Israel is not an obstacle to Egyptian reform

Sunday, February 6, 2011; 8:19 PM

The Anti-Defamation League agrees that the United States must play a constructive role in helping the Egyptian government to implement meaningful change that responds to the needs of the people and assures regional stability.

But George Soros was terribly wrong when he called Israel the "main stumbling block" to achieving much-needed democratic reforms ["Getting Egypt right," op-ed, Feb. 3].

Although Mr. Soros carefully laid out the tricky cross-currents at play in the popular uprising, it is difficult to know if he is more concerned with the well-being of the Egyptian people or with finding fault with Israel. He ignores the possibility that the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda includes principles that are antithetical to liberal democracy.

More outrageously, he concludes that "Israel is unlikely to recognize its own best interests" and suggests that the "main danger" is that the Obama administration will not adjust its policies quickly enough "to the suddenly changed reality" in Egypt.

Americans want to see the Egyptian people achieve their aspirations for inclusive and effective democratic reforms, and we support our government's efforts to help reach that result. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has clearly expressed that Israel, too, shares this vision.

Getting there will require significant social, economic and political changes to reverse decades of repression. It will take time to ensure that Egyptian yearning for change does not "end in tears." There is a lot riding on the outcome for Egypt, the United States, Israel and the entire region.

Abraham H. Foxman, New York

The writer is national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

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