Mona Eltahawy who takes pride in being “the first Egyptian journalist to live and to work for a western news agency in Israel” was a big hit at this year’s J-Street gathering. This is a video of her opening remarks at the racist, Zionist group’s 2011 conference.
Eltahawy, unlike Ray Hanania and James Zogby, two other Arab-Americans who enthusiastically promote J-Street, does speak Arabic with native ability and closely followed the Egyptian revolution. Therefore, when she told the audience “not one anti-Israeli or anti-American sentiment was expressed” during the uprisings in Tunisia, and Egypt (11:40), she was knowingly making a false statement. While the immediate demands of the Tunisians and Egyptians were naturally focused on domestic issues, the tyrants’ relationships with the Zionist entity, and American support for these autocrats were on the minds of the millions who took the streets to demand not only an end to dictatorship, oppression, and poverty, but also subservience to the West and collaboration with Israel. This was clear to everyone who followed the uprisings, listened to the chants, read the signs, and paid attention to what people in the streets were saying. This is especially true in Egypt where American sponsorship and support for the regime was directly linked to the regime’s alliance with Israel which is a complete anathema to the Egyptian people. The suggestion Egyptians were unaware of American support for their tyrant or failed to understand the nexus between Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorial rule, and the regime’s relationship with the US and Israel is to assign them a level of naivete verging on contempt.
Eltahawy also tells the “moderate Zionist” audience to “make a call as J-Street, make a call as Israelis and say it’s time for the revolution for the freedom and dignity of Palestinians. If you make that call I will be there” (12:00). Ironically, while Eltahawy wants the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group to stand up for Palestinian “freedom and dignity”, she does not want the Egyptians, Tunisians, or other Arabs to stand up for Palestinian freedom and dignity.
This isn’t the first time Eltahawy has dismissed or openly expressed her opposition to popular Egyptian and Arab support for Palestinian rights. She has made it clear she believes Arabs are far too concerned with the dispossessed Palestinians and the violent, colonial-settler state created in Palestine that wages war on the surrounding Arab countries. In a very obnoxious article back in 2008, before uprisings and revolutions across the Arab world turned Eltahawy into an American media darling, she wrote “Israel is the opium of the people… Focusing on internal issues in each Arab country and ignoring the opium that is Israel? Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Syrians should do it before their states fail for the sake of Palestine.”
What is now left unexplained is why Eltahawy urges Arabs to ignore the plight of Palestinians, criticizes those who refuse to do so, and then calls on a pro-Israel group to stand up for Palestinian rights. Ignoring Arab solidarity and assuming Arab states surrounding the Zionist entity have no vested national security interest in confronting Israel, why shouldn’t the people in this region be concerned with the ongoing Palestinian Nakba? Why does Eltahawy call on the J-Street audience to now do what she has attacked Arabs for doing all along?
Eltahawy ends her remarks by imploring the gathering to reach out to the Arabs and say “we salute your non-violence, we salute your freedom and dignity and we too will march for the freedom and dignity of Palestinians, and I guarantee you will be met with Arabs from every single country…and I will be there.”
For the purpose of this article we will ignore the racist implication that Arabs need to be encouraged to be non-violent, and Eltahawy’s confusion regarding the obvious differences between a struggle for freedom, democracy, and human rights against a domestic tyrant, and the resistance to a foreign colonial regime. It is, however, eerily bizarre to call upon a gathering dedicated to preserving a racist, exclusivist entity, built and maintained through the application of mass violence and the subjugation of an indigenous population, to encourage freedom and non-violence.
Unfortunately for Eltahawy, and her new found friends at J-Street, the Arabs are dedicated to both their own freedom and democracy within individual Arab states, and the common Arab struggle against Zionism in Palestine and the region. The democratization of the Arab world and the liberation of Egypt, and other Arab states from an internal repression intrinsically linked to foreign hegemony will unleash a new and free Arab world. It will be democratic, more united, and just as committed to the liberation of Palestine as it was in 1948, and with a newly unleashed potential, energy, and determination to achieve that goal.
Eltahawy’s remarks to the J-Street crowd were a series of lies, absurdities, and wishful thinking. She is not telling the truth when she says “not one anti-Israeli… sentiment was expressed” during the Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Moreover, when she tells the “moderate Zionist” audience that “I guarantee you will be met with Arabs from every single country…and I will be there”, she is promising something she can’t deliver. She might “be there”, but she will be there alone. As far as the Arab people are concerned Zionism will never be approached as anything, but what it is, a racist, violent, colonial enterprise the defeat of which is a prerequisite to peace. Speak for yourself Mona or better yet, Ikhrasi.