Egypt looms largely in the Christian psyche. Many Christians, in their heart of hearts, associate Egypt today with the Egypt of biblical times: a bastion of corruption, idolatry and enslavement of Israelis, God’s chosen people. Some American Christians, many of them who consider themselves spiritual heirs to Israel, call upon this scriptural reference when asserting the legitimacy of Israel and supporting an American foreign policy in the Middle East that favors Israeli interests above those of Arab nations.

But this thinking is misguided in a couple of respects. The Egypt and Israel of today have almost nothing in common with their biblical analogs. Egypt, despite its long-serving dictator Hosni Mubarak, is a modern nation with a capitalist economy and a relatively educated population. Although an overwhelmingly Muslim country, it has played a moderating role in the Middle East. It is home to a sizable population of Christians and Jews, who practice their religions in relative freedom. This is no Egypt of the pharaohs.

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