Columnists

Peace eludes Mideast 30 years after Anwar Sadat’s murder

Thirty years ago on Oct. 6, 1981, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt was gunned down on the reviewing stand of a military parade by Islamist infiltrators in the Egyptian army.

The parade commemorated the Ramadan war Sadat and his Syrian counterpart, Hafez al-Asaad, launched eight years earlier against Israel. The October 1973 war was, for Sadat, an effort to redress the humiliating defeat Israel delivered to Egypt and her Arab allies in the June 1967 war.

The Ramadan war ended in a stalemate. Sadat succeeded in catching Israelis by surprise, and then gaining a military foothold on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal.

The initial surprise – despite the Israeli counter-attack which encircled the Egyptian army as a prelude to the knockout punch that would have left Cairo hopelessly exposed and vulnerable – was deemed sufficient for Sadat to claim a victory.

It was a victory behind the fig leaf of intense diplomacy initiated by Henry Kissinger, then the U.S. secretary of state, to negotiate between Cairo and Jerusalem a series of agreements that eventually set Sadat on the course to a peace treaty with the Jewish state.

We need to recall the murder of Sadat, especially this year, given the enormity of lies levelled against Israel at the UN for obstructing the rights of Palestinians to statehood by Palestinians, their Arab-Muslim backers and their apologists in the West.

There could be nothing further from truth if history is to bear testimony to the depravity of those – Palestinians and their friends – who celebrated news of Sadat’s murder as they would the Islamist attacks on America 20 years later on 9/11.

The men who killed Sadat emerged from the same entrails of Islamist politics of violence that launched al-Qaida.

The current leader of al-Qaida and successor to Osama bin Laden is Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian indicted and imprisoned in 1981 as a leader of Islamic Jihad for collaborating in the murder of Sadat.

Sadat’s crime in the eyes of his enemies was his journey to Jerusalem in November 1977. In the Israeli capital Sadat embraced Prime Minister Menachem Begin and other Jewish leaders, addressed Israelis by speaking in the Knesset, and prepared the ground for the landmark Egypt-Israel peace treaty of 1979.

This agreement was precedent setting for what could be expected between Israel and other Arab states and, most importantly, between Israelis and Palestinians: Mutual recognition, an end to violence with an acceptance by Palestinians of Israel and its right to be secure, and the establishment of a Palestinian state which Palestinians had refused in 1947.

In the preparation of the eventual Egypt-Israel peace treaty, Sadat repeatedly asked Yasser Arafat and other Palestinians leaders to join him in negotiating with the Israelis.

Palestinians could have made peace with Israel as Sadat did back in the 1970s when there were no Jewish settlements to speak of in the West Bank.

But Sadat was rebuffed. Egypt’s membership in the Arab League was suspended, and the League’s headquarters moved from Cairo to Tunis.

Arafat and Palestinians supported Arab rejectionists, and cheered Islamist terrorists for killing the only Arab leader who knowingly placed his life on the line for peace between Arabs and Jews.

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Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen

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