If the establishment Arabs would take a break from their galas, photo-ops with US officials, and slavish existence on the fringes of US officialdom and speak honestly to the American people they would find millions in this country that stand in solidarity with the struggle for Arab liberation and oppose criminal US wars. Together we can build a better, more just, and peaceful world for Arabs, Americans, and all of humanity.
Hussein Ibish On Egypt
|Hussein Ibish On Libya|
|Under such volatile circumstances, commentators should be extremely careful.||Act. Now.|
|There are times when commentary needs to fall silent for a moment and let events sort themselves out.||Muammar al-Qaddafi’s bloodcurdling speech on Feb. 22 should force even skeptics of international intervention to think twice.|
The situation in Egypt is simply too opaque, at least at the time of writing this article, for anything so glib as predictions.
It is becoming increasingly clear that these difficulties are outweighed by the risks of standing by and watching events unfold without taking any meaningful action.
|There are times when commentary needs to fall silent for a moment and let events sort themselves out.||Unlike other Western interventions in the region, humanitarian action in Libya would place the United States and the West on the side of the aspirations of millions of ordinary Arabs|
Both Mubarak and Qadhafi have oppressed their people for decades. Both deserve to be overthrown in popular uprisings. So why this discrepancy in Ibish’s stance? The difference between the two is that Mubarak’s regime had a peace treaty with Israel and good relations with the US while Qadhafi doesn’t. As we’d previously noted,
Given Ibish’ role as the Washington concierge to PA officials, and his work for the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), the Washington public relations firm of the Israeli-sponsored, Western-funded, American-supervised collaborationist regime in occupied-Ramallah, he’s probably feeling a little uncomfortable watching the ground shake under the PA’s main ally in the Arab world, [Egypt].
“I personally feel a lot of respect and empathy for Mubarak. He enjoyed and deserved the respect of many egyptians… its a tough job holding egypt above water; its ehh ehh new million babies every 9 months, new million jobs every 9 months and ehh he was quite successful under his circumstances.. and deserved respect and his dignity should be ehhh kept”
With Wolf Blitzer on CNN/2-23-2011
While housies* who had supported the Mubarak regime, like ADC and James Zogby, are flocking to jump on the revolutionary bandwagon, Irshad Manji doesn’t appear impressed with the Egyptian people’s toppling of 30 years of US and Israeli-backed dictatorship.
For the past two weeks, we’ve been hearing that the “wall of fear” in Egypt has collapsed. Not to rain on anyone’s revolutionary parade, but I beg to differ.
Why the indifference towards the Egyptian people’s amazing feat? In what almost sounds like a sentence lifted from Raphael Patai’s The Arab Mind, Manji, who doesn’t know Arabic or hold a degree in Arab cultural studies, confidently opines:
the politics of the family. That’s where fear begins in much of Arab society.
Manji narrates the stories of two anonymous Egyptian women who fear their parents and then offers gratuitous advice:
I have no idea whether Mona or the woman I met at the café in Cairo participated [in the protests to oust Mubarak]. If they did, they’ll now need to apply their gutsiness to relationships at home.
Of course, just like Patai cited an Arab friend in the introduction to his book to give a facade of legitimacy, Manji found a Syrian sociologist, Halim Barakat, whose research she used to back up her claim. Her application of Barakat is problematic on two levels.
First, Manji misinterpreted and misapplied Barakat (carelessly or deliberately). She quoted one sentence from Halim Barakat’s book:
Political leaders “are cast in the image of the father, while citizens are cast in the image of children.” (Remember the speech in which Mr. Mubarak defiantly affirmed that he wouldn’t step down? He painted himself as the father figure who deserved absolute compliance from his 80 million toddlers, whom he’d previously ordered to go home.)
Manji doesn’t give us a citation for that, likely because she conveniently lifted it from a blog post by Brian Whitaker, whom she quotes in the same post. Since Whitaker doesn’t mention the book, Manji doesn’t bother to look it up herself. The quote came from The Arab World: Society, Culture and State. Had Manji actually read the book (it’s online; she didn’t even need to make a trip to the library), she would’ve noticed that the author in the very next paragraph preemptively rebuts any simplistic generalizations and negative stereotypes that orientalists like Manji may spout:
To consider the complexity of society and the variations introduced by social class, lifestyle (bedouin, rural, or urban), political order, and encounters with other societies, we must reexamine some previously accepted generalizations. One such generalization is that the Arab family socializes its children into dependency. The dependency present in Arab society is only partly a product of family; much of it is owing to political and economic repression
Barakat goes on to give an example of a Palestinian refugee camp that had transformed its social dynamics over the course of one year thanks to political organization. The excerpt is so exciting and similar to self-empowerment we’re seeing in Egypt, it’s worth reprinting in full. It’s not surprising that Manji would’ve excluded this had she looked up the book, considering her support for Israel:
After a three-week study of a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan immediately after the June 1967 war, I concluded that a few well-armed and well-organized persons might be able to invade and control this camp of more than three thousand people because the camp lacked organization. Every family lived on its own, totally preoccupied with immediate and personal problems and interests. Less than a year later, in the spring of 1968, I visited the same camp and found it totally transformed. In the interim, Palestinian resistance organizations had mobilized the people, trained them, engaged them in political dialogue, and involved them in preparation for surprise attacks. People were talking about principles, arguing about ideological issues, learning about themselves and their enemies, and proudly narrating the stories of heroes and martyrs of the liberation struggle. The explanation for this sudden transformation from a condition of dependency to a condition of autonomy is located not in the realm of the constant (that is, early childhood upbringing) but in the realm of social variant.
Thus, Barakat would say the Egyptian revolt transformed Egyptians’ (reluctant) dependency on Mubarak was brought about by the social variant change they chose. In other words, a more thorough examination of Barakat, as opposed to Manji’s intellectually lazy approach, suggests that the social change she yearns for – “Maybe it can work the other way around, too. Maybe democracy in parliament will convulse autocracy in the house” – has already has already been set in motion.
Second, like Patai, Manji selects a social dynamic and orientalizes it. She presents it as uniquely and distinctively Arabic. It’s like Patai’s saying Arabs cringe at sexual degradation; as if other peoples enjoy it. Even if we were to assume for the sake of argument that her simplistic father figure theory of power dynamics is correct, she is unaware that this is a predominant image in western society also as postulated by Freud (Group Psychology and Analysis of the Ego).
How about Manji demonstrate some gutsiness herself and apologize for supporting Israel, the primary culprit behind Egyptians’ oppression. Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel was the main reason Mubarak was armed and supported in the billions of dollars annually in US foreign aid. Enthusiastically endorsed by Daniel Pipes and Alan Dershowitz and a supporter of the collaborating PA’s Salam Fayyad, Manji is no friend to Arabs and is in no position to offer advice, much less racist advice.
Irshad Manji, ikhrasi khales!
* Housies: Short for “House Arabs and House Muslims,” terms inspired by Malcolm X’s term “House Negro”.
[IKHRAS NOTE] Ikhras is dedicated to exposing the fraudulent and unrepresentative nature of the elitist handful of self-appointed representatives of Arab-Americans in Washington DC, and amplifying the authentic voice of Arabs in America.
Special Guest Submission – Ayman El-Sayed is a New York-Based Lebanese-American journalist and activist. He is one of the founders of Existence is Resistance, an organization that promotes resistance through the arts and conducted its first hip hop tour throughout Palestine in the summer of 2010. The year before that, Ayman participated in an American convoy that traveled to Egypt and delivered medical aid to the Gaza Strip. Article originally appeared in Existence Is Resistance.
In Egypt, something amazing has happened. Something people knew needed to happen but were to too afraid to make it happen. The Egyptian people have inspired people throughout western Asia and northern Africa to stand up for their rights and demand participation in the decision making of their nation. For far too long, Arab and African nations have been ruled by kingdoms and governments like that in Egypt and Tunisia which might as well have been kingdoms.
On January 25th demonstrators, largely young and secular, using facebook and twitter, organized a massive gathering of Egyptians who were not able to take it anymore and were not going to go home until there was some serious change. Eighteen days later, Hosni Mubarak, the American-backed brutal dictator for 30 years finally resigned after first saying he would not meet the demands of the Egyptian people and instead unleashed the police and hired gangs who killed hundreds and injured thousands using American made and paid for weapons.
The Obama administration did not want Mubarak to go but at the same time had no problem dumping him if they can still maintain a subservient Egypt, one that did whatever Israel and America told it to do. Instead of focusing on how revolution in Egypt can affect the lives of Egyptians who sacrificed, too much attention has been paid to how Israel will be affected by change in Egypt. Who cares if this will bring equality and more freedoms to tens of millions of Egyptians, we need to know how it affects Israel, an apartheid state the United States supports and backs and that in many ways determines American policy in the region and around the world.
We’ve tried invasions of Muslim lands. We’ve tried imposing new systems of government on them. We’ve tried wars on terror. We’ve tried spending billions of dollars. What we haven’t tried is tackling what’s been rotten in the Arab world by helping a homegrown, bottom-up movement for change turn a U.S.-backed police state into a stable democracy.
What we haven’t tried? You read that and you think that 1) US wars are about battling terrorism, not expanding hegemony and stealing people’s resources; and 2) the US was driving force behind the Egyptian mass revolt. Such audacity and arrogance to claim the Egyptian people’s efforts.
Instead of a hollow congratulatory tone, Zionists like Cohen owe the Egyptian people apologies and reparations for having supported the Zionist entity, peace with which was the major reason behind US support for the Egyptian regime. See how just a few days ago he analyzed the Egyptian revolt within the framework of what’s good for Israel, forever the axis around which Zionists’ universe revolves:
Biery looked at me with his intense green eyes. “I’m here for my children, so they live better.” That’s a very American idea. Another is this: a nation of laws is fundamental. Mubarak has been a firm ally, kept a cold peace with Israel, and maintained a skewed order at home. I don’t want to see him humiliated. But Obama must stand with Biery against a corrupted, dying regime.
And what is so uniquely American about wanting a better life for one’s children? The old dehumanizing lie perpetuated during the Vietnam war that the Vietnamese didn’t love their children, is clearly still alive and well and extended to Arabs.
One of the top ways to disrespect a revolution is to use it as an opportunity to score cheap political points by praising your own local warmongering commander in chief and ignoring that Obama has sent military support to Mubarak since the former was inaugurated. CAIR has stated:
[Nihad] Awad said CAIR also welcomed President Obama’s statements in support of a “genuine transition” to democracy in Egypt. “President Obama demonstrated that he is on the right side of history by supporting the will of the Egyptian people,” said Awad.
Awad is supposed to know Arabic, so unlike James Zogby and Ray Hanania, one can’t give him the benefit of the doubt for failing to understand the Egyptian people’s outrage at numerous US administrations’ support for their dictator. In fact, the Egyptian people’s dissatisfaction with US support for Obama was even stated for him in plain English in mainstream media:
Anti-American sentiment in Egypt has percolated just below the surface in Egypt for years, exacerbated by the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Washington’s steadfast support for Israel.
While the current level of public antipathy remains relatively low, anti-U.S. placards have been popping up amid the anti-Mubarak posters in the streets. And some seeking an end to Mubarak’s three decades of rule are quick to cite what they see as American hypocrisy.
“They are just waiting to see which side wins and then they will claim to have backed them all along,” said Amin Iskander, an official of the El Karama party, an opposition group.
If you must state your congratulations to the Egyptian people along with praise for a US president who’d supported the target of their revolution, then better to ikhras, Nihad. You’re either hopelessly naive for believing damage-control statements politicians like Obama make and taking them at face value. Or you’re opportunistic. Either way, you’re an embarrassing spokesperson for US Muslims. Both you and Obama are on the wrong side of history on this and on many other issues.
The reaction of the Washington Arabs to the popular revolution in Egypt has served as a reminder of their hypocrisy and opportunism. It’s well established that in order for the members of the self-styled “Arab Lobby” in Washington to continue functioning on the margins of the political establishment, and ensure the presence of a few US officials at their annual conventions or galas, they are required to adopt not only the official Washington discourse, but also the mindset and political culture as well. This inherently racist political culture views the Arab world with contempt. The Arab or Muslim is viewed as naive and unsophisticated. Those who hold this view are willing to say anything no matter how outrageous, hypocritical, or contradictory it may be without regard for how such statements may be received or any respect for the ability of Arabs to evaluate the credibility or sincerity of those making the statements.
Now that the popular revolution in Egypt ousted the US-backed dictator the same Arab-Americans that maintained warm relations with the Egyptian embassy in Washington and representatives of the Mubarak regime are eager to “congratulate” the Egyptian people on their victory over tyranny. In a press release titled “The ADC congratulates the people of Egypt”, the “largest Arab-American grassroots organization in the US” said the following:
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) congratulates the people of Egypt on the successful peaceful movement toward a democracy which culminated this morning with the resignation of Hosni Mubarak as President. ADC also wishes the people of Egypt continued success in achieving the freedoms they seek.
The road to a democratic Egypt is not over, much uncertainty remains; however, the events of today are a big step forward.
This came from the organization that hosted officials of the Mubarak regime. routinely praised any Mubarak mouthpiece willing to attend one of their events, and at whose conventions the Egyptian Ambassador was a familiar face. Now that Mubarak is relaxing in a villa in Sharm Al-Sheikh or some other resort, the hypocrites at the ADC are congratulating the Egyptian people on their newly won freedom from the same tyrant whose ambassadors and representatives were hosted and “honored” by the ADC for decades.
James Zogby is never one to be outdone when it comes to careerism, hypocrisy, and hobnobbing with Arab officials and ambassadors. Less than one year ago Zogby was promoting Mubarak’s Ambassador in Washington, and enjoying a friendly chat with him on his weekly talk show carried on “Abu-Dobby” TV compliments of “Shake” Khalifa Bin Zayed. The former Egyptian dictator’s Ambassadors were also routinely hosted by Zogby’s one-man outfit, and Egyptian officials were Zogby’s partners and collaborators on issues of concern for the Arab-American community he appointed himself to represent.
Despite his well established relations with Arab embassies, including the Egyptian embassy, Zogby didn’t hesitate to issue a statement that including the following:
Now that Hosni Mubarak has been ousted by the Egyptians what should happen to the former dictator? His three decades of corruption, brutality, and repression are well known, but it doesn’t appear he is likely to stand trial for his crimes against the Egyptian people. The Egyptian revolutionaries were merciful towards their former tyrant, and are happy to just see him leave. But even if the Egyptians are content with him relinquishing power and getting out of their lives, there are others in the Arab world who might also want to put him on trial.
Mubarak’s list of crimes extends beyond the borders of the country he ruled. He collaborated with the Zionist entity against the Arab world for his entire tenure. His intelligence services were enlisted as sub-contractors for the CIA in a rendition to torture program for young men from various Arab countries. In the last few years his collaboration with the rulers of the Zionist state to impose a siege on the Palestinians of Gaza amounts to complicity in crimes against humanity. And he has spent the last year of his rule building, with the help of the American military, an underground steel wall to snuff out whatever life was left in Gaza. He also found time to help stir sectarian strife in Lebanon.
And then there is Iraq. Mubarak played a key role in the 1991 war on Iraq. After Iraqi troops entered the Kuwaiti province altering the regional balance of power and igniting a “crisis” for the Western imperialist powers there was an opportunity to resolve the situation and bring the incident to a quick resolution. It was Mubarak, acting on instructions from the American administration that scuttled all diplomatic efforts to prevent the internationalization of an inter-Arab issue, and then sent his army to join the Western military coalition that invaded the Arabian Peninsula and systematically destroyed Iraq. His thugs and business partners were rewarded handsomely for their political prostitution. The US and the American oil-colonies in the gulf erased about $20 Billion worth of debt.
Mubarak’s role in the US war on Iraq was part of his slavish subservience to all US diktats, and one of the reasons that saw Egypt’s formerly prominent role in the region diminish to that of a vassal state. The Egyptian people never understood why their country would be allied with the US against Iraq, just as they couldn’t understand why Egypt should be allied with Israel against the Palestinians. We know that in the 1991 war the Egyptian soldiers who were forced to participate were cheering on the Iraqi forces as they launched missiles on occupied Palestine 48. This disconnect between popular opinion and official policy increased the alienation of the regime from its own people, and was a contributing factor to the decades of built up resentment which culminated in the popular revolution. During the uprising it was evident that the Camp David regime’s regional role was one of the factors that contributed to the Egyptian people’s alienation from the regime.
It’s only natural that the toppling of the Egyptian dictator be celebrated across the Arab world. The celebratory Arab mood from Morocco to Bahrain is not only an affirmation of Arab Nationalism, but also a reaction of an entire nation that has been impacted by the tyranny and treason of Mubarak. Nowhere has this impact been more devastating than in Iraq. The Iraqi people have yet to wake from an over 20-year nightmare for which the Mubarak regime bears some responsibility along with the other Arab traitors and tyrants that will inevitably, sooner or later, meet the same fate as that of Mubarak.
Since the Egyptian revolutionaries are content with letting Mubarak leave the country, and Iraq remains occupied and administered by a US installed puppet regime, let’s start a new rendition-to-resistance program that leads to Mubarak being handed over to the Iraqi resistance fighters so they can exercise their own right to put him on trial for his crimes against the Iraqi people.
It seems that along with a political malaise a cultural malaise also sets in. In the Arab world that lead to Nancy Ajram and Haifa Wahbe, but since we’re now living through a new Egyptian revolution and Arab Nationalist awakening, let’s take a trip back in time and remember what the music was like in Gamal Abdul Nasser‘s days. Can’t wait to listen to the music and read the poetry of a new and free Egypt which has just taken the first step towards the Post-Camp David era.
Ikhras sends its heartfelt congratulations to the courageous Egyptian people on Mubarak’s resignation. The Egyptian revolt inspires people of conscience everywhere and presents valuable lessons on many levels. For Ikhras’ purposes, we would like to focus on one lesson in particular and send a message to House Arabs.
To all House Arabs who thought it was smart to be “strategic” and “work within the system”;
To all House Arabs who put careerism above human rights;
To all those House Arabs who had no faith in the power of Field Arabs and the ability of the Egyptian people to smash their chains;
We say to you: Ikhras! Either join the Field Arabs and fight the good fight or otherwise shut up.
Hussein Ibish is trying to defend his silence on the popular uprising against the Egyptian dictator, a pillar of US foreign policy in the region, and the closest Arab leader to Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad.
“Situations as unstable as this tend to bring out the very worst in political commentary. Under such volatile circumstances, commentators should be extremely careful, even though what most readers, editors and producers are looking for is exactly what commentary should avoid: what purports to be detailed political analysis of an unclear, unstable political reality, or, worse, vapid and indefensible prognostications…There are times when commentary needs to fall silent for a moment and let events sort themselves out,..”
Given Ibish’ role as the Washington concierge to PA officials, and his work for the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), the Washington public relations firm for the Israeli-sponsored, Western-funded, American-supervised collaborationist regime in occupied-Ramallah, he’s probably feeling a little uncomfortable watching the ground shake under the PA’s main ally in the Arab world.
Ibish’ attempt to defend his silence by advising caution in a fluid situation doesn’t pass the laugh test. He’s capable of writing a careful, measured piece that takes the fluidity of the situation in Tahrir Square into consideration. What Egypt is experiencing is a popular revolution that has already resulted in the murder of scores of unarmed protesters by a thuggish regime. If Ibish is concerned about hasty political analysis, prognosis, or predictions, this is exactly the moment where one may completely dispense with the “political commentary” and simply take a moral stance with the people of Egypt, which is really what Ibish is avoiding.
His failure to take this moral stance is most likely what prompted him to offer a rationalization for what he must know will not go unnoticed.
In the post below James Zogby does not say what he’s really thinking about Egypt. This is where the stupid Ray Hanania can be useful. He blurts out what Zogby only hints at:
The real threat to the Mubarak dictatorship is in fact the reason why he remains in control of that impoverished, oppressed country. The religious fanatics are the only alternative to Mubarak’s secular tyranny, and they offer an even more frightening future – devoid of any freedoms…The fanatics are a gathering storm in the Middle East, and the only answer so far has been dictatorship to prevent them from taking control in several Arab countries.
In his typical bland centrism, and cowardice James Zogby discusses the Egyptian uprising in a Washington framework. He does not condemn the US government’s decades of support for a tyrant, does not mention the US used him as a torture sub-contractor, and fails to mention the repression of the Egyptian people by a military junta supported with $1.5 Billion per year in order to maintain friendly relations with the Zionist state. Zogby also ignores US hypocrisy when it comes to democracy and human rights, and accepts all the required, false assumptions about an altruistic American foreign policy trying to do the right thing, in a difficult world.
None of this is surprising from the self-appointed representative of Arab-Americans interested in pursuing the false prestige he believes he attains by maintaining a petty role in the Democratic Party, or sitting with a US official. What is very despicable is Zogby’s failure to take a moral stance with the Egyptian people. He even goes so far as to suggest the Egyptian people’s fight for their freedom, dignity, and human rights may not be such a good thing, and therefore should not be supported:
“Don’t go supporting and sprinkling holy water on a revolution when you don’t who’s behind it and you don’t know where it’s going,” he said.
“Should we be in favor of greater democracy in the country? Of course. Should we be demanding human rights and protection of human rights? Of course, but we don’t know enough to be taking a side which is why I think the administration and the leadership in the House gets some points here for saying let’s be cautious, let be supportive but let’s not in fact push this too far.”