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On the side of the Pharoahs?

This is a cross post by Marc

Well it’s official! The Jewish people just aren’t happy enough about the unfolding revolution in Egypt. We know we aren’t because Howard Cooper has taken us all to task for it in The Guardian’s Comment is Free. On the Side of the Pharaoh’s is the name of the post where we are shamed for our lack of interest in Egyptian affairs. Cooper spends an entire article explaining why he is so disappointed with his people though nowhere (naturally) does he actually say who it is that has him feeling this way. The line that sums it up for me is this;

I was saddened by the predominantly muted and apprehensive response to these uplifting events from many of my fellow Jews in the UK and in Israel.

Now it is not my intent to get into an argument with regards to Israel and the opinions expressed by Bibi with regards to the fall of Mubarak. What I take exception to is the presumption that Jewish organizations should be forced into expressing an opinion either way on this or any other issue. I am not sure who exactly it is that Cooper is referring to when he talks about the “muted and apprehensive response” to these events but the deafening silence may well be because we are all normal people who happen to be born to a particular religion rather than being superheroes who are constantly on vigil to do something about worldwide strife.

I think that a pretty eloquent argument could be made incorporating some of what Cooper says about Jewish fear for the future and how this may or may not affect the Arab-Israeli peace process and/or inter community relations. He seems to be alluding to these things when he says;

Is it because this begrudging Jewish response has been dictated not by a recognition of the power of the human spirit to overcome oppression, but by fear?

There is a trap laid here. To argue with this point of view one way or another is to accept the fundamental presumption that it is possible to know what the ‘Jewish community’ (whatever that is) thinks or feels and that we should all be expected to take a stance. Come to think of it I am not sure which section/organ/branch of international Jewry is responsible for Egyptian revolutions that could stand up and provide an opinion.

I don’t know how Jews feel about the revolution in Egypt. I would imagine that there is about the same divergence of thought amongst us as there is in the rest of the population of the world. I just can’t see the logic behind The Guardian publishing a post that essentially says organised Jewry (without identifying any particular sect, organization or individual) is afraid and therefore is not applauding the fall of the Mubarak regime. I very much doubt that there will be any posts telling any other religious or ethnic groups how they should feel about international affairs.

Naturally it’s not as bad if it’s a Jew standing up and criticising Jews everywhere, right? Wrong! He reminds me of the character Rabbi Bengelsdorf in Phillip Roth’s The Plot Against America (slightly).

Alan A adds

Here is the Israeli President, Shimon Peres:

The current events in the Middle East were “full of hope,” Peres said, that “the moderate, the young, those who want democracy will win, and not the tyrants, the dictators, nor the corrupt.”

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