Egyptian Rage Against Israel: Nasser-Infused Nationalism/In Egypt, Israel is Still the Opium of the People
Egypt’s Spring opened up space for public displays of hatred towards Israel
that Nasser used to arouse.The New Republic’s Cairo’s Embassy Riots: Anti-Israeli Sentiment In Egypt Has Nothing To Do With Palestine is one of the best articles I’ve read for background on the Israeli Embassy rampage in Cairo. Read for example:“THE VALORIZATION OF WAR with Israel is something that millions of Egyptians experience everyday as they drive over the 6th of October Bridge, one of Cairo’s busiest thoroughfares that was named for the date on which Egypt attacked Israel to launch the 1973 war. Meanwhile, approximately 500,000 Egyptians have left the congestion of Cairo for October 6th City to the southwest, which is home to October 6th University, and an additional 140,000 Egyptians now live in 10th of Ramadan City, which is named for the equivalent date on the Islamic calendar and houses the 10th of Ramadan University. Cairene schoolchildren, for their part, visit the October War Panorama, where they are taught that Egyptian forces defeated the “enemy” in the 1973 war, without any mention of the Israeli tanks that were rolling towards Cairo as the war ended. And while the anniversary of the Camp David Accords routinely goes unrecognized, Egyptians commemorate April 25, when Israel completed its withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, and October 6 as national holidays.”
During the Israel-Gaza War in 2009, Mona Eltahawy wrote an essay that was both pleading and prescient. In, Israel, The Opium of the People, she railed against the Arab masses’obsession with Israel at the expense of protest against their own regimes. And she anticipated the absurdity of post-Arab Spring Egyptians morphing into the crazed but familiar rioters of yesterday’s Israel embassy rampage. Apparently they still have a problem with addiction:
“As for my country of birth, Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak, in power for more than 27 years, has presided over a disastrous policy that on the one hand maintains a 1979 peace treaty his predecessor Anwar Sadat signed with Israel and on the other unleashes state-owned media fury at Israel that has fanned a near-hysterical hatred for the country among ordinary Egyptians.“Yes, Israel’s occupation of Arab land angers Egyptians but there is absolutely no space in Egyptian media, culture or intellectual circles for discussing Israel as anything but an enemy. And neither is there an attempt to forge it.
“And now Mubarak, old, tired and out of new ideas, is reaping a policy that plays all sides against each other in an attempt to make his regime indispensable.
“But my question to Egyptians and others across the region incensed at Israel is where is their anger at the human rights violations, torture, and oppression in their respective countries? If such large crowds turned out onto Arab capitals every week, they could’ve toppled their dictators years ago!”
Read the full essay here for several other killer observations:“And the demonstrators in Jordan and Lebanon? Who reminds them that in 1970, Jordan killed tens of thousands as it tried to control Palestinian groups based there, forcing the Palestine Liberation Army into Lebanon where in 1982, the Phalangists, Christian Lebanese militiamen, slaughtered 3,000 Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camp?
“Not a single Phalangist has been held accountable for that massacre. An Israeli state inquiry in 1983 found Ariel Sharon, then defense minister, indirectly responsible for the killings at the refugee camps during Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon. But don’t hold your breath for an Arab inquiry. It is Israel that gives sense to our victimhood. The horrors we visit upon each other are irrelevant.”BTW, I found this article in my search for the use of ‘Opium of the People’ in contemporary political commentary. I will be writing about another instance of it in the next few days.
Filed under: Israel/Palestine, Middle East | Leave a Comment
Tags: Anwar El Sadat, Cairo, Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, Israel, Mona Eltahawy, Nasserism, Pan-Arabism