by Lee Smith
Something is rotten in the state of
The Obama administration's Arab-Israeli peace process is in more trouble than even the White House realizes. To be sure, the Israelis and Palestinians are both dug in, and when the president sought baby steps from the Arabs toward normalizing relations with
"The ambassador had a proposal to convene a symposium and asked me to participate," Mustafa told me by phone. "Egyptians, Israelis and Palestinians were to discuss Obama's initiatives and the peace process. Since we would need authorization from Al-Ahram and other state institutions, I didn't give him any final decision."
Nonetheless, chairman of the Egyptian press syndicate Makram Muhammad Ahmed claimed that Mustafa's brief interview with Cohen violated the boycott of the Zionist enemy that the syndicate adopted in 1983.
"But there have been many exceptions" over the past two decades, Mustafa says. "A lot of journalists at Al-Ahram have met with Israelis and even traveled to
A member of the ruling National Democratic Party's policy planning staff, Mustafa says that the regime still considers her an independent intellectual, and wants to limit interactions with Israel to intellectuals and journalists with connections to the security establishment. "The issue with me is not a legal one," she says, "since the constitution endorses the right of individuals to think and act freely, and we have a peace treaty with
The context is not just normalization, but an
"The press syndicate's probe is part of a paranoid reflex against any contact with
for nearly two decades. "It harms not only
It also affects
Hosni was passed over in favor of the Bulgarian candidate, Irina Bukova, which is to say that if the Culture Minister's anti-Israel bias had crossed even UN redlines, then something is decidedly wrong with
The Mubarak government, Mustafa believes, missed an opportunity in the Hosni affair to make a constructive point. "It was a chance for the state to say, '
Mustafa, a frequent visitor to
"The regime is comfortable now that Obama has dropped political reform and democracy, contrary to Bush," says Mustafa. "But the message is clear:
Lee Smith is the author of 'The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations' (Doubleday), forthcoming in January.
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