Guardian

Mohammad Talat’s Tahrir Square Haggadah


The demonization of Israel in the Middle East is so pervasive – bigotry embedded in the very fabric of their societies – that even relative liberals can’t avoid expressing hateful invectives against the Jewish state even as they nominally support the implementation of Israeli-style democratic values.

In “Jailing Maikel Nabil betrays the Egyptian people’s revolution“, CiF, April 24, Mohammad Talat, an assistant professor of civil engineering at Cairo University, condemns the arrest and conviction of Egyptian blogger, and pro-Israel activist, Maikel Nabil, who was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on 10 April by a military tribunal on the charge of “insulting the army.

Talat – in an essay curiously cross posted by the Jewish anti-Zionist hate site, Mondoweiss – noted Nabil’s “crime”,

“On 4 February, he uploaded a YouTube video asking his “Israeli friends” to support the Egyptian people’s demand for democracy, because “democracy, human rights and women’s rights are basic Israeli values”. He promised that this would end the cold peace and usher in a new era of real peace, concluding that “democracies do not fight each other”.

Talat then condemned Nabil’s persecution:

In post-Mubarak Egypt, I like to think that dissent gets treated by reason, not silencing. Maikel Nabil deserves a live TV interview, not a prison cell.

But then pivoted to distance himself from Nabil’s political apostasy.

 I’d like to see how he’d reconcile his praise of Israel’s democratic values with its reality of systematic ethnic discrimination; his claim of pacifism with Israel’s perpetual militarism; his call for abolishing the one-year mandatory service for non-exempt Egyptian male college graduates…with Israel’s two to three-year service for all high-school graduates, male and female, in which their innocence is wasted humiliating and shooting at civilians” [emphasis mine]

Talat then lists the ways Israel can reconcile with Egypt:

The only meaningful way Israelis can build bridges with post-Mubarak Egypt is by invoking justice, not power….come clean and pay reparations for the murders of Egyptian PoWs in the six-day war of 1967; for the subsequent pillaging of Sinai resources; for the bombing of Bahr el-Baqar primary school in 1970; and push for renegotiating the Camp David accords, which most Egyptians regard as instituting an unfair and undignified power dynamic.

Clearly, to maintain any credibility in Egyptian society one must continue to rewrite history as to avoid learning even the most obvious political lessons of their destructive past.  Such fictions include presenting Egypt as the victim of the Six Day War, a war they initiated in cooperation with five other Arab states, the aim of which was spelled out by Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser to cheering masses in Cairo days before the conflict:

“Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight . . . The mining of Sharm el Sheikh is a confrontation with Israel. Adopting this measure obligates us to be ready to embark on a general war with Israel.” – Nasser, May 27, 1967

But, in the alternative reality inhabited by even relatively progressive voices like Talat, there is never even a slight learning curve. Arabs are immutable victims of Israeli aggression.

As, seemingly, the “humiliation” associated with the mere suggestion of Jewish or Israeli superiority is too much to bear for a true Arab nationalist, Talat closes by lecturing the Jewish state:

“[Israelis need] to take inspiration [from the Arab masses revolting against their despotic leaders] and reject the racist fear-mongering apparatus that rules them”.

“On Passover, I usually fast to celebrate the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. Wouldn’t it feel right to celebrate one day the deliverance of the Israelis through Egypt? Since 25 January, millions of Egyptians have taken their fate in their hands and are on the march with it. Seize the day, take yours, and come meet us down the road.”

You hear that? Israel, who leads Egypt, by leaps and bounds, in every conceivable political, social, and economic measurement, is in need of political inspiration from the streets of Cairo – and a new Passover narrative.

The new Haggadah which Talat envisions will one day tell the tale of a Jewish people set free from the cruel democracy, insidious liberty, and unbearable prosperity which enslaved them in Israel, and which delivered them (with an outstretched Egyptian military arm) to the promised land of religious intolerance, despotism, and economic failure – a Passover tale which could only be told by the Guardian Left.

12 replies »

  1. Adam

    I pasted some of your poat on talat’s piece this post into CIF with link back to CIFwatch. I trust that’s OK with you…

  2. Adam

    I pasted some of your post on talat’s piece into CIF with link back to CIFwatch. I trust that’s OK with you…

    … was removed within an hour!

  3. fair enough. have pasted bigger slice, omitting link to CIfwatch. will grauniad pass the freedom of expression test?

  4. It’s still there at the time of posting, Zeitgoose. It’s the link to Cifwatch they particularly don’t like.

  5. Thanks zeitgoose. Look on the bright side: For up to an hour, Guardian readers had the privilege of reading your political apostasy;-)

  6. Guardian would never publish a muslim named writer unless they couched in criticisms of israel.

    it truly is dangerous to be muslim and not have a raging firey hatred for israel and jewish rights.

    it wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t so ignorant of his own country’s status as a racist apartheid.

    the treatment of copts and blacks cannot be described in words, they are hated and denied basic services. they cant even build churches without the explicit permission of egypt.

  7. It took me 4 seconds to suss out this Talat Mohammad,they must have got him at bargain basement prices,the guy is downright dumb.His blog was dumb,and Dumber commissioned an article by him.

    The Guardian is embarrassing itself by these silly articles written by these silly
    authors,br.

  8. A lesson in pesach from the state that ethnically cleansed itself of pretty much all its non- or anti-Zionist Jews.

    Talk about denial…

    The trouble is is that it’s a denial in which much of the western media, such as The Guardian, connives.

  9. Abban Aziz,

    Every Muslim-majority state is a de facto apartheid state. If governed by shariah law, then the state itself enforces the subclass status of non-Muslims; if not, the Muslim population does so.

    Muslim criticism of Israel as “apartheid state” is rank hypocrisy on their part.

  10. Thank you for your review. Unfortunately, it is rather replete with inaccuracies. In the interest of a good-faith discussion, I will limit the rhetoric and focus on the facts in the next 3 points:

    1. You say “Talat … noted Nabil’s ‘crime’: On 4 February, he uploaded a YouTube video ‘…” I did not say that Nabil had committed any crime. I did not say that he was jailed for his YouTube posting, as your out-of-context quote implies.

    2. You say ” Clearly, to maintain any credibility in Egyptian society one must continue to rewrite history as to avoid learning even the most obvious political lessons of their destructive past. Such fictions include presenting Egypt as the victim of the Six Day War, a war they initiated.” Again, you put words in my mouth. I did not mention responsibility for the six-day war. I only discussed Israel’s responsibility for killing Egyptian prisoners of war, and for extracting resources from an occupied territory. Both of these violations are irrelevant to who started the war.

    3. You refer to me off-hand as a “true Arab nationalist.” I do not know where in my writing you found that.

    Less important comments:

    4. You say “[Talat] pivoted to distance himself from Nabil’s political apostasy.” This is a derogatory way of saying that I stated my opinion. Not only extreme dissidents like Maikel Nabil are entitle to theirs.

    5. You say “You hear that? Israel, who leads Egypt, by leaps and bounds, in every conceivable political, social, and economic measurement, is in need of political inspiration from the streets of Cairo.” Note that tens of thousands in Wisconsin and London found no indignation in embodying the spirit of Cairo streets. Your statement embodies the essence of the problem – arrogance and a sense of exclusivity. I choose to be part of the solution.

    6. Your title mocks my “Tahrir Square Haggadah. “ Let me tell you that the Haggadah I read on Pesach is indeed a Tahrir -i.e. Liberation- Haggadah. It uses “with the nations” instead of “over the nations” among other such changes. This is what I look forward and invite others to.

    Even though the tone of your review is quite negative, you have yet to point to one fallacy, one inaccuracy, or one deception in my article. So far I can only see misquotes, sarcasm, insinuations, and deflection from the issues I raise to other issues you prefer to address.

    One “line” of comments on your review takes the attitude of “look at discrimination in Egypt before you talk about Israel.” In addition to contending that resorting to this line is intellectually bankrupt, I’d like to point out that the Egyptian people have revolted under the slogans “dignity, liberty, and social justice.” They are working to address the structural problems that have been kept in place for so long. Hence, exactly, is my invitation to Israeli civil society to get rid of their structural underpinnings of social injustice at a time when there is enough flux to make cross-border acceptance more likely.

    Another “line” of comments on your review resorts to name-calling. I always found that to say more about the comment’s author than their subject matter.

    Final word: It took me years to lose a lot of my prejudice. I do not expect you to lose yours overnight. When you do, and I hope you do before it’s irrelevant, don’t feel discouraged to reach out.