The media has long repeated the mantra that Israel is the Middle East’s only democracy. Combined with serious doubts regarding the Arabs’ readiness for democracy, the conclusion offered is: Israel carries similar values to the US, the West, the First World, the civilized hemisphere, and the Arabs epitomise all the ailments of the world. It matters little that Arab regimes were made ‘powerful’ by the backing of their western benefactors, or that oppression – in the name of fighting the enemies of peace and progress – was urged, financed and orchestrated with western interests in mind. The fact that the bullets and canister teargas that killed and wounded numerous Egyptians had the following words inscribed on it in Arabic: ‘suni’a fi al-wilayat al-mutahida al-amrikyia’ – Made in the United States – was also deemed entirely irrelevant to any discussion on how and why Egyptians were being suppressed or why the Arab Lion must never find its roar.
“The much-feted Mossad was taken by surprise,” wrote Uri Avnery. The CIA was too, although US lawmakers are trying to determine “whether the CIA and other spy agencies failed to give President Obama adequate warning of the unfolding crisis in Egypt” (as reported by Greg Miller in the Washington Post, February 4). Senator Dianne Feinstein who heads the Intelligence Committee, accused the intelligence community of ‘lacking” performance. The CIA should have monitored Facebook more closely, she suggested.
But there can be no telling when a nation revolts. Most of the chanting multitudes have no Facebook accounts. They don’t tweet either. In Tahrir Square, a man with a moustache, dark skin and handsome features carried a cardboard sign on which he had written, rather hurriedly: “I want to eat. My monthly salary is 267 (Egyptian) pounds – approx $45 – and I have four children.”
Others want to breathe the air of freedom. Others still want justice. Dignity. Equality. Democracy. Hope. How can such values be measured, or safeguarded against?
There is a very popular word in Egypt – al-Sabr. It means patience. But no one could predict when the patience would run out. Arab and Egyptian intellectuals didn’t see it coming, and even the country’s opposition parties were caught by surprise. Everyone tried to catch up as millions of long-oppressed Egyptians erupted in astounding unison: hurriya, hurriya, adalah igtimayyia – freedom, freedom, social justice.
Ramzy Baroud in Radiance Weekly. More Here.