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Israel and Post‐Mubarak Egypt: Perils of Historical Analogy

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has perceived the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 as a replica of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. Drawing on the apparent similarities between the two revolutions—both made against dictators who reigned over secular, Western‐oriented regimes advocating coexistence with Israel, and both having Islamists as the best‐organized opposition force—Netanyahu appears to have concluded that the outcome for Israel would be the same: the advent of an aggressive Islamist regime in Cairo that would initiate a larger conflict. Based on this historical analogy, the Netanyahu government has adopted policies that are meant to help Israel defend against the potential deterioration in relations with Egypt. However, looking at Iran 1979 to draw on lessons about Egypt 2011 is misleading and does not take into account the significant differences that would rather lead Egypt to preserve the peace. This article analyzes Netanyahu's employment of this historical analogy and examines other appropriate lessons that Israel could draw from Iran's Islamic revolution, and proposes that Israel should instead engage the Egyptian revolution and reach a peace deal with the Palestinians so that it avoids misperception and maintains the Egyptian–Israeli peace.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: New York University

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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