In his post in +972mag.com entitled, Can Israel only survive in a Dictatorial Middle East, Yuval Ben Ami makes an appropriate comparison between the Israeli people's ostrych attitude, in regard to many of the abuses towards the Palestinians "in the name of the sacro-sanct Land of Milk & Honey State Security in " and the children of Omelas (from the novel “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by American author Ursuala Q. Leguinn) who also prefer to ignore one big atrocity committed in their midst since the happiness of the whole community depends on that atrocity not being stopped. Stop the atrocity and the whole community will suffer, as in the oft heard in Israel: " Let there be a free Palestinian State and Israel will suffer".
Where I disagree with Yuval is when he extends his comparison to the suffering and unhapiness in Egypt and in the rest of the region.
"For 30 years Israel enjoyed the status quo with Egypt, while Egyptians suffered from tyranny, lacked freedom of speech and could not effect their own destiny."
"Is this Jewish state such a fragile fantasy that an entire region of the world must be kept imprisoned in order for it to thrive? How many children are in truly basement? Four million Palestinians? Eighty million egyptians? How many more? How many people must be deprived of liberty so we can have ours? Can we only have our liberty by maintaining absolute dictators as allies? Are we really that scared?"
As if Egyptians never suffered at the hands of dictators and tyrans before Israel was created. As if the only reason Egyptians are suffering today is because of Israel's relations with Egypt and the status quo.
The Peace Agreement between Israel and Egypt was signed in 1978. more than 20 years prior to that, Egypt had its first revolution when the Free Officers took power and Nasser became Head of the State. He ended 75 years of foreign occupation but also established the single-party rule opening the way for a 20-year rule of terror, dictatorship, tyranny and torture. Those years will also see the re-birth of the "extremists' movements" in Egypt, the forefathers of the Bin Laden & Co (or should I write Bros). The disillusion in the Nasser Regime will come soon after he takes power, once the economic reform takes the shape of a grand scale industry and agriculture nationalization and the state police starts terrorizing an entire population. Nasser's State Police that is, not Israel's. (Nasser was always very keen on exchanging "State Security techniques" with his ex-USSR' aprtners).
YES, what is happening in Egypt today is a tragedy. This revolution started because of years and years of repression. What the people of Egypt want today is neither a military, nor a God-crazed regime. That is plain and clear.
YES the West' response is inappropriate to say the least. If it was the US' intentions to 1- make sure no-one but the US gets the most world attention, 2- say in each address exactly what extremists want them to say in order to use it as additional proof that all they want is to keep abusing people in the Middle East, while all their speeches about human rights are but a façade - people in Egypt demand political rights and a political voice, not human rights at this stage, 3- get to a situation where the protesters have started injecting the anti-US and anti-Israel rhetoric in their cries while initially, the West was not even accounted for - what people were asking for was to get rights through reform and peaceful protests- if those were the intentions of the US, I must lower my hat to them, for this time they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams! As for Israel, it did make the right decision initially, by keeping quiet, for whatever statement Israel would have issued, would likely be detrimental at this stage. But Israel can never keep quiet very long, isn't it? And so word got out that Israel was not only in support of keeping Mubarak in place in order not to disturb the status quo in the region, for fear it might turn into the wrong direction, but also pressing its western allies to do the same.
Of course silence was a façade. Of course, there are, have been and hopefully always will be between talks between heads of states. Of course, Israel is relatively happy with the status quo. Of course, to openly sustain and try to prevent the fall of a leader that is on the verge of the precipice, while half of his people is behind him pushing him, and the other half is down waiting to see him to dive, is not very clever.
Of course Israel is scared. Israel is always scared. Israel has been scared for the past 60 years. And with some rights to be, let us be fair to all. There are strong voices all around and even within Israel that do call for people to take arms against it.
BUT, true must said, these were not the voices screaming in the streets of Egypt for the first four days of the revolts. What they cried was for the Old Regime to step down, in order to make place for a New Regime and new realities, that would lead them to what they have been deprived of for years: freedom and economic prosperity. Their cries of despair and anger and frustration had nothing to do with Israel or the US or any other part of the world. … At least until the US issued started making their "colonial-style" statements.
However, just as much as Israel is not responsible for the fact that 80 million Egyptians are imprisoned in their own country. Those prisons were built and fortified long before Israel even existed, long before Israel and Egypt made their peace Agreement, long before "business deals" were signed between them. And thus it seems utterly incorrect to blame the unhappiness of an entire region on Israel.
As for the future, I do agree with Yuval's end statement:
"It is a tragedy that we do not take part in unbuilding the walls of the Middle East, but rather help reinforce them."
That, in my eyes, is the true tragedy. The failure of Israel, the United States and the western world in general to review their policies in regard to the Middle East and to stick to their "old fetters". For it is those very western-made fetters that extremists in all camps are using against it, and in such a convincing manner.
Mubarak will go, as I stated in a previous post, there is a global wind of change happening, or more accurately a storm of change, in all those countries that were formerly colonized first, and then kept in one way or other under the spell of West, mostly through financial means. It is of utmost importance for the West to realize that its hegemony over the world has had its time and to learn to live in a different reality. In the meantime it would not be a bad idea to stop helping those very extremists they are so wary of, by using discourses that only further proves each and every one of said extremists' anti-Western propaganda points. The West ought to start being more attentive to the public's needs in those countries. These very people who started those revolution and who are on the streets and who for the most really could not care less about "the world" but are trying by all means to better their and their children's own world. And rightfully so.
Yuval also asks:
"What message is Israel sending now? Does it truly imply that only a dictatorial Middle East will permit it to survive as a Jewish state? "
A question I would like to ask Yuval here is: What should Israel do at this point? Who, in his view, should Israel be in touch with in order to help this revolution succeed? Should they be in touch with anyone? How could Israel help this transition to be made by peaceful means?
For that also is one of the major problems: this people's revolution is really led by the people, not one leader has yet emerged. The demand is for Mubarak to leave, but so far no-one has been seen fit enough to take the lead. With Mubarak out, and none of the proposed replacements getting the support of the people and no suggestion from the protesters as to whom they would like to see lead their country, Egypt would then become a leaderless country, and I believe that a country without a leader and governed by its people is called an anarchy (except for Belgium of course, but there they do still have a King. Long live the King!).
It is certain that soon a stronger voice will be heard from amongst the protesters and a leader will emerge from who will impersonate the rightful demands of the Egyptian people. Let us hope that that this voice comes soon, before the momentum is lost and before that voice is but the voice of yet another "thug" in disguise who will reap the benefits of the West' malaise and profound lack of understanding of the situation, so apparent in all its statements and choices of political alliances in the region.