Sadat’s Genius in His Decision for War and Peace
Camp David Accords: Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat, US President Jimmy Carter, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin sit together in the sunshine outside the White House on March 26, 1979, ready to sign the peace treaty based on the Camp David Accords of September 1978. (Photo by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Sadat’s Genius in His Decision for War and Peace

Al-Ahram, Egypt, October 22

The brave decision taken by President Anwar Sadat to wage war against Israel on October 6, 1973 was a genius decision not only because it erased Egypt’s shame of defeat and allowed it to recover its lands, but also because it paved the path toward peace. Thanks to Sadat’s extraordinary vision, a bloody conflict with a hateful enemy, which lasted 30 years, finally came to an end in 1978, at Camp David. In 1977, Sadat spoke before the Egyptian parliament and announced his readiness to visit the Knesset and meet with his Israeli counterparts. In doing so, he opened the door to negotiations between Egypt and Israel for a partial Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, and to cease-fire and disengagement negotiations held under the auspices of the United Nations and the UN Security Council. Unfortunately, Sadat’s assassination in October 1981, during a celebration of Egypt’s victory, didn’t allow him to reap the fruit of the seeds he had sown. Sadat’s tireless efforts paved the way to negotiations followed by peace, because he was fully aware that the results of bloody conflicts and wars are the destruction of society and the economy. Directing all of Egypt’s economic resources to arms dealers and manufacturers in order to sustain a long-term war was going to be detrimental to Egypt. He therefore decided to shift Arab-Israeli relations from the stage of stagnation to the stage of moderation. He hoped to bring an end to the Israeli occupation of Arab lands and the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people. He dreamed of achieving prosperity and stability for all Arab peoples. And he hoped that his fellow Arab rulers would agree with him about moving away from conflict and toward peace. Indeed, the Arab world was in a state of permanent war with Israel since the catastrophe of the Palestine War in 1948. The Arab victory over Israel in 1973 marked an end to this chapter. Yet the Arab response to Sadat’s initiative was to boycott and isolate Egypt from the Arab nations. This supported the formation of the rejectionist front led by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who threatened to topple any Arab leader cooperating with Egypt. In fact, as a result of this boycott, the headquarters of the League of Arab States was moved from Cairo to Tunisia. So, after the Arabs failed him, Sadat had no choice but to make peace unilaterally with Israel, with the support of the Egyptian public. He was not deterred and, under the leadership of US President Jimmy Carter, traveled to Camp David to conclude the treaty with Israel. With one stroke of the pen, Sadat brought an end to a bitter conflict with an enemy, and put Egypt on a path of growth and modernization. – Nasr Muhammad Ghobashi (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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