Aired August 31, 2013 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: http://youtu.be/6jZy0FXcg1E
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of September 1st, 2013.
Oy, Egypt, Egypt, Egypt. Doesn’t it figure that the one country in the Arab world that seemed stable, the one place that wasn’t a scary mess of Islamic Jihad and anti-West anti-Semitism, Egypt, would collapse into chaos?
Forty years ago, Anwar Sadat made a brilliantly savvy political move – albeit a lousy personal one since it got him shot – but for the good of Egypt, he signed a peace treaty with Israel. And against all odds, it lasted! It was real. There was peace, there was economic and cultural exchange, there was falafel everywhere. Israel had a million things to worry about in the Middle East, but Egypt, which had been our worst military enemy, wasn’t one of them.
And Egypt took a Western approach to its politics. So Western, that they ended up copying our own runaway corruption. Hasni Mubarak, who succeeded Anwar Sadat – about the only thing he succeeded in – ran the country for 30 years until being deposed by the military. And then, for his replacement, they hold democratic elections. Great, right?
Not so great; the winner is Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood. Which is basically Al Qaeda Lite. Young Egyptians hate this, because with radical Muslims in charge, Egypt is destined to slide into the same soul-crushing totalitarianism that made Afghanistan and Iran such glorious vacation hotspots. So what happens? There’s an uprising, the people protest and riot, and the Egyptian military pulls Morsi out of office and takes over.
This does not sit well with the Muslim Brotherhood, so they show their brotherly love by rioting, pillaging and forcing the army to crack down and make a police state. Meanwhile, the military are busy trying to drum up some kind of revised constitution and figuring out how to hold elections before the whole country implodes. In Egypt, every day is like the night the Steelers win the Super Bowl; if you weren’t in the car when they were overturning it and setting it on fire, you’re ahead of the game.
Now, the Egypt situation is more complicated than others in the Middle East because they were getting along with America and Israel. Mubarak was no great shakes as a leader, but he held to the treaties and kept things on an even keel. I’ve been on an uneven keel, and let me tell you, I got so nauseous, I almost keeled over. Of course, in those situations, it’s keel or be keeled, but I digress.
Egypt holds free and democratic elections, and the last guy in the world America wants in there wins. So, we’re happy when the army discards him, but at the same time, what kind of democracy is it when the people elect a leader, and a year later, the army says, “Ehhhh, Do over, do over!”
I mean, imagine if in this country, we have an election, the popular vote goes to one candidate, but there are problems and miscounts and shenanigans, so the Supreme Court takes over and appoints the president based on the judges’ political leanings rather than the actual voting. Thank God, something like that could never happen here.
So both America and Israel are mired in wait-and-see limbo when it comes to Egypt. If we support the army, that means we rejected the election process. If we support the Morsi Muslims, well, we might as well just send over pilot-training manuals so they can get started on the next 9/11. We’re shtupped either way.
Whatever happened to the good old days when the CIA would muscle into a country, assassinate the dictator, and prop up some crooked but pro-Western puppet with billions of our tax dollars? What’s the point of being a Superpower if you can’t be superpowerful? We used to look out for number one. Now all these countries submerge us in number two.
That said, I do really wish the Egyptians well, and I hope – against all hope – that they can somehow form a coalition government. One that puts modernized moderates in charge but allows right-wingers a voice and the freedom to worship as they please – which, since it’s the exact opposite of what they allow, will cause their heads to explode. Hey, a guy can dream.
Until then, we would do best to recall that twice the Egyptians have done the impossible: they built the pyramids, and they stunned the rest of the Arab world by making nice-nice with Israel. So is it too much to ask for another miracle? Oh wait, I’m still hoping for that one about the Jets winning another Super Bowl. Quel dommage.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.
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