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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Jew Cooties revisited

The Jew Cooties issue is getting more play in the mainstream media, a week after I became perhaps the first English-language blogger to publish the picture of Al Azhar Sheikh Tantawi shaking hands with Shimon Peres.

Ha'aretz says a major Egyptian paper is demanding that Tantawi "ritually purify his hands" after this awful event. I am not clear what that means; Muslims ritually wash their hands numerous times a day, so perhaps it really does mean that the hand should be cut off.

YNet mentions that Tantawi, after initially denying knowing who Peres was, now admits that he shook his hand on purpose and spoke to him for a few minutes, although saying that they didn't speak about anything important. Perhaps sealing Tantawi's fate, YNet adds:
Contrary to Tantawi's claims, Ynet has learned that during the New York conference it was actually the sheikh who approached Peres, and knowing who he was, shook his hand and talked with him for several minutes.

Tantawi reportedly told Peres, "Preachers play a very important role in calming the situation and creating an atmosphere of peace."
Which is of course the very problem - while Egypt has been at "peace" with Israel for thirty years, it never tried to stop the incitement in its media against the Jewish state. The "peace" is paper-thin, and it was represented to Egyptian citizens as merely a ruse to regain the Sinai and erase the shame of losing in 1967.

The Tantawi kerfuffle shows how much loathing Egyptians continue to have for Israel, including Israel's most dovish leaders. From Egypt's perspective, Camp David was not a peace agreement, but merely a long-term cease fire that is a single bullet away from being destroyed.

And the fact that Tantawi caused a similar stir ten years ago by meeting with Israel's chief rabbi shows that old fashioned anti-semitism is also a major factor here.