Israeli flag burning
Photo: Reuters
Embassy's flag removed
Photo: AP

Egypt uprising has failed

Op-ed: Israeli Embassy attack proves reckless Egyptian society unprepared for democracy

Over the weekend, Israelis watched in horror as an angry mob of Egyptians fervently destroyed the only physical representation of the Jewish State within their grasp. The hatred displayed by the young Egyptians evoked painful memories of the Ramallah lynching that took place in October 2000 at the beginning of the second Intifada.


In that incident, two IDF reservists took a wrong turn into the Palestinian territories, where they were arrested and taken to a local police station. After word spread of their capture, a horde of angry Palestinians raided the station and proceeded to literally tear the reservists’ bodies apart in a repulsive act of murderous bigotry and hate.


Luckily, the siege on the Cairo embassy ended without any Israeli casualties.


After order was finally restored, many Egyptians who took part in the protests were interviewed by various media outlets, where they gloated to the cameras about their “heroism” in attacking the embassy, stealing files, destroying property and assaulting an embassy worker.


The embassy attack was just one of many incidents that took place in a series of protests staged across Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt, dubbed by organizers as the "Friday of Correcting the Path." The name refers to the mounting discontent among Egyptians over their transitional government and its caretaker-- the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.


Many of the liberal/reform movements that led the uprising against Mubarak in January urged their supporters to take back into the streets against the extension of the old dictatorship by Field Marshal Tantawi and Prime Minister Sharaf. The largest of the demonstrations, which took place in Cairo's iconic Tahrir square, was meant to display the average Egyptian’s rage over military trials for civilian and desire for a speedier transition to democracy.


Democracy and responsibility

Unfortunately for many freedom-seeking Egyptians, the events that transpired only conveyed to the international community that Egypt is not ready for the challenges and responsibilities of democracy. Incidents like these have many politicians secretly yearning for Mubarak's oppressive dictatorship, which might have been necessary to contain what is generally an unruly and aggressive society.


When the first demonstrators descended on Israel’s Cairo embassy and began to tear down its wall with sledgehammers, I could only wonder why Egyptians are so ignorant as to focus their energy and efforts on the tiny Jewish state, while their own country is plagued by a faltering economy, increasing lawlessness and growing religious extremism.


As darkness fell on the upscale Giza suburb and the protest intensified, an al-Jazeera correspondent tried franticly (and detestably) to portray the scene as a result of frustration and injustice to the Palestinian people. We should hope that the apologetic reporting did nothing to distract spectators around the world from the embarrassing violation of international law taking place amid complete chaos.


Even Cuba, which hosts a minor diplomatic mission of its most hated enemy, the United States, takes painstaking efforts to ensure the safety of American citizens deployed there. The Cubans’ efforts are not based on friendship with the US, but rather, on strict adherence to international custom.


However, the Egypt-Israel relationship is apparently resistant even to this basic gesture of respect. One could only imagine the response of Egyptians to a mob of angry Israelis raiding the Egyptian embassy and burning Egyptian flag.


Regardless of their policies toward Israel, foreign ministries from Oman to England should be scrambling to contact Egypt’s transitional government and voice their concern for the safety of their own embassies.


Democracy comes with responsibility, and Friday’s events have clearly indicated that the Egyptian people are currently incapable of acting responsibly when given the freedom to express themselves. As the Mubarak trial resumes this week, world leaders who recently shunned him will perhaps realize that his iron grip on Egyptian society was not enforced based on a thirst for tyranny, but rather, out of necessity.



פרסום ראשון: 09.12.11, 09:43
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