I’ve been following the situation in Egypt with fascination and hope. It’s amazing to see people hitting the streets to stand up for their rights and tell a tyrant they outright refuse his rule. It’s priceless to see a tyrant losing control, sending his family away, losing grasp as the people take back the cities. It gives me hope that even when things are bad, they can get better.1
A lot of Israeli coverage on the topic has been less enthusiastic of the prospect of change. Mubarak may be a tyrant, but he’s an American-backed tyrant who cooperates with the Israeli government (even actively taking part in the siege of Gaza). Whatever leadership arises from this revolution will almost certainly be less pro-Israeli.
The potential threat of a hostile Egypt, especially an Egypt friendly with Hamas and/or Iran, is a very scary prospect. The revolution appears to have taken the Israeli security establishment totally by surprise, and I hope our leaders are capable of managing whatever threat has arisen or will arise in the days to come.
Over on +972 Magazine, Lara Friedman says more or less what I’ve been thinking (except more eloquently): what’s happening in Egypt is scary for Israel, but it’s basically a good thing, and trying to delegitimize it for selfish reasons is not right.
This morning, I signed this petition (in Hebrew and English):
Israelis Support Freedom in Egypt
We, Israeli civil society activists and ordinary citizens, watch with awe at the bravery of Egyptian citizens fighting for freedom. All who support justice, and certainly every democracy must support the just demands of the Egyptian demonstrators.
We reject any claim that an anti-democratic regime is in our interest, whether it be for the sake of stability or the continuation of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. Such interests cannot justify an undemocratic Egypt.
Not many have signed it so far, but I think it’s truly important to show at least some of us Israelis can sympathize with the people of Egypt and view their revolution as fundamentally positive. I’d like the new regime that come out of this, whatever it is, to know Israelis looked their way not only with fear, but with hope and solidarity too.
- The many deaths, the looting, the general chaos, the violence — these are all a bit harder to watch. But there have been worse (attempted) revolutions, and a tyrant rarely gives up without resorting to violence first. I won’t try to figure out if it’s “worth it”; it’s what’s happening, and there’s both horror and beauty in it. [↩]