Monday, October 20th, 2014

Fact-checking claims on Egypt and Israel

An anti-government protester waves an Egyptian flag in Cairo on Friday
An anti-government protester waves an Egyptian flag in Cairo on Friday

All eyes are on the Middle East this week as Egyptians continue to protest against the authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak. We checked three different statements about the Middle East on our Truth-O-Meter.

Glenn Beck told listeners that conspirators of the 9/11 attacks were once part of the Egyptian opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood.

"So the Muslim Brotherhood, they're nothing to worry about," Beck began sarcastically, adding that Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were part of the group before they formed or joined al-Qaida.

We found that Beck left out part of the story -- like that the two groups hate each other. We examined al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood in detail and concluded his statement was Half True.

We also looked at a statement from Ross Douthat, a conservative columnist  for The New York Times. Douthat said Mubarak was not as good a U.S. ally as some believe. "By visiting imprisonment, torture and exile upon Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Mubarak foreclosed any possibility of an Islamic revolution in his own country," Douthat wrote. "Under his rule, Egypt received more American dollars than any country besides Israel. For many young Egyptians, restless amid political and economic stagnation, it's been a short leap from hating their dictator to hating his patrons in the United States."

We checked Douthat's numbers on whether Egypt has received more aid from the U.S. than any country besides Israel. The numbers backed him up, and we rated his statement True.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., meanwhile, said this week that the United States can't keep sending foreign aid to other countries if it wants to balance the budget. He proposed ending foreign aid, including to allies such as Israel.

Paul said he offered the cuts even though he considered himself a supporter of Israel. "They're an important ally, but I also think that their per capita income is greater than probably three-fourths of the rest of the world," Paul said. "Should we be giving free money or welfare to a rich nation? I don't think so."

We checked whether Israel's per capita income "is greater than probably three-fourths of the rest of the world." We found that he was well-within the parameters, and rated his statement True.

Earlier this week, we looked at a statement from the Egyptian ambassador to the United States Sameh Shoukry. Shouukry said on This Week with Christiane Amanpour that in the past 20 years, Egypt has made "great strides" in political and democratic reform. We looked at Egypt's human rights record and found little if any progress over the last 20 years. We rated his statement False.