“Israeli officials, who have long viewed Mr. Mubarak and Mr. Suleiman as stabilizing influences in a dangerous region, have made clear to the administration that they support evolution rather than revolution in Egypt.”
I’m a Zionist and I’ve cheered for this revolution for years. Hate-monger Mubarak has had too many chances. The M-B are not a concern while they are being swamped by the mass of democracy-seekers on the streets. link
So what is the problem? I believe that the professional analysts, heads-of-state, New York Times journalists, etc, all have a common affliction: they are all successful people at or near the top of their food chain. Such folk feel that any change in the current status quo threatens their own position.
My favorite movie illustrating this disease is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The Klingons face a shock and dissident elements of both Federation and Empire undermine their own leaders to try to maintain their conflict rather than accept the “undiscovered country”, peace.
[Originally posted at Crossroads Arabia]
The Financial Times has a view penned by Ayaan Hirsi Ali that better conforms to the fears and desires of the elites - but one that offers greater opportunities for the Mubarak gang to hoodwink the Egyptian people: [h/t Elder of Zion]
Innumerable commentators have drawn analogies with the revolutions that swept eastern Europe in 1989.
This is to miss the profound difference between the western and the Muslim crowd. The people taking to the streets in north Africa and the Middle East have many motivations. But nothing unifies them more than the mass prayer of their religion – particularly the Friday prayer. It is the mosque as much as the street that is key to understanding this uprising.
Those who look forward to a 1989-style outcome – a peaceful transition to a secular, multi-party democracy – should remember how little experience the proponents of secular democracy have. The Muslim Brotherhood has been around since 1928, and draws on a 1,400-year-old tradition of submission....
The Mubaraks and Gaddafis of the Middle East are not an anomaly; they are the product of structural lack of freedom inherent in the crowd culture of the Islamic world. In this culture submission is instilled early on. If you are not allowed to talk back to your father, or teacher, or clergyman, submission to state tyranny becomes almost second nature. In such a setting, the methods to empower oneself – indeed to survive – are conspiracy, manipulation, intrigue and bribery. Those aspiring to positions of power fear that sharing it will weaken them and lead to humiliation. So once a position is achieved it is made permanent, from the lowliest bureaucrat to the president.
A culture that elevates individual submission oscillates between periods of apathy and occasional bouts of revolt. Arab leaders either rule for life, grooming their sons for succession, or end up having to flee.
So what can today’s Muslim crowds do to avoid the fate of all those mice who thought they glimpsed freedom but were in fact mere playthings of the cat?
The protesters must begin by acknowledging the factors that create an environment where tyrants thrive. For too long, outside forces have been the scapegoats of the Arab street. It is easy to blame the Zionists and America. It is harder to admit one’s own shortcomings.
But today’s crowds also need to articulate what they want. A participant in Egypt’s mass protests was asked on the BBC to comment on the leaderless quality of the demonstrations (February 4). His answer – “We don’t need a leader” – baffled the interviewer and no doubt most western viewers.
His aversion to leadership is understandable in the light of past Arab regime changes. Here, men who arrive as liberators have a way of morphing into dictators until the time when another man mobilises the masses to liberate the nation from their ex-liberator. The new man then rebuilds the old infrastructure of spies and torture chambers.
But is it realistic to have a leaderless revolution? In my view it is not. In the absence of leadership – which means not just one man but a legitimate command structure, as well as some kind of explicit manifesto – these protests will never achieve the truly revolutionary changes we saw in Europe in 1989.
Instead we shall see chaos and instability followed by a new era of authoritarianism; a brief democracy followed by a coup or a sharia government led by the Brotherhood.
So the crowd must become a real movement. They have to build civil institutions. They must hurry and compose a list of demands before they are dispersed. It is not enough just to ask for the despot to go. There need to be amendments to existing constitutions or new ones need to be written. And here America and Europe can offer help.
But when it comes to changing the culture of submission no one can help the Arabs but themselves. It is not their inexorable fate to be ruled either by dictators or by religious fanatics. They will achieve true freedom, however, only when they emancipate themselves from the peculiar power structure imposed on the Muslim crowd – by itself.
It's true, nobody in the West or Israel wants Islamic radicals to come to power. But these protesters aren't seeking to explode America, nor march across the Sinai to kill Jews. They want freedom to determine their own fate, not to serve the glory-seeking of masters. They are, indeed, the "huddled masses yearning to be free." Their leaders - even if they don't recognize themselves as such - are somewhat cognizant of the failed revolutions of the past hundred years (Russia, Iran, Lebanon) and will seek to avoid the same fate. Let us wish them luck and give them our moral and intellectual support during their historic struggle.
Update, 2/11/11 1:50pm: A few additional thoughts, now that Mubarak is gone. It seems I am one of the few Zionists who wholeheartedly supported the Egyptian Revolution. The Israelis worry that Mubarak's departure could mean Egypt will choose to go to war with the Jewish State. However, I think Israel is pretty far from Egyptians minds right now. Though it is understandable why Israelis are wary of the change. Mubarak crafted the image of building a volcano of Jew-hatred suppressed only by the fact that he sat on top of it. If not the West, then at least the Egyptians realized that their true priority was to get rid of tyranny, not Israel.
Now we will see how far the veracity of the theses Sharansky espoused in The Case for Democracy extend. Part of it has already been verified: applying democratic power, the Egyptians have rid themselves of Mubarak without embracing what twenty days ago seemed the only alternate, a terror-supporting regime. Perhaps the hatred inspired by a century of authoritarian dictators and mullahs will also start to dissipate. (Using terror to drive Jewish settlers out of Palestine was first proposed by the Mufti of Jerusalem in 1898.)
Update, 2/11/11, 3:50pm: Sparky Said: The dictators have been USING Israel as public enemy # 1 as part of their number one keys in their propaganda kit to keep them in power. This cattle prod has been an effective tool against its own citizens as a form of diversion against the real issues they face mainly economic ones. Of course this fire is fueled secretly and behind the scenes. Israel has been an effective a tool that they have used with Western governments and Israel alike in keeping them phobiasized that they have control over the Israel button. There is no Israel button!---
The Brotherhood must be very worried. Although I don’t know their power in the smaller cities, they don’t show themselves much in Cairo and perceive they are a minority in Alexandria. They must realize that if they misbehave all it would take would be for rumor to spread and a fingernail of Tahrir Square – say, two thousand people out of two million – would peel off to deal with them.
It’s when the crowd gets tired and leaves the Square that I worry about. Then the machinations and organization of the M-B may come into play. But Arabs, Osama Bin Laden told us, are usually keen to bet on the “strong horse” – and today, that is democracy, not the Brotherhood.
I wonder what Zawahiri thinks now that Mubarak is gone? Surely he fantasizes returning to Egypt, but as a terrorist or as a democrat?
[Originally posted at Crossroads Arabia]