Leaders of the American Jewish Committee emerged optimistic from meetings with top Egyptian officials in Cairo this week.
“There is a new recognition among Egyptian policy makers and the government establishment that the future success of Egypt is tied to Egypt’s relationship to Israel,” AJCommittee President Robert Goodkind told the Jewish Week.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit hosted the three-member delegation.
The delegation, the first by an American Jewish group since the Hezbollah-Israel war, also met privately with Egypt’s national intelligence chief and a political advisor to President Hosni Mubarak, among others.Goodkind credited the war with “really waking up” the Egyptian officials to the “commonality of Israeli and Egyptian interests” in light of the Iran’s growing influence in the region. Jason Isaacson, AJC’s director of international affairs, said that during one of the meetings, a “senior” Egyptian official had gone so far as to endorse sanctions against Iran. “This official, who we cannot name, expressed concern about what he called the naive belief on the part of some in the international community that dialogue alone would resolve the Iranian nuclear problem.”
While the AJC delegation saw some hopeful signs from Egypt’s policy makers, they acknowledged that the Egyptian public frankly despises Israel. “We received the impression that many Egyptian intellectuals and clearly the Egyptian street is extraordinarily angry at Israel,” Goodkind said. “They feel that Israel used disproportionate power and acted callously against Lebanese civilians and Palestinians.”