In February 2011, a few weeks after Egypt’s uprising erupted, when the Arab Spring was supposedly just around the corner and meant to bring us a new Middle East in the undying spirit of Shimon Peres, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times stood at Tahrir Square and delivered his own, no less immortal vision.
Friedman, whose name is mentioned by Israel’s finest colleagues without forgetting to note that he is “the world’s most important journalist,” examined the Cairo square with his sharp eyes, and found no hint of Islamic inspiration or influence, and certainly no Islamic forces behind the scenes patiently waiting for the reward that Tahrir’s “Facebook kids” will hand over to them. What he did see using his incredibly developed journalist prowess was genuine de-colonization of Egypt, the rise of progressive democratic forces that will forever change Egypt’s dictatorial face, an Egyptian Pharaoh (Mubarak) removed from power with the vigorous encouragement of President Obama, and an Israeli Pharaoh (Netanyahu) who, being a lowly man, cannot grasp the significance of the regional change. So much for Thomas Friedman’s interpretation.
As we know, much water, and mostly blood, has flowed through the Middle East ever since then. In Tunisia, which was meant to pave the way for positive change, we saw the establishment of an Islamic Brotherhood-led government after the victory of the Ennahda party, which has made the sources of its authority clear to all.
Meanwhile, Libya of the post-Gaddafi lynch mostly makes sure that Gaza’s arms warehouses are well stocked. In Syria, they make sure to meet the daily massacre quota. In Egypt, the Islamic Brotherhood and the Salafis are taking over parliament. The Brotherhood’s Mohammad Morsi is about to succeed the terrible Mubarak who slipped into a coma, while the Tahrir kids bemoan their “stolen revolution.”
Yet in New York, the “world’s most important journalist” still does nothing but write about the march of folly of those who, unlike him, have yet to recognize this great Mideastern era.
Overdose of wishful thinking
Yet Friedman is no more than an example of an allegory for the way many in the West, including its leaders and journalists (led by Obama) formulate their doctrine in line with the ideological color of their worldview, and as result of an overdose of wishful thinking. For them, reality is no more than a burdensome nuisance.
According to this mechanism, the Egyptian people’s deep desire for democracy, equality, civil rights and respect for women and minority rights is attested to by the tens (or hundreds) of thousands of people in Tahrir Square, and not, heaven forbid, by the mood of the more than 80 million citizens of this country.
According to polls undertaken in Egypt in 2008 and in 2010 by Gallup, some 95% of Egyptians want Islam to have greater influence in politics, 64% want Islamic Law to be the basis for legislation, 54% support public segregation of men and women, 82% support stoning as punishment for adultery, and 84% endorse the death penalty for those who shun Islam.
In 1979, in the name of noble human rights ideals, Jimmy Carter abandoned the Persian Shah, paved Khomeini’s way to Tehran, and with his own hands turned Iran from America’s most important ally in the Persian Gulf to an Islamic Ayatollah republic.
In 1991, in the name of lofty democratic ideals, and with the encouragement of the West, Algeria too decided to play the democratic game. The government called elections, the Islamic FIS party won a majority, the election results were dismissed, and the country found itself in a bloodbath that lasted for more than a decade and claimed some 100,000 victims.
In 2006, in the service of these same ideas, the Bush Administration forced Ariel Sharon and the Palestinian Authority to hold democratic elections. The vote indeed took place, Hamas won the jackpot, and we all know Gaza’s history ever since then.
Yet since the outset of 2011, equipped with the same divine ideals of spreading democracy to all, including the Levant, and utilizing an amazing inability to foresee the future, Obama, Friedman and the finest liberal forces in the West continue to joyfully market their goods, while refusing to wake up from the ideological slumber they’ve slipped into many years ago.