This is just the beginning

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (left) and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (right) with U.S. President Jimmy Carter (center) at Camp David in 1978.

On the first day without Hosni Mubarak as president, Egyptian army leaders reassured the world on Saturday that they would maintain a 1979 peace treaty with Israel. A spokesperson for the army said Egypt would continue to abide by all its international and regional treaties.

The Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on Sept. 17, 1978 following 13 days of secret negotiations at Camp David. The two agreements were witnessed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The second of these frameworks led directly to the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.

But, now, the question arises: When a new government is eventually formed in Egypt, will the leaders maintain the decades-old peace between the two nations?

To learn more about the thoughts of the Jewish community in the Boston area, I went to Coolidge Corner in Brookline on Sunday. Overall, the individuals whom I spoke with were confident that the Egyptian leaders will act on their word. The majority of people trusted the army’s desire to remain peaceful with Israel.

“Hopeful would be the number one word,” said Andrey Shlyakhter, 30, of Cambridge. “I think it would make sense to keep [the treaty].”

Anti-Israeli feeling is strong in Egypt, though. Many of the protesters expressed anger over the past 18 days at Mubarak’s close cooperation with Israel on a range of issues.

Geographic relation of Egypt and Israel

“Israel knows there are leaders around the world that have stated they want to push Israel into the sea,” said Molly Zeff, 26, of St. Louis, while she ate lunch at Kupel’s Bakery on Harvard Street. “The U.S. will willingly back Israel no matter what happens. I don’t want to see another war.”

The shift in power when Mubarak stepped down last Friday is the most important aspect right now, said Sarah Nanasi, 26, of New York City.

“Regardless of whether they keep the treaty, change is a good thing,” she said while eating lunch at Rami’s. “Things can only get better. Egypt being stable is very important to that region.”

Speaking of negotiations, unrest is spreading throughout the Middle East – as many people predicted. On Monday in Yemen, protesters clashed with government supporters. The Palestinian Authority cabinet was dissolved in the West Bank. And in Bahrain, groups of young people met a heavy police presence on Monday.

On Sunday, I attended the International Student & Scholar Institute’s Middle Eastern event. I don’t want to give away too much about the night because I am in the process of creating a video of the celebration, but I spoke with a Northeastern University student who is from Egypt. I asked if he was excited about Mubarak stepping down, and he said he is more nervous and scared than content right now. His home is 10 minutes from the Cairo International Airport, and he said he is deeply concerned for his family living in Egypt.

It struck me that Egyptian people have mixed feelings about Friday’s news, while other individuals around the world only rejoiced at the power shift. There is a lot of cleaning up in Tahrir Square. This is only the beginning.

First inserted photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Second inserted photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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