For 8 long years the Egyptians have held Azzam Azzam, an Israeli Druse in captivity, claiming that he was a spy for Israel. Both he and Israel have categorically and consistently denied the accusation, but after a very public trial and frosty relations with Israel, Egyptian authorities did not see fit to release him.
However, Israel has diligently and consistently requested his release and these requests were made by the highest echelons.
As most of you who are following the news may have noticed, Arafat’s death is forcing everyone to re-evaluate their positions, and one of the key changes has been in Egypt’s attitude and approach to Israel. Relations are warming and just the other day Mubarak spoke well of Arik Sharon and even said that he may be the only Israeli leader able to provide peace to the Palestinians and that they’d be remiss if they were to miss the opportunity.
Now, one could be cynical about this and say that Egypt is simply another Arab power broker attempting to insinuate itself into the vacuum left by Arafat’s demise. So what? Politics are all about self-interest, and it’s good for Israel if Egypt is willing to improve relations.
Best of all, Azzam Azzam is back with his family now. Among other things, he said, “I am lucky to have been born in Israel and I’m proud of it.” Next time somebody talks about Israel being a “racist, apartheid country,” quote this man.