FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Egypt’s Awakening, Israel’s Denial

by AMIRA HOWEIDY

Israel which lost its “strategic asset” -as some of its leaders accurately described ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak- has been watching the Egyptian revolution since its onset with a mix of apprehension and concern, but its been watching closely nonetheless. Yet for some reason its military decided on 18 and 19 August to test the revolution -or otherwise provoke it- when its air force violated the Egyptian northeastern border in its hunt for Palestinian militants and launched air strikes that subsequently killed six Egyptian police guards.

Despite public outrage in Egypt, Israel’s leaders expressed only “regret” but would not offer an apology. Nor had it done so in the past under Egypt’s Mubarak when it “accidentally” killed several dozen borders guards and civilians without consequences over the years. It got away with it then and might have thought it can reassert its impunity with the new Egypt now.

But what is surprising here is Tel Aviv’s apparent misreading of the new reality across its southern border- its failure to assess the size and depth of public hostility towards Israel, despite the 32-year-old “peace” agreement with Cairo.

Israel’s decision makers and even mainstream media appeared only to see official Egypt which refused to respond to the public demand of recalling Egypt’s ambassador from Tel Aviv in retaliation. Yes, alarm bells were sounded all over Israeli editorials when protests relocated from Tahrir square on 19 August to the Israeli embassy in Giza and when a young building constructer scaled the 23 storey building, to remove the Israeli flag amidst a state of national jubilation. But instead of bowing to the storm, Israel’s military leaders declared to the Israeli daily Haaretz (22 August) that the 1979 peace agreement should be amended to allow for an upgrade in Egyptian military presence in Sinai’s demilitarized buffer zone to man Israel’s southern borders. In other words the Egyptian army should be allowed to deploy over Egyptian soil in their new job description as Israel’s police guards.

Meanwhile Tel Aviv continued to defy its once powerful ally Ankara by refusing to apologize for killing nine of its nationals on the Mavi Marmara Gaza bound aid ship while in international waters in May 2010. Israel left Turkey with no choice but to expel its ambassador in Ankara and suspend six military joint agreements on 2 September.

Naturally, this resonated instantly with the Egyptians who demanded no less from their military rulers but were let down. So on 9 September where a million man demonstration was called for in Tahrir square, very young and angry protestors vented their rage in two locations: the Interior ministry that remains repressive despite the revolution and the Israeli embassy for defying their national pride and dignity. This time not one, but two men removed the Israeli flag after thousands destroyed a provocative 3 meter high wall recently erected by the authorities to discourage demonstrations. This developed into the unexpected and unprecedented storming of the embassy.

Four Egyptians were killed that day and over 1,000 suffered injuries in clashes with armies of police. Both the Mubarak-appointed Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Essam Saraf government condemned the events in harsh wording, vowing to severely punish those held accountable.

While Israel found comfort in the above sacrifices offered by Egypt’s unelected rulers, and the reaction of apologists here who described the embassy events as “uncivilized” and “derailment from the revolution’s goals” it continued, once again, to overlook the real player in the revolutionary Egypt: the people themselves.

In the same vein, many Israeli editorials decided to draw a separation between the civilized “revolutionaries” of Tahrir Square from the unruly “mobs” who stormed the embassy, concluding that the latter do not represent the revolution.

But if this is indeed the situation in Egypt, why the anxiety over the warm reception of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan’s two day visit to Cairo last week? Isn’t Egypt’s revolution solely limited to domestic issues? Aren’t Egyptians, as the Israeli narrative goes, only concerned with democracy and improving living conditions and have no interest in national independence, dignity, pride or stability at their borders, clearly volatile because of the Israeli occupation?

Today Tel Aviv has to decide whether it wants to read the revolution’s graffiti on the wall and understand that it’s the people, not a confused government or a military council that lacks imagination beyond Mubarak’s mindset, who hold the cards to Egypt’s future. Any democratically elected government will not revive the defeatist -if not subservient- foreign policy that Mubarak and his successor Anwar El-Sadat engineered.

Their legacy was buried in Tahrir square by a people’s revolution and a struggle that was born ten years ago out of the nation-wide solidarity movement with the second Palestinian Intifada. It evolved – against all odds and – into the anti-Mubarak dissent movement that eventually toppled him on 11 February.

Amira Howeidy is an Egyptian journalist based in Cairo. She’s written extensively about Egypt’s dissent movement and the Palestinian question.


More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Andrew Stewart
Health Care for All: Why I Occupied Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Office
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A.
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail