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    Posted February 13, 2011 at 3:45 am

    Egypt: In Other Words

    Some comments from the blogs

    Arabs do “get it”
    ♦♦ Egyptians are so proud. And we are proud for them. They gave us the answer to the racist prejudices that “Arabs have their specific culture, they don’t get it”. Well, they got it. This is universalism and it’s the best argument against all that trash about clash of civilisations. The moment you fight tyranny you have solidarity, not clash of civiliations.  Slavoj Zizek

    Islamophobia exposed
    ♦♦ In the case of the Middle East, conflict was seen as rooted in a cultural failure of Islam to adapt itself to modernity, rather than a political aspiration to freedom from regimes the West was backing. The Egyptian revolution has finally demonstrated in practice that this cultural assumption no longer holds. Popular sovereignty, not God’s sovereignty, has been the basis of the revolution. Muslims and Christians have marched together on the streets. The slogans have been universal demands for rights, dignity and social justice. … the confused response of conservatives reflects the fact that their framing of the Middle East as a hotbed of fanaticism has been revealed to be a myth. And they are exposed for backing an autocrat for narrow strategic reasons linked to protecting Israel.  Arun Kundnani in Islamophobia Today

    What scares Israel
    ♦♦ The people of Egypt and Tunisia have shown us that we can bring forth massive change without the use of military force and maybe this is what really frightens Israel and its supporters. Existence is Resistence

    The wrong side of the barricades
    ♦♦ From a moral perspective … supporting the Egyptian revolution is a no-brainer. How can any decent human being not be thrilled by the prospect of this liberation? …  I would argue that the ambivalence that some Jews are feeling can itself be turned into an argument against a Jewish state. For if the price to pay for a Jewish state is acquiescing in tyranny and injustice for reasons of realpolitik – as Israel did with apartheid South Africa – then arguably that price is too high, especially if you feel, as I do, that there are alternatives to a Jewish state for the survival and thriving of the Jewish people and its heritage. Not to support the Egyptian revolution for fear that it may turn out bad for Israel (and what that means is subject to debate) is shortsighted politically and unjustifiable morally. [Some say] With monarchs and tyrants one can come to terms. But what if the Arab public is opposed to the existence of Israel? Why should Israelis support democratization of their enemies? To which I reply: the Jews should have thought of that before they established the state of Israel. If they could not establish a state that would be able to live in peace with its Arab neighbors, but decided to press on with an “Iron Wall” mentality, then they are reaping what they sowed. Jeremiah Haber, Magnes Zionist

    Arab leaders who repressed their own people betrayed the Palestinians
    ♦♦ The revolutionaries of Egypt, and before them Tunisia, have exposed through deeds —  not merely words — the leaders who are tyrants towards their own people, while humiliatingly subservient to foreign powers. They have shown the impotence of empty slogans that manipulate animosity towards Israel to justify a fake Arab unity, which in turn serves only to mask sustained oppression and the betrayal of Arab societies and the aspirations of the Palestinian people. The era of using the Palestinian cause as a pretext for maintaining martial laws and silencing dissent is over. The Palestinians have been betrayed, not helped, by leaders who practice repression against their own people. It is no longer sufficient for regimes in Syria and Iran to claim support for Palestinian resistance in order to stifle freedom of expression and to shamelessly tread on human rights in their own countries.  Equally, it is no longer acceptable for the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas to cite their record in resisting Israel when justifying their suppression of each other and the rest of the Palestinian people. Young Palestinians are responding to the message of the movement and embracing the idea that combatting internal injustice – whether practised by Fatah or Hamas —  is a prerequisite for the struggle to end Israeli occupation and not something to be endured for the sake of that struggle. In Ramallah, the protesters repeated a slogan calling for the end of internal Palestinian divisions (which, in Arabic, rhymes with the Egyptian call for the end to the regime), as well as demanding an end to negotiations with Israel — sending a clear message that there will be no room left for the Palestinian Authority if it continues to rely on such negotiations. Lamis Andoni

    Defeating Israel’s apartheid will be easier without the PA
    ♦♦ There are signs that the American street is awakening to the abuses marshalled by American government “aid” in the region. The revolution has ignited discussion in online chat forums and op-eds about why Americans are providing billions to a brutally despotic regime.  … Human Rights Watch issued the following statement in response to the crackdowns against protesters: “The US and the EU should suspend aid to Palestinian Authority security forces unless the Palestinian authorities take appropriate measures to end such abuses and allow Palestinians to enjoy their rights to freedom of assembly and expression. … The challenge of defeating Israeli apartheid and calling for equal rights in Palestine/Israel will become that much easier in the absence of apartheid’s insulation authority” Ahmed Moor, Egypt’s Lessons for Palestine,

    The PA more precarious than ever
    ♦♦ Some people showered the crowd with sweets, as fireworks burst overhead. Everyone took pictures, recording a moment of victory they felt was made by the Egyptian people on behalf of all of us. … Arab people everywhere now imagine themselves as Tunisians or Egyptians. And every Arab ruler imagines himself as Ben Ali or Mubarak. … No amount of “security assistance” (training, tear gas, weapons), financial aid, or intelligence cooperation from the United States or France can withstand a population that has decided it has had enough. These regimes’ room for maneuver has shrunk even if the sorts of uprisings seen in Egypt and Tunisia are not imminent elsewhere. … And in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority (PA) of Mahmoud Abbas is in a more precarious situation than ever. Its loss of legitimacy is so thorough — especially after the revelations in the Palestine Papers —  that it exists only thanks to the protection of the Israeli occupation, US and EU training of its repressive security forces, and massive EU funding to pay the salaries of its bloated bureaucracy. Ali Abunimah

    Class struggle that inspired April 6 Movement
    ♦♦  The April 6 Youth Movement was a group formed originally to support a massive demonstration on April 6, 2008, in the factory city of Mahalla el-Kubra to protest low wages, high food prices, unemployment and police brutality.  …  The demonstration at Mahalla drew tens of thousands of workers to the streets. The police opened fire, killing two people. And the emerging youth movement posted videos, most likely shot with mobile phones, on Facebook and YouTube. … Here in Egypt, strangely enough, I am seeing a rebirth of the focus on social justice that has haunted me since high school in Queens. It is a focus born of the same spirit that led me to join the youth wing of the old New York Liberal Party, much of whose most influential cadre came from the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, with its predominantly Jewish and democratic socialist tradition, a secular, even agnostic political tradition that is derived to a great degree from the imperative to seek justice in Judaism. This may be a strange route shaped by my Jewish origins …  But here, in the midst of the rebellion of Tahrir Square, it is the true focus of the revolt and the route I have found.  Abdallah Schleifer 

    Egypt “not ready for democracy”, says Israel minister
    ♦♦ Un-named Israel cabinet minister: “We believe that Egypt is going to overcome the current wave of demonstrations”, s/he told TIME Magazine. The minister added: “I’m not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process”, suggesting that instead of an open and free elections, what the Egyptians really need is “a process” that should “take generations”; and concluded with wishful thinking: “We do believe the regime is strong enough to overcome it”.

    Israel and PA plan crackdown in West Bank
    ♦♦ The regional intelligence network coordinated from Cairo and Tel Aviv has been damaged, perhaps fatally. Yuval Diskin, the head of Israel’s internal intelligence agency, Shabak, said the rules of the game have changed. Accordingly, it is expected that there will be an urgent review of the situation in the West Bank to pre-empt any change there. The Palestinian Authority security forces will be faced with more demands, which, ultimately, may prove counterproductive. Students and academics can expect increased police harassment; there are currently 70 students from the Najah National University in Nablus held in detention in PA jails for political reasons. If Diskin’s remarks are to be taken seriously, there will be greater censorship and control over internet and cyber facilities. Workers are still being dismissed because of their alleged political affiliations and teachers in Hebron are locked in a dispute with the Fayyad government over cuts to their wages. Lawyers are withholding services because of intimidation and attacks by the security forces. Meanwhile, civilians are still being tried before military courts, as in Egypt under Mubarak. With this combustible mix it will take a miracle to prevent the near-inevitable people’s revolt.  Middle East Monitor Commentary

    Jews say: we are with you in spirit
    ♦♦ Jews for Justice for Palestinians extends its support and solidarity to the brave people of Egypt, campaigning for freedom, democracy and human rights, the inalienable  entitlement of all peoples.  We are inspired by the courage of the people on the streets and are with them in spirit. Human rights are indivisible. May the struggle succeed.

    Israel’s military: “we hadn’t budgeted for this”
    ♦♦ Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz: Israel’s “concrete strategic assumptions were liquefied almost overnight”, representing a “colossal psychological blow” and a reminder that Israel is “territorially and demographically dwarfed by the seething entities arrayed around us”. “The Israeli government is freaking out,” said Dr Shmuel Bachar, at the Israel Institute for Policy and Strategy. “For the past 30 years we have depended on Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. Now, suddenly, we have rediscovered the existence of something called an Egyptian public, the existence of which we’ve vigorously tried to ignore.” Israel has for decades budgeted on the assumption that it will not have to fight a war on the Egyptian front, according to Giora Eiland, a retired general and former head of the army’s planning branch.

    White House frightened that Mubarak might leave, even more terrified he might not
    ♦♦ But the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters. Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets —  over which they had received the fatal orders —  to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.  Tantawi and another general — believed to be the commander of the Cairo military area – called Washington, according to a senior Egyptian officer, to pass on the news to Robert Gates at the Pentagon. It must have been a sobering moment. For days, the White House had been grimly observing the mass demonstrations in Cairo, fearful that they would turn into a mythical Islamist monster, frightened that Mubarak might leave, even more terrified he might not. American and European leaders who rejoiced at the fall of communist dictatorships have sat glumly regarding the extraordinary and wildly hopeful events in Cairo – a victory of morality over corruption and cruelty – with the same enthusiasm as many East European dictators watched the fall of their Warsaw Pact nations. Calls for stability and an “orderly” transition of power were, in fact, appeals for Mubarak to stay in power … rather than a ringing endorsement of the demands of the overwhelming pro-democracy movement that should have struck him down. Robert Fisk



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