Israel and the Coup in Egypt

by Yossi Schwartz
Internationalist Socialist League
RCIT-Section in Israel/Occupied Palestine

It is a common knowledge that the Israeli government supports the military coup on 3rd July in Egypt. The senior Israeli writer, Yossi Melman, wrote in one of Israel’s main newspapers, the Jerusalem Post, in this connection:

“Israel’s primary concerns regarding Egypt are the possible fall of the military regime or a descent into civil war, either of which could render null the peace treaty that has brought relative calm to the border for more than 30 years. (…) Israel has been engaging in some diplomatic lobbying, particularly in Washington and a number of European capitals, with the intent of persuading those governments against rushing to step up their condemnation of the latest Egyptian military operation to remove the pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters from the streets of Cairo and other cities. Since the Egyptian military (…) ousted the Islamist government of president Mohamed Morsi six weeks ago, Israel has been secretly maneuvering via friendly nations, deploying heavy diplomatic leverage to stop Western governments, first and foremost the United States, from denouncing the overthrow by the Egyptian security forces, deterring them from calling it a ‘massacre’. Israel’s fear is that such condemnation would weaken the new military-backed Egyptian government, strengthen the will of the Muslim Brotherhood to continue its policy of brinkmanship.”

Not only Melman and the Jerusalem Post have observed that imperialist Apartheid-Israel is supporting the coup but does the international Zionist news agency – the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. It wrote on August 19:

“The Israeli government is pressing its efforts to convince the United States and the European Union to support the military-backed government in Egypt. The New York Times reported late Sunday that Israeli ambassadors in Washington and the European capitals will lobby foreign ministers, and that Israeli leaders will urge diplomats to see the Israeli viewpoint that the Egyptian military will prevent a further deterioration of the situation in Cairo. The newspaper cited an unnamed ‘senior Israeli official involved in the effort.’ ‘If you insist on big principles, then you will miss the essential — the essential being putting Egypt back on track at whatever cost,” the official told the Times. “First, save what you can, and then deal with democracy and freedom and so on. At this point it’s army or anarchy.’“ (2)

The Failure of the Left

The question that those on the left who supported the coup have to answer themselves is how it comes that they and Israel cheer the 3rd July military coup. These left groups include not only the reformist Egyptian Communist party and the Communist Party of Israel but most tendencies on the left.

Today some of these centrists like the Revolutionary Socialists (RS) in Egypt, the British SWP and the IMT led by Alan Woods that supported the coup on July 3, distance themselves from their own position on the quiet. While this is of course better than continuing support for the mass murderous military dictatorship, it is nothing to be particularly proud of since today even the United Nations and various imperialist states have to raise their hypercritical concern about their Egypt ally’s “lack of democracy and human rights“. Nevertheless, they are both incapable neither to explain their U-turn nor to arrive to the correct tactical conclusions today.

In their recent statement, the RS leaders criticize the left in Egypt that supported the coup.

“Many who described themselves as liberals and leftists have betrayed the Egyptian Revolution, led by those who took part in Al-Sisi’s government. They have sold the blood of the martyrs to whitewash the military and the counter-revolution. These people have blood on their hands.” (3)

This is like a thief pointing to others and accusing them of theft. It was the RS leaders themselves who only a few weeks ago published several statements about the 3rd July events in which they praised the military coup as a “popular uprising”, a “height of democracy” and “a revolution of millions”, where they denounced the characterization of the 3rd July putsch as a “military coup” as a “US-Brotherhood plan” and where they condemned the protests of the Muslim Brotherhood against the military dictatorship as “the biggest danger that faces the revolution”! (4)

Even today – after the mass slaughter on 14th August – the RS leaders refuse to defend the protests of the Muslim Brotherhood against the dictatorship. Quite the opposite, they proudly proclaim: “Neither did we defend for a single day the sit-ins by the Brotherhood.” (5) How can so-called socialists even today – when thousands of activists against the dictatorship are slaughtered – refuse to support this resistance against the dictatorship and join forces with them against this murderous regime?!

All this shows the degree of extraordinary degeneration of the RS and the SWP are going through. Similarly the IMT even today refuse to form a united front with the Moslem Brotherhood against the coup on the ground that the Muslim Brotherhood and the army are equally reactionaries: “They represent two sides of the same reactionary, counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie.” (5)

What they refuse to see is that today the main dangerous enemy of the revolution in Egypt is the army and its murderous regime. While the Morsi government acted as a block against the revolution, the present dictatorship of the army is moving to crash the revolution. What is necessary is to form a united front with the Moslem Brotherhood and the Anti-Coup Alliance without giving them any political support.

The Israeli government understands this point and for this reason Israel is lobbying for the coup.

The Egypt Revolution and Counterrevolution is a decisive test for Marxists!

Today the central test for revolutionaries is the Arab revolution and the political events in Egypt in particular. Those who supported the coup and refuse today to fight against it with a revolutionary program and the method of the Leninist united front are an obstacle for the socialist revolution as the only way out of the Egyptian crisis.

We in the RCIT can proudly say that we supported first the mass movement against the Morsi government with a revolutionary program and without giving any political support for the liberals a la ElBaradei and Tamarod. When most on the left cheered the 3rd July military coup as “an advance of the Revolution” or downplayed its counter-revolutionary danger, the RCIT warned against the danger of a military coup and, after the 3rd July, we fully understood the character of the military-imposed regime as well as the setback it meant for the working class. We immediately declared that the al-Sisi regime has become the main enemy. We elaborated a revolutionary answer for this new situation where the working class was in the defensive and where the revolutionary-democratic demands – including the slogan of the Constitutional Assembly – became particularly important. On a programmatic and tactical level the RCIT has passed this important test. (6)

We urge revolutionaries in Egypt and around the world to debate with us the important lesson of the revolution and counter-revolution in Egypt in order to build a strong revolutionary organization in Egypt and international.

* Defend the pro-Morsi demonstrations without giving political support to their leadership. For a broad united front (including Islamists) in defense of democratic rights! For mass action committees to organize the resistance! For armed self-defense units! For a general strike against the military regime!

* Fight for a Revolutionary Constitutional Assembly elected and controlled by the working people and protected by armed popular militias! Prepare the struggle for a workers government, based on the poor peasantry and the urban poor committed to the expropriation of the multinationals, big capital and banks under workers control as well as to the replacement of the bourgeois state apparatus by workers and peasant organs.

* Advance the independent organization of the working class by building a rank and file movement inside the trade unions against the pro-regime or the pro-Morsi leaderships! For a new Workers Party based on a revolutionary program!

* For international solidarity of the workers movement with their brothers and sisters in Egypt! Support their resistance against the military dictatorship! For solidarity demonstrations and protest pickets in front of the Egypt embassies! For material support for the protest movement against the regime! The international workers movement must organize actions to hit the military dictatorship in Egypt!

* Forward in building a revolutionary party in Egypt and internationally!


(1) Yossi Melman: Israel supports military rule in Egypt, Jerusalem Post, 16 Aug 2013.

(2) Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Israel lobbying U.S., EU to support Egypt’s military government, August 19, 2013.

(3) Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt): Down with military rule! Down with Al-Sisi, the leader of the counter-revolution! 14 August 2013.

(4) See e.g. “What happened on June 30 was, without the slightest doubt, the historic beginning of a new wave of the Egyptian revolution, the largest wave since January 2011. (…) What has happened in Egypt is the height of democracy, a revolution of millions to directly topple the ruler.” (Statement by the Revolutionary Socialists organisation in Egypt: Four days that shook the world, July 4, 2013, and “But the stubbornness, stupidity and criminality of the US-backed Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Badie, its General Guide, open the terrifying horizons of civil war. This can only be stopped by millions coming into the squares and streets to protect their revolution. They must abort the US-Brotherhood plan to portray the Egyptian Revolution as a military coup. The popular uprising of 30 June threw the Muslim Brotherhood out of power, and its plan is now clear. The Brotherhood is seeking to take over the squares in order to project an image of false popularity for the president who was removed by the uprising. It may even be aiming to negotiate his return to power with the support of the US and other imperialist powers in order to accomplish what Mursi promised to do for them in Syria and the region. Leaving the squares to Mursi and his supporters today is the biggest danger that faces the revolution.” (Statement from the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt: Victory to the 30 June revolution: Statement of the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt, 6 July 2013.)

(4) Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt): Down with military rule! Down with Al-Sisi, the leader of the counter-revolution! 14 August 2013.

(5) See Francesco Merli: Egypt: SCAF and Muslim Brotherhood – Two sides of reaction, IMT, 16 August 2013.

(6) See the numerous RCIT statements and articles since early July:

* RKOB-Leaflet: Down with the Military Dictatorship in Egypt!

* Nina Gunić: Austria: Solidarity Demonstration in Vienna against the military dictatorship in Egypt, 18.8.2013.

* RCIT: Egypt: International Solidarity against the Army Crackdown!, 14.8.2013.

* RCIT: Egypt: Appeal for solidarity after steel workers arrested by army, 13.8.2013.

* Michael Pröbsting: The Coup d’État in Egypt and the Bankruptcy of the Left’s “Army Socialism”. A Balance Sheet of the coup and another Reply to our Critics (LCC, WIVP, SF/LCFI), 8.8.2013.

* Yossi Schwartz: Egypt: Mobilize Resistance against the reactionary military regime!, 27.7.2013.

* RCIT: Revolution and Counterrevolution in Egypt (Editorial for RevCom#12), 22.7.2013.

* Michael Pröbsting: The Military’s Coup d’État in Egypt: Assessment and Tactics, 17.7.2013.

* Yossi Schwartz: Egypt: The U.S. Support for the Military Coup and the Left’s ignorance. Notes on the role of US imperialism in the military’s coup d’état and the failure of the Egypt left, 11.7.2013.

* RCIT: Egypt: Down with the Military Coup d’État! Prepare Mass Resistance! 8.7.2013.

* RCIT: Tasks of the Revolution in Egypt, 2.7.2013. All articles except the two latest one have been published in the RCIT’s international journal Revolutionary Communism No. 12 (July/August 2013).

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