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I FEEL really worried about the Egyptian chaos and turmoil.

The truth is, at first when it all started I felt somewhat conflicted. It is always inspiring to see people of the street seeking change, uniting against the establishment to defy the status quo, to improve life, free the oppressed and generally shake things up to promote civil rights, free speech and a stronger economy.

But since Egypt is next door to Israel, and we all know the kind of new leadership, i.e., the Muslim Brotherhood, such an era would usher in, in this case I felt conflicted.

Of course, it didn’t help that so many negative changes have been swiftly taking shape all around Israel, converging all at once.

Hezbollah has all but commandeered Lebanon’s government. It is not officially ruling Lebanon, but Lebanon’s government clearly sympathizes with Hezbollah.

Al Jazeera, the primary Muslim media in the Middle East, shared its decision to publish the PA WikiLeaks, a move which could be the pivotal in destabilizing the already tenuous Palestinian Authority,  providing the perfect opening for militant Hamas to take over.

The Egyptian riots were inspiring the Jordanians, too . . . scary stuff.

By now, with all the bloodied faces, the wounded, the stone throwing,the knife wielding and the street battles, the Egyptian chaos which erupted like a volcano last week as a peaceful, strong and joyous protest, is beginning to look more like civil war, the pro-Mubarak vs. anti-Mubarak factions.

The anti-Mubarak faction is not accepting Mubarak’s concession to resign at the conclusion of his current term. They want him out. And fast. They want him out now. Nothing short of literally overthrowing Mubarak’s government will satisfy them.

Meanwhile, the pro-Mubarak faction is escalating by responding with violence.

AT first it seemed empowering to see thousands if not millions of people join together to  protest poverty, hunger, oppression and unfairness. It seemed noble to witness that populist strength. It reinforced something deep inside every human being that every person does matter, and that we the people really can make the difference.

But if you think about some of the major revolutions in history, although at first it seemed like the power of the people was catalyzing change, that was not the permanent change that was achieved.

Take the Russian Revolution. Populist anger galvanized the revolution, advocating change and protesting economic and civil oppression. The revolutionaries aspired to something better. By driving the revolution they did create an opening for something new. The Russian Revolution succeeded in overthrowing the Tsars and brought an end to the Tsarist rule.

But the radical populists were not those who rose to power after the upheaval and overthrow of the government. The revolution only served to usher in the Bolshevik party of Lenin and the cruel era of Marxist and socialist communism.

Change is good — depending on what the content of the change is. Change can be dangerous, too.

What about the Iranian Revolution of the 1970’s that succeeded in overthrowing the Shah and replacing its monarchy?  The students galvanizing that revolution succeeded in eliminating one corrupt regime, only to catapult Ayatollah Khomeini into power and establish the new Islamic Republic, whose corrupt dictatorship is amply in evidence in Iran today.

WILL change in Egypt be different? It probably won’t. That is what worries me.

Although the Egyptian state is no “choir boy,” the fact remains that Israel has lived side by side with Egypt since the peace agreement signed by Begin and Sadat, in a state of cold peace, for over three decades now.

Israelis tour Egypt on a regular basis. They are a source of much of Egypt’s tourist economy.

Of course, under that peace agreement, Israel gave over a crown jewel, the entire Sinai peninsula, to Egypt for nothing tangible in return, but hey, for better or for worse, a cold peace in the Middle East is worth a lot.

And the truth is, Egypt was ousted from the Arab League for singing this peace treaty. No small price to pay in the Islamic world.

I fear that whatever the changes brought about by the spirit on Egypt’s streets we have all been witness to, Egypt will go in the direction of just another Muslim Brotherhood state.

Truly scary.

Copyright © 2011 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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