الأحد، سبتمبر 11، 2011

A Message to Netanyahu: What Makes a Good Neighbor


If you have been witnessing the recent events in Cairo, especially those related to your Embassy in Giza, with confusion, I would like to explain this from one Egyptian perspective. First, I want you to know that with the exception of "justice", Egyptians value nothing more than peace. Since the fourth millennium B.C., Egyptians have adopted, under various banners and religions, the Ma'at value system. Ma'at itself being a revered goddess, symbolizing a moral code of justice, harmony, goodness and being good to your neighbor. Egyptians valued peace out of necessity. Only with peace could the land be planted with wheat fields needed to make Egyptian bread. Only through cooperation with one’s neighbors could one persuade the Nile into flowing through the oldest irrigation network Man had ever known. Perhaps other climates and habitats made it necessary for nomadic tribes to adopt more aggressive methods, lifestyles and value systems, where hardships of living in the desert made it occasionally necessary or acceptable to raid lands or water sources belonging to neighboring tribes for survival.

Over several thousand years, Egypt developed its agricultural society in a peaceful state of relative isolation. The valley was like an invincible island in an ocean of sand. But once neighboring tribes developed wheeled warrior wagons, chariots, the equation was challenged. Egyptians learned quickly that for peace and justice to prevail, force to defend that peace was necessary, also for survival. Egyptians soon learned how to deal with regional bullies with the only language they seemed to understand. And when Egyptians blinked forgetting that lesson, Egypt was colonized for some 2000 years. That lesson is too long for any nation to forget.

Now, coming to current events. I must level with you. I am against storming Embassies, including yours, as a matter of principle. I, like wide majority of Egyptians, believe in peace. Even in anger and protest, we strive to control ourselves and express our rage in a peaceful manner. Perhaps you have learned about our revolutions. Whether in 1805, 1919, 1952 and #Jan25, in all these revolutions we expressed monumental anger in a relatively peaceful manner. But for some reason, you keep rubbing us the wrong way. We signed a peace treaty with you more than thirty years ago, yet, we are still to see Palestinians getting their rights. Palestinian rights, I hope you will soon understand if you have not done so already, lies in the core of our quarrel with you. Our people see the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and get angrier everyday. We see pictures of children killed by your war machine and we shake our heads in total resentment. We come to wonder, if you intend to have a peaceful future in this region, your actions comprise the worst PR strategy you can ever think of. Living in a neighborhood, one must earn respect and trust of one's neighbors. This requires more than power or even wisdom. This requires politeness and courtesy.


A helicopter under your command killed a number of Egyptian soldiers recently on our borders. You claim this was done by mistake. Yet, you and your government refused to apologize for these tragic deaths. Why? Did you think you are too good to apologize to the families of these soldiers and to their fellow Egyptians? Just because you are shielded from Security Council's condemnation with the abuse of US veto power, did you think that you do not answer to anyone anymore?


There were times, not so long ago, when our own government would shield you from the anger of our people. Today, no one can shield you from the consequences of your actions, except you yourself. The golden rule is revived, believe it or not, "treat thy neighbor as you wish to be treated". Again, I am against storming your embassy, but I must remind you that sprinkling salt on the wound will always aggravate people into uprisings which governments can no longer control. 


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