Prof. Rami Ginat
Department of Political Studies
Faculty of Social Sciences
Professor Rami Ginat is currently heading the Department of Political Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Israel. He took his BA and MA degrees at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Tel-Aviv University; and his Ph.D. degree in Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London. His fields of expertise are focused on the study and teaching of the modern Middle East. His work pays careful attention to the mutual feedback between politics and ideas; that is, examining ideology in view of changing political realities and vice versa. He published many books and articles on a variety of subjects related to the Great Powers and the Middle East, and Cold War studies with special reference to Egypt and Syria.
Egypt and the Struggle for Power in Sudan
For decades, the doctrine of the ‘Unity of the Nile Valley’ united Egyptians of a variety of political and nationalist backgrounds. Many Egyptians regarded Sudan as an integral part of their homeland, and therefore battled to rid the entire Nile Valley of British imperialism and unite its inhabitants under the Egyptian crown. Here, Rami Ginat provides a vital and important revised account of the history of Egypt’s colonialist struggle and their efforts to prove categorically that the Nile Valley constituted a single territorial unit. These were clustered around several dominant theoretical layers: history, geography, economy, culture and ethnography. This book, for both Middle Eastern and African historians, uses a mixture of Arabic and English sources to critically examine the central stages in the historical development of Egypt’s doctrine, concentrating on the defining decade (1943–1953) that first witnessed both the pinnacle of the doctrine’s struggle and the subsequent shattering of a consensual nationalist dream.
SYRIA AND THE DOCTRINE OF ARAB NEUTRALISM
This book examines the modern history of post-mandatory Syria. The evolution of the Syrian ideology and policy of neutralism since the early stages of the Cold War is explained, and the effects that Arab neutralism had on shaping Syria’s foreign policy and the shaping of its national identity are identified.
The phenomenon of Arab neutralism has never before been comprehensively investigated. The prevailing belief is that the formulation and realization of the policy of anti-alignment began only during Nasser’s first years in power in Egypt. However, Syria and the Doctrine of Arab Neutralism demonstrates that the roots of neutralism were already sown in Arab soil in the early 1940s, and that successive Syrian governments carved out this policy during the final stages of World War II.
A core issue in the analysis is the dynamic between ideology and policy. A conceptual framework is developed to explain the various patterns of neutralism that emerged, and the complex of relationships between features exhibited by Syria, the Arab world, and the Third World. The book makes extensive use of newly declassified material gleaned from archives in India, the former USSR, Poland, Britain, the United States and Israel; primary sources, studied and interpreted in the original Arabic, are also widely utilized.
“This publication provides a valuable, accessible, and note-worthy portrait of Syria’s political position within Arab countries, the third world, and the context of an East–West power struggle in post-mandate Syria … Ginat’s book has a number of strengths. First, the depth and breath of Ginat’s research is note-worthy … Second, the methodology Ginat chose, ‘one with mutual feedback between political history and the history of ideas (p. xiv)’, enriches his work and makes it compelling and accessible to a wide range of readers. Likewise Ginat’s grasp of the international arena and its manifold partitions and historical context is admirable … Third, Ginat’s articulation of Syria’s perspective is particularly valuable. Ginat captures the Syrian viewpoint of internal, regional, and international happenings. As such, he enunciates a rarely heard outlook, particularly outside of Syria. It should be noted that the Introduction provides an essential foundation in the theoretical bases of neutralism / non-alignment… Syria and the Doctrine of Arab Neutralism provides a detailed and insightful study of Arab neutralism and its manifestation in Syria. It is a significant contribution to our understandings of politics during the Cold War, the historic alliance of third world countries in the face of super powers, ideological movements, and Middle Eastern studies. It provides particularly telling lessons for students of and contemporary advocates for Syria and the Middle East” Nancy Elizabeth Currey (University of California‐Santa Barbara), Digest of Middle East Studies (2006)
A History of Egyptian Communism
Rami Ginat offers an entirely new reading of the evolution of communism in Egypt, including the central role of Egyptian Jews in both its development and its impact on Egypt and the wider Middle East.
Drawing deeply on previously inaccessible original sources, Ginat traces a story of intrigue and ideology from the late 1910s to the early 1950s. Many of his findings directly challenge the prevailing scholarship on the subject. His seminal work is also a major contribution to ongoing debates in Egypt today about the nature of Egyptian nationalism and the role of the country’s communist movements and leadership.
The Soviet Union and Egypt
Based on a wide range of multi-lingual first-rate primary sources, The Soviet Union and Egypt traces the roots of the Soviet involvement in the Middle East, generally, and in Egypt particularly, in the decade that followed World War II. The study first analyzes the relationship between Communism and Islam; and the ideological and political role played by the communists. It examines whether these ideological concerns had any influence on the formulation and consolidation of the special relations between communist Russia and Muslim Arab countries.
Ginat disproves the prevailing belief in both Soviet and Middle Eastern research that have maintained that Soviet interest and political activity in the Middle East under Stalin were marginal; and that a fully-fledged Middle Eastern policy crystallized only after Stalin’s death in 1953, attributing the change to Khrushchev’s ascendancy. The Soviet Union and Egypt clearly shows that the nature and quality of Soviet-Arab relations were not influenced by structural changes within the Soviet ruling elite. Towards the end of World War II, Soviet policy makers were fully aware of the growing international influence and prestige of the USSR. They appealed to Middle East nationalist groups to concentrate on the task of putting an end to western influence in the Middle East. To achieve that end, the Soviets nurtured relations with governments, which pursued anti-western policy. The place of ideology, that is, the export of the principles of worldwide communist revolution, was relegated to second place. At this historical time, Stalin followed the line of realpolitik in international affairs. Foreign policy was first and foremost based on utilitarian considerations derived from the early stages of the Cold War and the USSR’s growing interests in certain parts of the world, including the Middle East, which the Soviets considered as the southern gate of the USSR. The strengthening of Soviet influence and the improvement of its position in Egypt and the Middle East in the mid-1950s, as this book demonstrates, was a result of a gradual process of political, social and ideological developments in Egypt (and other Arab countries), beginning in the early 1940s. That is, Egyptian governments decided whether or not to tighten relations with the Soviets – basing their decisions purely on beneficiary considerations and utilitarian purposes, and the Soviets, usually, responded positively to these initiatives.
Egypt's Incomplete Revolution
This study charts the evolution of ideology in Nasser’s regime from the inarticulate and inconsistent experiments of the early 1950s to the detailed and systematic formulations of the 1960s. Simultaneously, it appraises the accommodation between official declarations and their practical implementation. The book explores the interrelationship between ideology and statecraft and examines the concrete role which Arab Socialism played in the Nasirist state. The doctrine was highly derivative of foreign “nationalist” socialism – imported from abroad by intellectuals and politicians, but adapted to local Egyptian conditions. The study also deals with Soviet ideological and strategic response to Egypt’s “socialist experiment” in the 1960s. The short-lived, but nonetheless formidable, success of Arab socialism owes much to the versatility of intellectuals, who served as convecting rods between the ruling élite and the masses. The author has chosen to concentrate on Lutfi-al-Khuli – a leading member of the foremost intellectual circle associated with the Nasirist regime – whose significant contribution has been neglected in the literature.
Egypt and the Second Palestinian Intifada
With the outbreak of the Palestinian Intifadat al-Aqsa in September 2000 that followed the failure of the Camp David II summit, the chain of belligerent events took Egypt by surprise. Facing a dilemma in its search for an appropriate policy towards the Palestinian–Israeli escalation, this study argues that Egypt’s policy towards the second Intifada may best be understood by scrutinizing several circles of reference that directly affected its policymaking process throughout the long years of the bloody Israeli–Palestinian conflict. These circles of reference comprise interests and calculations derived from Egyptian internal issues; regional factors – Egypt’s role and position in the Arab world in general, and its relations with the Palestinians in particular; Egypt’s relations with Israel; and its strategic ties with the United States. The growing strength and the expansion of the global Islamic terrorist network that challenges the stability of the present Arab regimes constitutes a lynchpin at every layer.
Egypt’s foreign policy is based on Realpolitik, that is, on pragmatic and material factors rather than on ideological or moral considerations. Safeguarding its national interests is Egypt’s prime goal. In this regard, Egypt considers the peace with Israel as a strategic national asset. For Mubarak’s regime, the abrogation of the peace treaty with Israel has never been an option, even during the worst days of the Intifada. Mubarak has shown exemplary restraint throughout the conflict. Despite occasional harsh anti-Israeli statements aimed mainly at easing internal and external pressures, Mubarak’s regime can, on the whole, be seen as a responsible and stabilizing factor vehemently striving to prevent regional escalation. This study is based primarily on Egyptian sources as well as interviews and conversations with senior members of the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies. It also draws on other primary and secondary sources in Arabic, Hebrew and English. The book is essential reading for all scholars involved and engaged with the Israel–Arab conflict.
From 40:44 to 58:01
Prof. Rami Ginat in his office