As the situation in Egypt rapidly deteriorates, the press here offers reams of analysis Sunday about the not-quite-civil-war between the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Israel Hayom leads the way with 10 pages of coverage, starting with a front page that states the Egyptian military’s position: “Muslim Brotherhood — terror group.” Despite that provocative headline about the party that briefly ran Egypt, the paper devotes the top of its lead story to a liberal movement in Egypt that’s circulating a petition to annul the peace agreement with Israel. The group, Tamarod, had reportedly gathered 300,000 signatures as of Saturday night, but in a country of over 80 million people, it seems safe to say that most of the country’s attention is on more pressing issues.
It is those affairs that take up the other half of the article, which draws on a New York Times report according to which Israel promised General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi that American military aid wouldn’t be cut. According to the article, Obama has agreed not to cut military funding but will not transfer new fighter jets to the interim military-backed regime.
While the Obama administration seems inclined to maintain military aid to Egypt, the front page of Maariv shows that Europe may be of a different mind. “The EU holds emergency discussions about Egypt sanctions,” reads the headline. Inside, the paper details the growing international pressure on the Egypt to broker a cease-fire between the two sides, with Europe weighing whether or not to impose sanctions on Egypt.
Maariv also includes an article about how the Muslim Brotherhood has targeted Egypt’s Christian minority, the Copts. Over the weekend 50 Coptic churches were destroyed by arson attributed to the Muslim Brotherhood. Pope Tawadros responded to the attacks, decrying violence in the name of religion. “These brutal men use the name of religion and then attack a house of God,” he said. “These brainwashed youths burn churches and kill innocent people just because of their religion.”
Haaretz’s front page headline is similar to Israel Hayom’s, “Egyptian regime: We are in a war against terror,” it declares, featuring a picture from a mosque that was held by Morsi supporters until the military moved in. The front page article adds that Israel is trying to keep a low profile regarding Egypt.
Every paper offers space to its columnists to make sense of the news coming out of Egypt.
Yedioth Ahronoth imports a post from Egyptian blogger Yasir Mahmoud Hasan Marzouk in Cairo who writes (in Hebrew) against the Muslim Brotherhood. In the piece, he writes how “the land of the Nile is sinking into a bloodbath” because the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood is to drag the world to intervene in Egypt. Reading the piece it’s easy to see the amount of distrust on each side. Among other accusations, he says the Brotherhood is setting people up to be killed. “The Brotherhood convinces innocent people to join them and donate money, and then they murder them and take their bodies outside as if the army shot them.”
In Haaretz, Zvi Barel questions the regime’s tactics in dealing with the situation. “If the plan was to disperse the protesters by force at the two locations and thereby to bring a change that would compel the Muslim Brotherhood to capitulate, it doesn’t appear to be working,” he writes. On the other hand, he also openly wonders just how much control the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood has over its members. Despite what both upper echelons might be planning, it’s the street that will decide the outcome for Egypt.
Tzach Yoked, writing in Maariv, tackles the international angle in his op-ed piece, “America is trapped.” Obama is caught between the proverbial rock and hard place deciding between the nondemocratic military leaders or supporting elected Muslim extremists. Yoked writes that the Arab Spring has suddenly gotten stormy and even America’s option of cutting off military aid could hurt it. “That could send the army to seek assistance elsewhere, somewhere less democratic, more extreme. And more hostile toward the United States and toward Israel.”
Dan Margalit seems bitter that Israel was forced back to the negotiating table with the Palestinians, penning an Israel Hayom column entitled, “Only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is always relevant.” Beginning with chiding the news media for not putting Syria on its front page (though neither did Israel Hayom), he then goes on to complain that the only story that never gets old in the media is Israel v Palestinians. Returning to Syria and attacking Obama’s foreign policy mistakes in the Middle East, he writes, “When Washington does not intervene against Assad, the United States emerges as the loser, and when it uses the language of condemnation against the Egyptian army, it will again be duped.”
Despite all the pages of coverage on Egypt, Yedioth’s front page was actually dominated by the polio vaccination campaign. The campaign to immunize Israel’s one million children is kicking off on Sunday and Yedioth rehashes an article it published a week ago about the campaign. The Page 2 story is complete with families who are pro, against, and undecided about vaccinations, as well as a question-and-answer section.