February 16, 2011
Letters to the Editor: Egypt, women’s rights, Palestine
Eshman’s Siren Song
The Egyptian people clamoring for a voice in “one brief shining moment” historically and presently, by all accounts, share one thing in common — their hatred for Israel and for Jews (“Siren Song,” Feb. 11). Yet Eshman and his political mentor, Tom Friedman (the “father” of modern Jewish journalistic Israel bashing), are upset that we can’t embrace this revolutionary movement with a full heart. Yes, it’s true we don’t know how this will all turn out for Israel, but we would be extremely naive and shortsighted not to view these events with trepidation. Friedman and Eshman may think “realist” is a bad word, but “dreamer” is a whole lot more dangerous. Really, Rob, we only know Arabs from TV? Tell that to the families that have suffered over generations due to Arab hatred and violence up close and personal.
Mr. Eshman seems to be annoyed at the skepticism of many Jews and certainly Israelis at the true authenticity of the freedom movement in Egypt, fearing it may be a similar blueprint to the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1979. Eshman punctuates his argument quoting a Facebook statement by Rabbi Wolpe, citing Plato: “We can forgive a child who is afraid of the dark ... the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light.” Perhaps I might offer another platitude that may better evoke the feelings of many Jews: “What if the only light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train?”
I want to thank Rob Eshman for his superbly written article. By taking a deeper look at why many of us Jews have had difficulty supporting the Egyptians in their fight for freedom, he has revealed some uncomfortable and painful truths about us as a people. His insights into our underlying fear, suspicion and mistrust of the Other (who most of us have had very little, if any, direct contact with), as well as the heavy baggage we continue to carry from the Holocaust is so refreshing. I, for one, am tired of the same old finger-pointing and dehumanizing views that too many of us Jews have toward Arabs. And I am ashamed and saddened that we Jews, who have had centuries of being the target of finger-pointing and dehumanization can so easily do it ourselves. Thank you, Mr. Eshman, for holding a mirror up to us and helping us see a part of ourselves we would rather not see, but can hopefully help us grow a little.
Understanding the numerous and ever-present threats to the very survival of Israel, both from the inside and the outside, it is easy to sink into the same black hole of pessimism over the dangers inherent in the Egyptian uprising.
But there is a beacon of light in the spirit of this true citizen uprising. Watching the Egyptian “man in the street” interviews on television was often inspiring as they spoke from their hearts about their battle for freedom and hopes for the future.
It seems to me there is a lesson in the courage of that citizen struggle for Israel in it’s own issues and for each of us in our own lives. Amid the often black scene there is the possibility of a high road, but it takes commitment and courage.
Maybe the world has hope after all.
Kudos to David Suissa (“Israel Never Looked So Good,” Feb. 4) , who channels what I consider t o be responsible anger in thoughtful, intelligent and powerful words.
David Suissa’s expression of pride in Israel misses the mark on Israel’s very urgent need to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.
Rightfully and thankfully, Israel has not been the focal point of the demonstrators in Egypt. But when the dust settles, Egypt will almost certainly have a government that will be more populist in its approach. At that point Israeli-Palestinian relations will have an even greater impact on Israeli-Egyptian relations.
It is because the “geniuses” at Peace Now share Suissa’s pride in Israel, that we focus on a resolution that will secure Israel’s future as a Jewish state and a democracy in the rough neighborhood in which it exists. Think how good Israel will look then.
Egypt and Women’s Rights
Nina Burleigh’s article (“Egypt and the Universal Rights of Women,” Feb. 11) struck a chord. The West neglects the crimes against women. At the risk of sounding like a naive college student again: Aren’t women’s rights human rights? Greg Mortenson explains in “Three Cups of Tea” that building schools to educate girls will help Pakistan develop. “Sex and the City 2,” on the other hand, shows discrimination in Saudi Arabia as fact. But, if they were given full social, political and economic equality tomorrow, the wave of energy unleashed would be so powerful, it would wash away much of the male-dominated extremism. This is what we need to be fighting for in the West.
Deborah Fletcher Blum
Thank you for an excellent piece in The Journal on the situation in Egypt. Great challenge: “How dare we, in our response to the courageous, suffering people of Egypt, turn freedom into the ‘F’ word?” (Feb. 4).
Your editorial was courageous and honest and needed.