July 1, 2012 | 2:24 am
Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
“The conventional wisdom goes that the Arab Spring has been a good thing” read an item intro on PRI’s “The World” last week, “Just look at Egypt: a dictator is out and a new leader has just been democratically elected”. A salute of that sort to a nascent democracy is natural and understandable, as intuitive as bundling Egyptian democracy with the prospects of tolerance, progress and peace in Egypt. It’s not always so. Democracy and the evolutionary ideas we associate with it have been “un-bundled” before - In the West, and certainly in the rest of the world.
The 2006 election of Hamas in Gaza is an example. Both “Hamas” and “Gaza” are mentioned in the news pretty much only in the context of the war with Israel, missing that internally and off-camera, the Hamas government is hated by most Gazans for its oppression and human rights violations. Of course, no popularity is required when the government is not up for re-election, just sufficient hold on the population. Democracy? Not really.
In the Israeli-Palestinian front Hamas offers nothing but ultra-nationalism, militarism, and religious zeal. This Democratic choice was not a peaceful one. The Hamas promotes unacceptable ideology, as far beyond the rules of civilization as an American President calling for the killing of all illegal immigrants. Be prepared to read “Ideology” a few more times in this post, because ideology is far more important than the vehicle used to lift it to power.
Robert Scheer, Editor In Chief of TruthDig.com, blamed the US government more than once for daring not to accept the Hamas government, after all - it was democratically elected. This view sanctifies the platform and disregards the ideology, reducing democracy to a political-platform-laundering operation. Would an American President calling for the killing of all illegal immigrants be legitimate because he’d won his office democratically? You need 2 ingredients in order to properly mix democracy: The right to vote and the accountability of the electorate for its choice. One without the other is worth zero.
How much accountability will be practiced by the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi? This is the million-dollar question. Prof. Yoram Meytal, an Egypt expert at the Ben Gurion University, says there’s a “great tension between the hostile ideology and rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood towards Israel and the necessity for pragmatism.” Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood, since its inception in 1922, has been immersed in Islamist Antisemitism that segued smoothly into anti-Zionist and anti-Israel hate of the explicit, fanatic brand. Egyptian Brotherhood militias had fought the Jews as early as the twilight days of the British Mandate in 1948 (way before the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza), as a precursor to the Egyptian military invasion later that year. The Brotherhood’s rhetoric against Israel is genocidal, much like the Hamas’ (which itself is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood).
Morsi claimed last year that “The Zionists aspire to destroy Egypt”, and despite him personally practicing caution with anti-Israel hate speech (pragmatism?), his circle and movement continue business as usual. In a Morsi campaign event on May 1st notorious cleric Safwat Hijazi promised that “Jerusalem will be the capital of the United Arab States” and that “Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem”, as an upbeat MC chanted with the crowd: “Morsi will liberate Gaza tomorrow”. A singer followed: “Forget about the conferences, Brandish your weapons, Say your prayers”. Morsi, naturally, was right there center stage.
Meanwhile, Brotherhood-affiliated clerics, war-happy and itching for violence, are keeping their racist hate simmering. “Can’t young Egyptians fight the Jews? Can’t they devour them?” asks cleric Hazem Shuman on Al-Rahma TV, boasting that “Many millions of our young men are ready to fight the Jews!“ Shuman remissly forsakes the catastrophe, defeat and humiliation Egypt had suffered 4 times in just 25 years fighting Israel. Yes, it’s the ideology, stupid. In the mind and heart of the faithful, religious duty eclipses progress, prevents moderation, and sanctions tragedy and human suffering.
So far and for many decades the likes of Mubarak kept this chaotic menace from bursting. The events in Egypt are historical not only because of the democratic process, this is also the defeat of the old power at the hands of its nemesis; The shocking, must-see series finale; A drama 90 years in the making.
So does that make Mubarak the good guy? No dictator can be a good guy. In this story, turns out, there are no good guys. Well, there are, for me, good guys: Remember liberal Wael Ghonim, that Google engineer from the first days of the revolution? He was nice, wasn’t he. His ilk are few, weak and display levels of testosterone way too low to play with these other boys - they’re absolutely marginal.
Were these insignificant liberals the image of the Egyptian revolution you had in your head? Well - between the rule of a strong man, the rule of Allah, and the rule of Democracy, the latter, unfortunately, is not even a player. The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t like Democracy, but it identified it as the vehicle to power - and won. Will there be another election? Who knows. The first gloomy hint was strong man Omar Suleiman and runner-up Ahmed Shafik’s flee out of Egypt for fear of prosecution. (Have you even heard about that?)
As far as I know Nicolas Sarkozy did not feel the need to seek overseas refuge from Francois Holand’s wrath. No, he’s probably chilling out in Saint Tropez right about now.
BONUS: The always animated Muhammed Hussein Ya’aqub’s gossip-meal:
Follow me on Twitter: @LostRoadToPeace
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