Diab, Rasha. “From the Egyptian People’s Assembly to the Israeli Knesset: al-Sādāt’s Knesset Address, Ṣulḥ, and Diplomacy.” In Shades of Ṣulḥ. The Rhetorics of Arab-Islamic Reconciliation (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016): 112-60.
In late November 1977, Muḥammad Anwar al-Sādāt undertook a risky and highly visible trip across the Egyptian-Israeli border to visit with the Knesset . The epigraph above comes from his Knesset address (hereafter KA) and sums up its overall goal, which sought to enable deliberation commensurate with the gravity of a series of wars and to attain peace. al-Sādāt’s KA interrupted and transformed a prolonged diplomatic stalemate, resuscitated peace talks, and eventually led to the Camp David Treaty. The KA and texts it deliberates with and against are the focal point of this chapter.
This chapter offers a bidimensional reading of ṣulḥ discourse, underlining how al-Sādāt’s diplomatic deliberations resuscitated Egyptian-Israeli peace talks in 1977 by drawing on a long tradition of public, formal ṣulḥ in addition to the three main features of ṣulḥ, namely initiating peace through commitment; mobilizing witnesses; and creating a community, political structure included, of peace pursuers. As such, this chapter provides yet another case where the three main features of ṣulḥ are conspicuous. I contend that these features of ṣulḥ are crucial to understanding al-Sādāt’s 1977 peace initiative and that they are the backbone of the address. However, ṣulḥ continues to be invisible in scholarship on al-Sādāt’s initiative. It is important to note that in this case ṣulḥ expresses itself in relation to other discourses that also seek to create transformative encounters, namely diplomatic discourse, border crossing, war/peace epideictic rhetoric, and policy articulations at moments of crises. In this mix, ṣulḥ can be forgotten unless we deliberately tease out its manifestation in both the symbolic and procedural dimensions of peacemaking.
This study focuses on two exceptional moments in the Egyptian–Israeli history of conflict: the visit of President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem in November 1977 and the signing of the Israeli–Egyptian peace treaty in March 1979. Combining peace studies, cultural studies and discourse analysis, the article analyzes the response of Israeli most popular children’s periodicals to these dramatic peace events in real time, during the months in which they occurred. The article’s contribution to peace research lies in its ability to shed light on how intergenerational discourse conveys peace legacy, a relatively neglected arena in peace research. In doing so, it likewise focuses on the discursive ‘failures’ embedded in the Israeli peace discourse.
This thesis traces the origins of the Egypt-Israel peace process begun in the immediate aftermath of the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War. This American-brokered process led to the restoration of Egyptian land seized by Israeli in 1967 in exchange for a bilateral peace treaty, the first between Israel and an Arab state. Formal US-Egypt diplomatic relations were restored in 1974. By the time of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty in 1979, Egyptian defection from Soviet to American was complete, and Egypt had become estranged from the remainder of the Arab world, which refused to recognise, negotiate, or make peace with Israel. Recontextualising wartime and post-war strategic realignments with reference to developments during the first four and three-quarter years of the Nixon administration, from January 1969 – September 1973, this thesis sets presents a thoroughgoing revisionist account of the origins of this process. Tracing concepts and strategies implemented during and after the war in the antebellum period, the work demonstrates that the concepts implemented during the peace process were developed in negotiations involving Egypt, Israel, the Soviet Union, and the United States from early 1969, and forged into a coherent strategy by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during the period from October 1970 – September 1973. Reversing the usual interpretation that Sadat conformed to an American grand design in the aftermath over the October War, this thesis demonstrates instead that the United States collaborated and colluded in implementing an Egyptian strategy for a new regional order, premised on peace between Egypt and Israel and partnerships both between Washington and Jerusalem and between Washington and Cairo.
The Camp David Accords, September 5-17, 1978, were a momentous development in Middle East relations. For over 30 years Israel and her neighbors weathered periods of warfare and aggression, but when leaders from Egypt, Israel, and the United States descended on Camp David in the United States for two weeks of peace negotiations everything changed. Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin became the first leaders in the Middle East to negotiate peace after decades of war between the two countries. This research discerns the changes in Israeli public opinion on the peace process with Egypt that occurred between the 1973 Yom Kippur War (the last major conflict between Egypt and Israel), and the 1978 Camp David Accords. Understanding these changes helps bring to light new aspects of the peace process that have not received as much scholarly attention in the past—in particular, the changing discussion within Israeli society. This research examines the public debate in Israel prior to the accords, and specifically the role of the press in disseminating commonly held political beliefs of the general Israeli public. This project centers on analyzing articles from four major Israeli newspapers which represent different audiences in Israeli society to shed light on the changing perspectives held by Israelis from 1973 to 1978. Five major events were identified for this period: the 1973 war, the military disengagement after the war, the visit of Sadat to Jerusalem, before the Camp David conference, and after the Camp David Conference. Articles were selected from the various newspapers reflecting public opinion about each event. Each article was analyzed with special attention paid to changes in arguments, opinions, and messages over time from various political perspectives in Israel. Scholars claimed that Sadat’s famous 1977 visit to Jerusalem was the defining moment in the change of public opinion on peace with Egypt; however, my research shows a gradual shift in public opinion toward peace starting after the 1973 war. These changes in discourse about peace can enhance understanding of the effects of public discourse on foreign policy and peace negotiations in the Middle East; they could also help explain the tremendous difficulty in achieving lasting peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors.
Extant literature explains Egyptian successes and failures in the October 1973 War by Sadat’s restoration or abolition of ‘objective control’: when restoring ‘objective control’, Sadat succeeded; when abolishing it, he failed. However, Samuel Huntington’s theory cannot account for Sadat’s command performance, not because Sadat zigzagged between this theory’s extremes, but because he never thought or acted according to its recipe. I employ Eliot Cohen’s Supreme Command concepts to argue that Sadat’s command constituted an eccentric combination of military romanticism and politicization of war, whose paradox was reflected in the initial military successes and the achievement of Egypt’s strategic objectives despite the military failures by the war’s final stage.
In September of 1978, three nations came together at Camp David to create what ultimately became the first Middle Eastern peace treaty. Through a day-by-day account of the peace talks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright looks at how this landmark agreement was reached. Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David is the untold story of Carter’s push for peace, hard feelings felt by participants, and far-reaching implications of the agreement. By analyzing the actions of President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, he offers “hallmark insight” into those tense days. He’ll also analyze the ripple effects created by this tumultuous process. Wright is also the author of Going Clear, The Looming Tower, and a staff writer with The New Yorker.
Post-Event Discussion: Following the program, there will be a post-event discussion moderated by Resat Kesaba, Director of UW’s Jackson School of International Studies, as part of Town Hall’s Civic Roundtable Series. Stay for this 9 pm discussion to share thoughts on Wright’s lecture and learn about the Jackson School’s resources for staying up-to-date on current affairs in the Middle East.
Presented by: Town Hall, World Affairs Council, and University Book Store, as part of the Civics series. Series supported by The Boeing Company, the RealNetworks Foundation, and the True-Brown Foundation. Series media sponsorship provided by The Stranger and KUOW. Tickets: $5. Town Hall member benefits: Priority seating, discounted onsite book sales. Doors open: 6:30 p.m.
By May 1980, the peace process served as the opposition’s focal point for action against the regime. The Lawyers’ Syndicate joined the opposition and helped groups coordinate with one another. By summer 1981, these forces joined the other syndicates in the country to oppose the treaty with Israel. The opposition cited the Knesset’s passage of a law making Jerusalem the indivisible capital of Israel and the Begin government’s attacks on the PLO in Lebanon as evidence that Sadat had abandoned the Palestinians and was helping to promote Israeli aggression.
The regime’s continued support for normalizing relations with Israel contributed to the outbreak of the protests known as the Autumn of Fury. By September 1981, nearly 1,500 of Sadat’s critics, including the Coptic pope, the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the brother of the man who would murder Sadat, were arrested. Khalid al-Islambouli and three fellow Islamic fundamentalists assassinated Sadat on October 6, 1981, during a military parade commemorating the October War of 1973. Al-Islambouli later said that he was primarily motivated by the signing of the Camp David accords and the Egypt-Israel treaty of 1979.
This piece provides a first cut into the political consequences for non-democratic leaders pursuing cooperation with enduring rivals: they risk their political survival. Autocracies often use foreign antagonisms as a means to legitimate their rule. When longstanding conflicts are resolved, domestic challengers are provided with a focal point for organizing against the regime and presenting themselves as a patriotic alternative to the incumbent. Ensuing protests threaten to unseat the nominal leadership by unleashing a secondary bandwagon of opposition movements, or by promoting a coup or revolution. In Egypt, peacemaking with Israel led to the Autumn of Fury and the assassination of Anwar Sadat.
This piece indicates a few additional avenues for future research. To what extent are the paper’s results generalizable beyond the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli dispute? Do the domestic pressures examined here give dictators a bargaining advantage with their rivals (as arguments on hands-tying suggest), or do they make dictators seem unreliable and untrustworthy, especially when bargaining over objects that affect the future balance of power. A third direction to investigate is whether these domestic pressures increase the credibility of secret diplomacy. Dictators who are likely to be punished for pursuing cooperation send a costly signal of their benign intent when they “go private” or pursue secret diplomacy with an enemy. When they talk to an adversary behind closed doors, dictators are putting their domestic political survival in the enemy’s hands. If he chooses to make the content of the negotiations public, it could destroy the dictator’s hold on power.
Sadat’s principal goals before the 1973 war included trying to recover the Sinai Peninsula and gaining Washington’s support. Kissinger’s belief prior to the war was that Cairo would finally turn to the United States for help in negotiating a settlement with Jerusalem. Their predictions ultimately proved correct, but at the cost of the October 1973 war. Sadat consciously expected military loses, but the war was fought for a political objective that he shrewdly calculated he would achieve. In the end, Sadat was right and Israel returned to Egypt the territory lost in the 1967 war.
The historic significance of the Camp David accords lies in the fact that Egypt, the largest and the most important Arab state, acknowledged Israel’s legitimacy. In February 1980, Egypt and Israel established normal international relations, an event that deepened both regional and international controversy.