Translation of selected parts from Benny Ziffer's disgusting article about Egypt
Benny Ziffer a leftist “liberal” commentator on Haaretz wrote this piece today, proving that you don’t have to be a right-winger in Israel in order to be racist Orientalist. Reports in the Israeli media about the uprising in Egypt are full of stereotypes that I’ve discussed at length here, but this piece is disgusting even according to Israeli media standards. Below are selected parts of the article
How Much I would like to be in Cairo now! But not to join the protesters, but the opposite, join the silent and sober majority that isn’t protesting and wants the old order to return. The silent majority that understands that the reasons to Egypt’s problems isn’t one president or another, but many reasons that have nothing to do with the government. The problems are with the people themselves, the Egyptian society, religion, and a thousand other reasons.
Ziffer continues to say that the protesters will be crushed and things will return to how they are right now.
I was in Cairo a few days after the parliamentary elections [recent rigged parliamentary elections, which resulted in the NDP taking 97% of the seats - E]. I asked people what party they voted for. The vast majority of Egyptians didn’t vote at all. Seemingly, they had the opportunity to try to change their government in a democratic way, but they didn’t do so because in Egypt there is an in-build despair, a thousand-year-old despair. People busy themselves with smoking hashish, one night stands and fantasies. Sometimes these fantasies are taken seriously. Like in the case before us: the fantasy that if they burn cars and tiers, something fundamental will change in Egypt.
Ziffer goes on to say that the protests are tiny compared to Cairo’s size, without acknowledging massive demonstrations outside of Cairo.
The only serious alternative to Mubarak and people like him is a radical Islamist rule. And this, the Egyptians instinctively understand that they don’t want. What do they want? It’s hard to know, because the Egyptians are a great people, really great, whose charm is exactly that they don’t know what they want, and are waiting for someone on top to decide for them what to do. And when that someone decides for them, first they fear him and then they hate him. This is how it was with Nasser, whom people wanted gone at the end of his days, and then came Sadat, who was seen as a savior of sorts, but after a while the Egyptians also got tired of him and the end of that story is known. Now this is happening with Mubarak. Nothing new.
I always repeat the saying by the French-Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran that the most corrupt regime will always be better than the best-intentioned revolution. Because no one dies from corruption, but in revolutions people die, die because of the excitement of one side or another. Are the riots in Egypt worth so much that people should die for them?
But what’s even more annoying about this romantic excitment seeing people revolt is that this excitement abroad encourages the Egyptians to continue with their uprising. The naive protesters don’t understand that no one will come to save them when the regime comes back, takes the reigns and crushes them. Just two months ago there was an uprising of the Copts in some towns in Egypt and many died. And what did they get out of this? Who came to help them? Their Christian brothers worldwide? The Pope? No one. [Following a Church bombing in Alexandria on January 1st, many Copts, along with Muslim Egyptians, came out to protest the lack of security. This was not an attempt for an uprising, and the Muslims of Egypt did come to the help of their Copt countrymen in the protests and by attending Christmas Masses in Coptic churches all over Egypt, acting as human shields against radical Islamist terrorists - E].
Ziffer goes on to say that that Israel and the IDF act worse than the Egyptian regime in the occupied Palestinian territories and that Israelis should keep quiet about Egypt. Then he adds that Egypt has had corruption for thousands of years and despite that its culture flourished.
Mubaraks’ reign has been a pretty good period, where Cairo and its historical sites have undergone a massive renovation, using foreign and local donations. New and modern cities have been established around Cairo. [12 million Egyptians live in slums, as of 2010, seven million of them around Cairo and Giza alone. The number of people living in slums is only increasing - E]. As someone who has visited Egypt non-stop over the last 30 years, I see a huge change for the better. It would be stupid to lay a death blow to all of this. Because Mubarak successfully maintains the balance between Westernism [Ziffer’s made-up word - E] and tradition, and succeeds in presenting a positive image of Egypt to the West. All of this will be over, God forbid, if Egypt becomes a second Iran and an enemy of the West. Oh, Egypt, case away your dreams and sober up, please, before it’s too late.
What the Obama administration really thinks of Mubarak
In a statement yesterday Hillary Clinton claimed that “our assessment is that the Egyptian Government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” [Emphasis added]
One: Raising the minimum wage to 1,200 EGP and providing subventions to the unemployed.
Two: Ending the State of Emergency which has been caused a long paralysis to the Egyptian civil and political life for more than 3 decades, and releasing all the detainees who are prisoned with no definite charges.
Three: Dissolution of the People’s Assembly of Egypt, the Egyptian Parliament, and changing the constitution to limit the presidential terms to two only.
Clinton claimed in her statement that Mubarak is looking for ways to respond to these demands. Now let’s examine what the Obama administration really thinks of Mubarak’s attempts, for example, to end the state of emergency. The state of emergency in Egypt, which has lasted almost without interruption since 1967, gives Egyptian authorities nearly unrestrained power.
The Obama administration has been most outspoken regarding the emergency laws, whose renewal it regards as a broken promise. It has also publicly condemned the June murder of blogger Khaled Saeed, who was dragged out of an Internet café and beaten to death on the street. He had recently posted a video online exposing police corruption. IPS, Nov 15, 2010
The Obama administration is also concerned, he suggested, that its previous diplomatic efforts to press Cairo in private conversations and in written statements to repeal its Emergency Law and to accept international elections monitors have been rejected or ignored. Politico, Nov 2, 2010
Too bad Clinton didn’t think it was wise to say in public what Washington thinks in private. Too bad she didn’t voice her frustration with Mubarak’s authoritarian and unyielding rule.
“With respect to Egypt, which, as your question implied, like many countries in the region, has been experiencing demonstrations. We know that they’ve occurred not only in Cairo but around the country, and we’re monitoring that very closely. We support the fundamental right of expression and assembly for all people, and we urge that all parties exercise restraint and refrain from violence. But our assessment is that the Egyptian Government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”—
“This is not to say that people should self-censor and default to muted political correctness, another cul de sac. But a more nuanced reflection would be helpful, one that focuses on social exclusion, poverty, the climate in Muslim cultures of origin and real, existing negative practices – rather than banging on about verses in the Qur’an. More often than not Islam is brought up to avoid tackling the more complicated and emotive topics of immigration and integration. It is convenient shorthand for Muslims as well, where religion is closely tied to search for identity and expression, and Islamophobia an easy cop out from seriously engaging and claiming responsibility for community isolation.”—Religion may be a red herring when it comes to anti-Islam sentiment | Nesrine Malik | Comment is free, Jan 24, 2011
Just watched a TV movie starring Hillary Swank about the women’s suffrage movement in the US (hat tip for recommending the movie: VanderSister - Hebrew). The movie was quite interesting. It’s clear that whoever made it cares about this issue and cares about women. And yet, even this movie couldn’t avoid the objectification of women in it. Other than the poster, which illustrates my point, the movie also contained two scenes that did nothing to further the plot (at least in my opinion) their only purpose being to “sexify” the movie.
The first scene is when the women suffragists are getting dressed to go to a dinner party. The scene could also be interpreted as poking fun of the typical “women getting dressed” scenes in Hollywood (one of the most memorable ones is the opening scene of “Pretty Woman”) because of the antique under-garments the women wore. However, the second scene doesn’t seem to have any purpose other than “sexifying” the movie. In it, Hillary Swank’s character, Alice Paul, is seen pleasuring herself in a bath. The scene is mixed with another scene where she and the main male protagonist are seen dancing in a field.
Still, a great movie and I would recommend it to anyone.