Gary Ackerman released a statement this week in support of the Egyptian people, stating that Hosni Mubarak should transfer power to a transitional government immediately. According to Ackerman, that includes the halting of aid money being sent to the country. Strong words from the Congressman—stronger, even, than the initial response from President Obama himself, who has been hesitant to directly call for Mubarak’s departure from office.
There seems to be a definite contingent of congressmen taking a hard line against Mubarak in the press that doesn’t particularly jive with the administration’s official stance. This is an interesting position for Obama to be in: having members of Congress like Gary Ackerman , Keith Ellison or Ron Paul say Mubarak should step down immediately could lead people to ask why the president won’t say it outright himself, calling his credibility into question. He’s called for an “orderly transition,” but what Ackerman and others seem to think, and what the Egyptian people know all too well, is that the country seems to have moved past the point of “orderly.”
Ackerman, the former chairman of the subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, also made his way to the Parker/Spitzer blog (which is a thing that exists) in order to reinforce that opinion. On the surface, this seems like an interesting break for Ackerman with the Israeli government. Ackerman has been a supporter of Israel in the House for some time, and according to a Feb. 1st New York Times op-ed by Yossi Klein Halevi, many in Israel have trepidations, believing that the only outcome of collapse of the Mubarak regime is the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ackerman’s stance on Egypt, as well as that of a number of neoconservatives, seems to indicate a sort of cognitive dissonance between American politicians and the Israeli government.
(Related: The Atlantic has this list of politicians who spent time with Egyptian military officials last year. Not sure what to say about it, exactly, but as long as we’re talking about Ackerman and Egypt, it might be worth noting that the Queens and Long Island representative “accompanied [an] Egyptian military delegation to their appointments.”)