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New Egyptian textbook puts Israeli-Egyptian peace in more positive light

Posted by Albert Gersh - May 19, 2016


A new textbook introduced this semester by the Egyptian government puts Israeli-Egyptian peace in a much more positive light than previous editions, according to a report published Thursday. The book, for ninth graders, asks students to memorize the terms of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979 and to explain the “advantages of peace for Egypt and the Arab states.” According to The Media Line, the textbook is “part of a change to a more robust and positive treatment with Israel than that manifested during the three decades in power of [Egyptian President Abdel Fatah] al-Sisi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak.” Previous textbooks would barely mention Israel when referring to the peace treaty; in the new book, there is a photograph of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin standing alongside U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Ofir Winter, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said of this development, “This is an interesting and good symbolic innovation.” The spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Emmanuel Nahshon, said, “We view this as very positive. It is an extremely important demonstration of good will. We hope it will have a positive impact on younger generations as we look ahead at the next years and decades.”

Sisi announced this Tuesday, “If by our combined efforts and real desire, we can all achieve a solution to this problem and find hope for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis, history will write a new page that will be no less and might even be more of an achievement than the signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel forty years ago.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leader of the opposition Isaac Herzog both welcomed Sisi’s statement. Netanyahu said, "Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab countries to promote the diplomatic process and the stability of the region. I appreciate President Sissi's activities and am encouraged by the leadership he's displaying also on this issue.” Herzog added, "It’s a dramatic statement that reflects an opportunity for a historical process, in which the moderate Arab world expects a brave, strong and realistic reaching out by Israel.”

There has been increasing military and intelligence cooperation between Egypt and Israel. Sisi told The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth in March 2015 that he speaks with Netanyahu “a lot.” Israeli journalist Ben Caspit wrote on a couple of months ago that “Egypt’s higher stratums – from the president to the regime’s high echelons, the military, intelligence and the elites – view Israel as an important, powerful ally in regional struggles.” The two nations share concerns about the Sinai branch of ISIS as well as Hamas.


Iran’s failure to bring its money-laundering and terror finance laws into compliance with international standards has discouraged foreign banks from doing business with the country, according to a senior International Monetary Fund official.David Lipton, a deputy of the IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde, told Bloomberg News while in Tehran on Tuesday that “the best thing the government can do, and the banks can do, is to bring those standards up to international levels and try to reassure foreign partners, banks and otherwise that Iran’s banks are safe to deal with.” He added that “lenders here have to acknowledge that foreign banks will make decisions based on their assessments of risk management.”

Lipton is the first senior IMF official to visit Tehran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, according Iran’s central bank. His warning about Iran’s banking system echoes that of other industry and independent experts.

Stuart Levey, currently the chief legal officer of the London-based bank HSBC, wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal that Iran has not changed the behavior involving money laundering and terror finance that first prompted the United States, European Union, and United Nations to sanction it a decade ago. He added that HSBC is aware of the country’s “financial-crime risks and the underlying conduct,” and therefore “has no intention of doing any new business involving Iran.” Levey, who previously served as President Barack Obama’s undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, also questioned why Secretary of State John Kerry was encouraging European banks to assume the risk of working with Iran.

Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, observed last month that organizations like the Financial Action Task Force [FATF], which “is an intergovernmental agency that regulates markets and protects financial integrity” has been warning for years that “Iran, again, represents a severe illicit financial threat.”

The editors of The New York Times, who supported the nuclear deal with Iran, also noted last month:

Before the nuclear deal, Iran was largely isolated from the international banking system. It has not kept up with strict new rules to prevent money-laundering and terrorist financing. Experts say Iranian banks are badly run, politicized and lack transparency — warning signs for risk-averse foreign banks. Iran’s warlike behavior in the region — supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, arming Hezbollah and testing missiles — further discourages investment. As President Obama said recently, “Businesses want to go where they feel safe, where they don’t see massive controversy, where they can be confident that transactions are going to operate normally.”
Iranian officials have complained that country hasn’t seen the promised economic benefits from the nuclear deal and have threatened to abrogate it.

Valyollah Seif, the governor of Iran’s central bank, warned last month that the nuclear deal would “break up” if the U.S. didn’t give Iran greater access to its financial system. However, Seif himself acknowledged last year that it was Iran’s practices that prevented it from integrating into the international financial system. (via TheTower.org)

On Kibbutz Ketura in Israel’s Arava desert, more than 800 students from Israel and other countries have torn down barriers over the past two decades to find cooperative solutions for regional environmental challenges. This year, the non-profit Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is sponsoring concerts, conferences and public forums in celebration of its 20th anniversary of innovative environmental and peace-building work. “The Arava Institute is the only academic program in the Middle East to provide a balanced student body of approximately 40 students — one-third Jewish Israelis, one-third Palestinians and Jordanians and one-third international students each semester — with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to inspire Israeli-Arab environmental cooperation,” says Deputy Director Eliza Mayo. Considered one of the top environmental think tanks in the world, the Arava Institute recently was a semifinalist in the Hero Award by Billion Acts of Peace, a UN-supported initiative.  institute’s founders, Alon Tal and Miriam Sharton, envisioned creating cross-border environmental cooperation while “transforming misperceptions into meaningful friendships that transcend traditional political and religious divides,” Mayo says. “We set ourselves a specific goal to train and educate young adults to go out into the world using the environment as a tool for dialogue and dialogue as a tool for improving the environment in the region,” she says. (via Israel21c)

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