Tag Archive for Egyptian Revolution

House Arabs no ally to Occupy Wall Street

American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee’s ex Media Director and current senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine’s Hussein Ibish wrote the following, encouraging a hierarchical power structure in the Occupy Wall Street over its current decentralized, grassroots format:

The Occupy Wall Street movement, by contrast, shows no signs of being mobilized by a political party or organization to create real change in politics or policy. Any movement so broad-based, leaderless (though there are some organizers who can be identified) and, frankly, unfocused runs the risk of simply fizzling out without leaving any lasting legacy … Arabs should be very familiar with this conundrum. The Egyptian experience in particular has shown the limitations of a leaderless, spontaneous movement. It creates momentum but cannot harness it. That can only be done by organized political groupings.

Gigi Ibrahim

Ibish’s own previous statements undermine the value of the above unsolicited advice to Occupy Wall Street. His concern is more about tailoring popular discourse to his own taste than preserving the movement’s influence. A case in point: he recently reprimanded Egyptian revolutionary Gigi Ibrahim for her criticisms of some Egyptian activists’ lobbying on Capitol Hill.

Ms. Ibrahim had battled Mubarak’s hoodlums in the streets and endured tear gassings and beatings from the Egyptian military. Nevertheless, she became the object of Hussein Ibish and Arab American Institute’s Omar Baddar’s criticisms for rejecting the idea that meaningful change could come from the same institutions of power that had enabled Mubarak, armed Israel and waged wars, occupations and sanctions on millions of Arabs.

Ignorant or Deceitful?

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.  Below 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 deliberately making a false statement.

Related article: Mona Eltahawy speaks to J Street, but who is she speaking for?

More Proof Eltahawy is Wrong on Israel

Mona Eltahawy recently proclaimed at a J Street conference that during the Egyptian revolution:

“not one anti-Israeli or anti-American sentiment was expressed”

Reality suggests otherwise. In what Asa Winstanley characterizes as a “horrible, patronising article,” Amira Hass laments that she was unable to find anyone who would give her an interview.

Me: “Hello, I received your telephone number from the journalist, X.” He: “Please, I’m at your disposal.” Me: “My name is so and so, I have been living in Ramallah for the past X years and I write for the newspaper Haaretz.” He: “No, I don’t deal with the Zionist entity.”

He was polite but determined. And he is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hass goes on to describe the categories of Egyptians who refused to give her an interview. While details vary, all categories hold in common categorical rejection of normalization with “Israel,” or even the appearance thereof.

Get the hint ya Mona. Your normalization with Israel is not shared with or appreciated by your fellow Egyptians. Your Arabic is presumably better than Amira Hass’, so how could you possibly still be blinded to Egyptians’ rejection of Israel? If you can’t renounce your normalization with Israel, it’s better to just ikhrasi.

Related articles:

Who does Mona Eltahawy think she’s fooling?

Mona Eltahawy speaks to J Street, but who is she speaking for?

Israel Normalizer Mona Eltahawy

Manji Gives Out Racist Tips to Brave Egyptian Women

Orientalist Art: Harem Fountain by Frederick A. Bridgman

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”.

Arab Voices Don’t Matter to James Zogby

House Arabs’ hypocrisy, inconsistency and self-contradiction are appalling. James Zogby’s piece in today’s Counterpunch would’ve led you to think he’d spent the last four decades of his life in the trenches of Egypt with his ear to the ground. For Zogby, the overthrow of Mubarak is a cheap opportunity to present himself as in tune with the populace’s demands. Sentences like this could understandably come from any of the millions of Egyptians who spent the last few weeks revolting against their tyrant:

The problem of not listening to Arab voices is not only a problem for those presidents who have fallen or those who are still at risk; it is a problem for the West as well. For too long, the US, Great Britain and others have ignored the concerns and sensibilities of Arab people.

Failure to listen is as much as a problem for James Zogby as it is for Arab presidents and the West. How can someone who had hosted Mubarak’s ambassador on his show and hosted Mubarak’s foreign minister now pretend he was on the people’s side all along? Hosting representatives of the Mubarak regime conveys disregard for the Arabs whose opinions he feigns to care about. Just a few days into the uprising, Zogby was adamant about ignoring popular will: “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.”

Zogby writes:

It will no longer be possible to operate as if Arab public opinion does not matter.

Does that mean he’ll be shutting down AAI and Viewpoint soon? Here’s to hoping.

CAIR and the Egyptian Revolution

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.

Congratulations to the Egyptian People!

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 those House Arabs and opportunists who were silent about Mubarak’s crimes and collaboration with the US and Israel;

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.