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Behind the Headlines Israel in Egypt’s Media

October 12, 1982
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

If an assessment of the current state of Egyptian-Israeli relations was to be made on the basis of attitudes reflected in the media here, there would be little indication that the peace treaty has weathered Egypt’s furor over Israeli actions in Lebanon.

Although celebrations marking last week’s anniversary of the Yom Kippur War lacked the fanfare of last year’s military parade, at which President Anwar Sadat was assassinated, Egypt appeared to commemorate its 1973 crossing of the Suez Canal with an enthusiasm that overshadowed any homage to the late President Sadat for his legacy of peace.

The eulogies that appeared in nearly every paper, and even the address delivered by President Hosni Mubarak to mark the anniversary of Sadat’s death, bore the tone of apologies to the Egyptian people rather than a collective acclamation of the late President’s achievements.

In his nationally televised address before Egypt’s ruling political party, Mubarak warned that “whatever the attempts to try and blur the accomplishments of Sadat … the great achievements, of course, can never be dissipated against the background of certain marginal matters …”


Egypt’s largest circulation daily, Al Akhbar, published a front page editorial entitled “Sadat – A Dictator,” which attempted to answer charges that the late President was an autocratic ruler by demonstrating how his style of autocracy was unique and positive in many respects.

A similar trend surfaced in the major Egyptian journals. Anis Mansour, editor of the widely respected October magazine, observed that the prevailing attitude toward Sadat in Egypt today has pointed to an Egyptian trend of rallying behind the country’s leaders with a fervor, only to malign them after death. Mansour suggested that the present generation of Egyptians has reverted to a kind of blind worship of the late Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Government officials, as well as the news media, have gone to great lengths to remind Egyptians of Sadat’s domestic and foreign policy achievements, including the peace treaty with Israel.

At the same time, however, the dual anniversary of the October 1973 war and Sadat’s assassination last year has provided an opportunity, in light of Egypt’s failure to influence the course of events in Lebanon, to do some muscle flexing of its own, and remind Israel that it views peace between the two countries as the fruit of an Egyptian initiative undertaken from the position of strength which it demonstrated in the surprise attack of 1973.

President Mubarak, in his address last week as well as several editorials in the press, have warned Israel that it would do well to bear in mind the “lessons of the October War.”

Although the attitude of the Egyptian media has reflected the extent of the strain in Egyptian-Israeli relations which reached its peak following the massacre of Palestinians in west Beirut and the subsequent recall of Egypt’s Ambassador in Israel, Egypt’s official stance on relations between the two countries has remained firm.

The blistering verbal attacks against Israel by Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali and Mubarak himself have consistently been accompanied by reaffirmation of Egypt’s commitment to the peace treaty and to the Camp David peace process, most recently in Ali’s statement to Yedioth Aharanot, reported in the Egyptian papers Saturday, that the Egyptian Ambassador will return to Israel.

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