Plenty of western commentators have asserted that the attention that participants in the Arab Spring have been paying to governance issues in their own countries means that somehow they no longer really care about Palestine. (A few people, most notably As’ad Abou-Khalil, have challenged that assertion. Over the past 22 months As’ad has repeatedly highlighted news items from the Arab Spring countries that clearly indicate a deep concern for Palestine.)
Right now, downtown Cairo is the scene of extremely serious discussions and clashes over Egyptian governance/constitutional issues. The fact that, at such a time, more than 500 Egyptian social activists– including several of the leaders of last year’s revolution– have taken time out to make the lengthy and very dangerous trip to Gaza to express solidarity with its people in the present crisis is very significant.
You can read a good (English-language) account of the group’s visit to Shifa Hospital, here.
Note the important evaluation voiced there by Ragia Omran, a prominent Egyptian women’s rights activist and leader in the anti-Mubarak/anti-SCAF movement last year– and today, and one of organizers of the convoy to Gaza:
- “Thank you Gaza, thank you for finally making the fragmented political public speak in one voice. Thank you for uniting us once again.
“The pro-Palestine protests and movements in Egypt following the Second Intifada were the building blocks for the January 25 Revolution.”
Indeed they were.
Perhaps all those people in the Obama administration– which is, at this point, just about all of them–who take seriously only the views, interests, and politics of that tiny portion of Middle Easterners who are Jewish Israelis, could come up with more effective and humane policies for the region if they based their analyses instead on these few simple ideas:
- the idea that ALL the 300 million people of the region are equally human and thus equally deserving of rights;
- the idea that ALL the region’s countries have complex internal political dynamics that need to be understood; and
- the idea that you can’t for long maintain a policy in the region that is based only on the (sometimes rather fanatic) preferences of just the 6.5 million Jewish-Israeli residents of Fortress Israel.