On a beautiful sunny day in March 1979, as thousands of Egyptians awaited in anticipation, a plane landed in Cairo. Moments later, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat stepped out, welcomed by thunderous cheers from an overjoyed crowd. He had just returned to his country from Washington D.C., where five days earlier he had signed a historic treaty with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and U.S. President Jimmy Carter, bringing an end to three decades of war and hostilities between Israelis and Egyptians.
Egypt had good reason to celebrate the treaty. Since 1948, the country joined other Arab states and went to war with Israel on four occasions: the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the 1956 War, the 1967 Six-Day War, and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. All were ultimately unsuccessful in fully defeating Israel, and Egypt, of all the Arab states, experienced the heaviest losses, both in human casualties and financially. It was Sadat's deep-seated resolve and the will of the Egyptian people that forged the path to the unprecedented normalization of relations between Israel and an Arab country.
Together with Begin, Sadat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978 for their efforts in negotiating the peace treaty. Sadat was applauded by leaders of democratic nations across the world, and he opened up a new chapter of Egyptian foreign relations, establishing the country as a modernized and stable power in then the historically tumultuous Middle East.
As with many historic moments that inspired significant change, not everyone was supportive of Sadat's peace efforts. Only two years after the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, President Sadat was assassinated by members of an Islamic fundamentalist group, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, in October 1981. Sadat appeared to have suffered from a misrepresented image for much of his military and political career.