Thursday, February 3, 2011

Egypt and Democracy?...Nah! says Israel

Egyptian Revolution, Israeli Exceptionalism
Wednesday, 02 February 2011 13:35 Michael Warschawski, Alternative Information Center (AIC)

When listening to Israeli responses to the uprising of the Egyptian people, the most striking aspect is the huge chasm existing between these responses and those of the remainder of the world. It appears that Israel exists on a totally different planet.
Whether honestly or hypocritically, there is no leader in the world who didn’t express support for the demands of the Egyptian masses, and criticism (whether gently or harshly) of President Mubarak’s functioning over the past three decades. Not only President Obama, but also the spokespeople of the neo-liberal republicans were forced to express doubts about their Egyptian ally and suggest that he leave and encourage implementation of political and social reforms. The entire world understands, or at least declares, that Mubarak is responsible for the justified rage of his people and that he must go home or, like his Tunisian colleague, to go into exile. Only in Israel are the reactions different, the exact opposite, both on the street and within the establishment.

Concern and fear characterize the reaction of the Israeli street. Israelis suddenly remember that there exists a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, and that this agreement is a “strategic asset”, that President Mubarak was an important ally, and that the Israeli-Egyptian “cold peace” saved millions of dollars for Israel’s Ministry of Defence. Moreover: if an average Israeli citizen can still somehow give credit (limited) to Arab leaders, primarily if they wear suits, ties and speak good English, the Arab masses frighten him. In his racist eyes the Arab masses are forever impassioned, “incited” and overflowing with hatred for everything considered cultured (Western) and of course, these masses are anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish. The Arab masses pose a strategic threat which can therefore inspire only fear, not empathy.

And concerning the Israeli establishment, with its numerous intelligence institutes, it completely forgot that in the Arab world there is something called “the street” which is capable of speaking, shouting, mobilizing and even overthrowing regimes. It is not surprising, therefore, that it is frantically looking for “who is behind the demonstrations” – the Muslim Brotherhood, Bin Laden, Iran… The former head of the General Security Services, Avi Dichter, even explained to us on television that the surprise of the Israeli intelligence authorities should not worry us…because they don’t possess the tools to predict popular uprisings (he even unashamedly reminded us that he and his friends did not predict either the First or Second Intifadas) or regime changes. The admission of the former GSS head is certainly encouraging, but if so why should they be paid salaries, and would it not be preferable to move the huge budgets of the intelligence divisions to the education and public housing sectors?

Apart from its intelligence failure, the response of the Israeli establishment is characterized by an expression of deep sorrow for the fall of the Egyptian dictator, and even anger that he did not take the steps necessary to immediately supress the demonstrations. The former minister Ben Eliezer does not understand why his friend Mubarak did not order the shooting of demonstrations (apparently over 300 dead are not enough for the former military governor); Benjamin Netanyahu is angry at Obama – whom he has long considered a wimpy president who abandoned defence of the free world and flirts with Islam – who immediately cut off from his Egyptian ally and did not extend the assistance necessary to preserve his regime; and Ehud Barak keeps quiet as, again, he doesn’t at all understand what happened, as opposed to President Shimon Peres who knows precisely what didn’t work and what must be done. In Peres’ meeting with the German chancellor this week Merkel spoke, like all her European colleagues, of the need for reform, while Nobel Peace Prize winner Peres said that “the world must learn from what happened in Gaza. Democracy begins with elections – but does not end with elections. Democracy is civilization and if the wrong side is elected it brings democracy to an end…the world saw very well what happened in Gaza when there was pressure for democratic elections and a radical and dangerous movement was elected, which has not permitted even one day of democracy for the Gaza residents.”

The world according to Israeli President Shimon Peres: there is a cultured world, of which Israel is a part, which is worthy of a democratic regime and elections, and there is a failed and ignorant world which must not be allowed to determine its own fate, and which requires dictatorship to stop it from doing nonsense. Fact: the cultured Israeli people democratically elected Liberman and his friends – truly cultured intellectuals. We hope that the Egyptian parliament elected in democratic elections will bring to the Egyptian people more worthy representatives. It is certain that the Egyptians will not find officials more pathetic than those in Israel.

Translated to English by the Alternative Information Center (AIC).

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