telephone conversation, Barack Obama calls on Mubarak to begin the transition to democracy without delay. Internet access is restored.

In the early hours of the morning, the situation on Tahrir Square comes to a head. Shots are heard, Molotov cocktails and stones are thrown, cars burn.

Hundreds of thousands collect peacefully on Tahrir Square for the so-called "Day of Departure." The US government supposedly speaks with Egyptian government officals about an immediate resignation by Mubarak. The EU heads of state and government call for an immediate change of government

Thousands of demonstrators continue to occupy Tahrir Square peacefully. Reports tallying the number of dead vary. The United Nations reports 300 dead. High party functionaries resign. The rumor circulates that Mubarak could go to Germany for "medical treatment." Berlin later denies the rumor.

Banks open for the first time in days and traffic police patrol the streets of Cairo again.

Tahrir Square remains occupied by the demonstrators and develops into a tent city. The previously arrested activist Wael Ghonim, a Google manager, is let free. Many see him as a potential leader of the fractured opposition

The masses on Tahrir Square swell to the largest demonstration yet. The protests remain peaceful. The US increases pressure on Mubarak and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon pushes for a swift change.

The trade unions begin to participate in the protests. Strikes occur all over the country. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Ghiet warns in an interview that the army could intervene in order to protect the country against a seizure of power.

February 10

In a highly anticipated televised address, Mubarak declares he will delegate some powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman. Mubarak's expected resignation does not occur. However, Mubarak says he will not run in the elections planned for September. The demonstrators in Tahrir Square react with rage and disappoinment.

February 11

After demonstrators expand their protests to other parts of Cairo, large numbers of Mubarak opponents assemble in front of the presidential palace as well as the state television building. The army says it will guarantee free and fair elections and calls on the people to return to normalcy.

In the late afternoon, news reports say that Mubarak has left Cairo and is resigning his post.

Author: Matthias von Hein/ sk
Editor: Jennifer Abramsohn

DW recommends

History lesson: Why letting go is so hard to do

Since the Egyptian crisis began nearly two weeks ago, President Obama has been under pressure to declare unequivocally that it is time for President Hosni Mubarak to step down. Obama has walked up to the edge -- saying the transition to representative government "must begin now." But a clean break has not yet come.

There are several reasons for this reluctance. Obama doesn't want to be seen as giving orders to another leader, particularly one who has been a loyal ally to the United States for three decades. If Mubarak rejects a personal demand, U.S. leverage will be lost. Obama also knows that other U.S. allies are watching closely, wondering if the United States would abandon them as well.

The best possible outcome -- from the U.S. strategic perspective -- is that Mubarak himself decides he has to step down sooner, and the United States is perceived to have nudged him, not sawed off the limb.

Other presidents have shared Obama's dilemma. In three recent cases of dictators being overwhelmed by popular passions, the U.S. president held on to the relationship until virtually the very last minute -- even when the crisis unfolded over a period of months. Here's what happened, drawn in part from advisers' memoirs.

The Fall of the Shah, 1979

Iran's Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi may have been a megalomaniac with feared security services, but his regime was central to American power in the Persian Gulf. As Jimmy Carter put it in a New Year's Eve toast in Tehran one year before the shah was deposed: "Iran, because of the great leadership of the shah, is an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world. This is a great tribute to you, your majesty, and to your leadership, and to the respect and the admiration and love which your people give to you."

It was an unfortunate toast. Within days of Carter's remarks, demonstrations against the shah's rule began. Nine months after Carter's visit, violence erupted in Tehran's Jaleh Square and troops killed scores of demonstrators. Carter placed a call to the shah

"The president said he was calling to express his friendship for the shah and his concern about events," wrote Zbigniew Brzezinski, his national security adviser, in his memoir "Power and Principle." "He wished the shah the best in resolving these problems and in being successful in his efforts to implement reforms." Carter agreed to publicly endorse the shah's efforts at reform "as strongly as possible.'

The crisis grew. On Oct. 27, the White House had the U.S. ambassador deliver another message to the shah: "The United States supports him without reservation in the present crisis." The message added the United States recognizes "the need for decisive action and leadership to restore order" and that whether he should choose to assemble a coalition government or a military government "is up to the shah. . Whatever route he goes we will support his decision fully."

Brzezinski followed up with his own call to "make it clear to him that the president of the United States stood behind him." The shah took the hint and announced the formation of a military government. But that was not enough to stem the crisis, and the Carter administration was badly split over the right response.

Up until the shah's departure's in mid-January -- four months after the deadly shootings in Jaleh Square -- the administration discussed whether to encourage a military coup or even launch a military invasion to protect oil fields. Carter "would not cross the elusive line between strong support (which he provided the shah quite consistently) and the actual decision to embark on a bloody and admittedly uncertain course of action," Brzezinski concluded.

The Fall of Marcos, 1986

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos was another longtime ally. His nation housed two critical U.S. military bases, and U.S. officials turned a blind eye to his high living and the corruption rampant in his government. In 1981, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush praised Marcos for his "adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic processes." President Ronald Reagan dismissed the notion that there was any non-communist alternative to Marcos. In fact, when Reagan officials took office in 1981, their mindset was that Carter had pushed dictators too hard for reform.

But in August 1983, exiled opposition politician Benigno Aquino was assassinated at Manila airport as he returned home, and domestic support for Marcos eroded. Marcos was forced to call snap presidential elections. Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, decided to run and drew huge crowds of supporters for the Feb. 7, 1986, election.

Election-day poll watchers reported that fraud was rampant and Aquino surely won, even though the National Assembly, controlled by Marcos, declared the incumbent president the victor by 1.5 million votes.

Meanwhile, on the day of the election, then-Secretary of State George P. Shultz had already decided that Marcos had to go, according to his memoir "Turmoil and Triumph." But he knew he faced a problem. As one of Shultz's aides put it, the president "will be inclined to call Marcos and congratulate him on his victory." Indeed, the White House initially issued a statement saying Marcos had won the election. Then, as evidence of fraud mounted, at a news conference Reagan's first instinct was to suggest both sides were equally guilty of fraud.

As the crisis grew -- with both Marcos and Aquino declaring themselves the victors -- the Reagan administration reacted cautiously and fitfully. Events took on a life of their own as two top military officials resigned, and this time the White House said their actions "strongly reinforce our concerns that the recent president elections were marred by fraud."

But the U.S. ambassador cabled back to Washington: Marcos would not resign unless Reagan asked him to do so. And he planned to take the oath of office in 48 hours.

Reagan hesitated. His chief of staff warned of another Iran. Finally, on Feb. 24, he decided to call on Marcos to resign. "But he was still deeply disturbed at the thought of the fall of a longtime friend and anti-Communist ally," Shultz wrote. "Ronald Reagan had turned the corner intellectually but not emotionally."

When the U.S. ambassador delivered the message to resign, Marcos rejected the request, telling him it was a "ridiculous conclusion." Marcos then wanted to have a significant advisory role in the new government. Finally, Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.) was dispatched to call Marcos and let him know he had to leave the country -- "cut and cut clean."

Reagan still felt rotten about the outcome of the crisis, which had lasted about three months. Shultz said he knew "my relations and the White House had been badly strained by the turn of events in the Philippines and my role in them."

The Fall of Suharto, 1998

Suharto, a former Indonesian general, grabbed power in his country in 1966 and proceeded to rule the world's fourth most populous nation for more than three decades, with mounting corruption and a veneer of democracy. But Indonesia was also an important ally.

When the country was hit hard by the 1997 Asian economic crisis, there were widespread fears that the far-flung nation of 13,000 islands would splinter without Suharto's guiding hand. As Asia's longest serving leader, he also had important regional influence.

President Bill Clinton's first response was to urge Suharto to stick to a path of economic reforms. He called on Jan. 8, 1998, urging Suharto to continue with his reforms and expressing confidence in his leadership for overcoming the crisis.

Then, when Suharto became enamored of a risky alternative to prop up Indonesia's currency, Clinton called him on Feb. 21 and urged him to give up on the idea and stick with a program designed by the International Monetary Fund.

Teams of U.S. officials traveled to Jakarta to keep Suharto on track. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time, the high-profile "parade of Americans to Jakarta left the impression among Indonesians that the United States was once again lining up behind Suharto."

Demonstrations against the government grew, along with allegations that the regime was abducting and torturing its critics, but the Clinton administration stayed focused on the international economic rescue.

On May 2, "administration officials said that, despite mounting criticism of the Suharto regime's human rights practices, they are not threatening to cut off Indonesia's $43 billion bailout led by the International Monetary Fund," The Washington Post reported. "Depriving the country of desperately needed cash, they argue, would only deepen its economic crisis and increase the chances of social turmoil and bloodshed."

The administration's position began to change only after Indonesia security forces killed unarmed student protesters on May 12. The State Department began hinting that it was time for Suharto to relinquish much, if not all, of his power. He finally resigned on May 21, 1998 -- about six months after the crisis began.

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