In 1948, Egypt invaded the fledgling country of Israel, trying to wipe it off the map, along with four other Arab nations, and contingents from two additional Arab nations. In 1956, Israel attacked Egypt as a part of the Sinai campaign to keep open the Suez Canal, in agreement with Britainand France. From 1956 to 1967 there was a constant War of Attrition along the border, including acts of terrorism emanating from the Egyptian side. In 1967, Israel preemptively struck Egypt, after the Egyptians had closed off access to the Suez Canal for Israeli ships, and Egyptian and Syrian troops were massing at their respective borders, with Israel being victories in the resulting Six Day War, taking the Sinai from Egypt. In 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel, which almost resulted in the total destruction of the State of Israel (i.e. Dayan’s* statement of the imminent “destruction of the Third Temple”). 35 years ago, Egypt was one of Israel’s two greatest enemies.

Yesterday marked the thirtieth anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. The treaty was signed on 26 March 1979 on the White House Lawn by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and was overseen by American President Jimmy Carter. In it, Israel agreed to withdraw from the Sinai, pulling out its settlements and military bases, and giving up its strategic position overlooking the Suez Canal. In return, Egypt recognized Israel’s right to exist in peace and security. Both countries promised to allow each other to live in peace and prosperity.

While the peace between the two countries has not always been the warmest, there is, nonetheless, a stable and, so-far, lasting peace between the two nations. At the time of the signing, there was a feeling on both sides (though primarily in Israel), that this would be the beginning of “a beautiful friendship.” While this “friendship” has had many ups and downs (probably more downs than ups), the friendship is still intact. In fact, during Operation Cast Lead, the Egyptian government was far more critical of Hamas than they were of the Israeli government. The peace was, also, reaffirmed by statements released by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak “celebrating” the anniversary.

Here’s to hoping the peace continues, grows warmer and stronger, and spreads throughout the region, so that all the peoples of the region may “beat their swords into plow shares, their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they ever again know war” (Isaiah 2:4).

In this spirit, below is the traditional Jewish song “Hine Ma Tov,” sung in Hebrew, by the late Egyptian singer Dalida.
Dalida singing “Hine Ma Tov”

**thanks to my dear friend Arie for pointing out that this was a statement by Dayan, and not by Halutz!

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