In the old days, when the Israeli military bombed and shelled Palestinians and sought to destroy their society, Hosni Mubarak used a well-worn formula, fully abetting Israeli actions while uttering pro-Palestine platitudes. Occasionally, when huge protests rocked the streets, he green-lighted theatrical gestures such as his wife heading a relief convoy to Gaza in 2002, and his son fronting a delegation to Beirut when Israel bombed Lebanon in 2006.
Today, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has not only steered clear of a single expression of token solidarity with Palestinians. He and his media creatures have actually ventriloquized Israeli talking points: Hamas is responsible for the staggering civilian death toll; Hamas is a terrorist organization; Hamas ought to be tried for war crimes. One of Sisi’s shills even instigated a diplomatic crisis with Morocco when she attacked King Mohammed VI for allowing Islamists to form the government, prompting an official apology by the Egyptian ambassador to Morocco.
What accounts for this baffling state of affairs? Mubarak’s and Sisi’s are both dictatorial regimes, and Sisi is seen as the logical heir to Mubarak (albeit rudely interrupted by the evanescent Egyptian revolution). But why is Sisi going out of his way to advertise his identity of interest with Israel? Surely it’s better for him to be circumspect and keep up appearances?