For many years the Arab world has been largely controlled by military dictatorships of one sort or another. They have gained support from the West, including the United States, by portraying themselves as the only feasible alternative to anti-western Islamist regimes, with a finger pointed at Iran. Of course, Iran is a different fish, starting with the fact that it's not Arab.
The revolution in Tunisia, which ran off its dictator, has set in motion a chain of events that is leading to pretty radical change of mindset in the Arab world. Hosni Mubarak has ruled Egypt for thirty years, keeping an iron grip and suppressing any opposition, and we have largely turned a blind eye. But the people have begun to speak. They're no longer afraid, and the crowds that gather in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria are not chanting anti-American slogans as they did in Tehran a generation ago. They simply want their freedom. And hopefully they will get it.
Now, here's the big question -- will Egypt take an Islamist turn? Well, for the most part this is not a religiously driven revolution. This is about jobs and about a government that is responsive to the needs of the people. It's about freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. Will there be an Islamic component to what comes out of this revolution? I would expect that the Muslim Brotherhood will play a role in what comes next. But, I think we need to recognize that Egypt is predominantly Muslim. But maybe the Muslim Brotherhood isn't the "Fundamentalist bogeyman" that they're portrayed as being. Last night I watched an interview with a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who had just escaped from prison. He said that while Egypt is predominantly Muslim, the rights of minorities should and will be respected. Why should we not take him at his word? Why not give the Muslim Brotherhood a chance to be a partner in building a modern, open Egyptian state. And if it works in Egypt, it can work elsewhere.
Yes, Israel is nervous, but a future built upon a partnership with a dictator does not bode well for lasting peace.
This is my hope and prayer