Powered by WebAds

Monday, February 14, 2011

Letter to an Egyptian intellectual

Yair Lapid pens a letter to an Egyptian intellectual.
Will you be annulling our peace treaty? Do you too intend to keep blaming us for all your country’s failures? Will you join forces with the Muslim Brotherhood in order to build yet another struggling Mideast state of woman-haters, democracy-haters, and Jew haters? Or perhaps I need to first ask you another question: What is your definition of an intellectual?

I do not expect you for a moment to agree with our policy towards the Palestinians; often I don’t agree with it either. However, intellectuals are people who are able to answer the question of “who am I?” not only through the question of “who am I against?” Intellectuals know how to answer the question “what God do I believe in?” not only through the question of “what God do I abhor?” Intellectuals can also answer the question of “what flag do I wave?” without having to answer the question of “what flag do I burn.”

Egypt has existed for more than 5,000 years now, you invented geometry, astronomy and paper, and you are an ancient, proud people that is responsible for its own fate. Nobody except you is responsible for what happened to you. Nobody except you is responsible for what is yet to come. I read the hateful publications in your newspapers, the calls for boycott, the clearly anti-Semitic statements, and instead of getting mad I ask myself: How is it that the claim that we’re to blame for all your troubles doesn’t insult you?


You are an educated person, my friend, you read all the great works, ranging from Rousseau’s On the Social Contract to Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy, and you know just like I do – or even better than me – that hatred is the pathetic, dangerous comfort of those who do not love themselves. Look inside you for a moment, take a good, deep look, and tell me: Is Israel truly the source of all of Egypt’s troubles? Don’t you know, deep in your heart, that this is a ridiculous claim?

Does Israel prevent young Egyptians from finding honest work offering decent pay? Did we prompt your officials to plunder the public coffers? Did we forge your election results? Did we prevent you from building a public healthcare system? And what about an education system? Modern agriculture? Developed industry? And even if we wanted to do all that, do you really think we’d be able to? Believe me, my friend, we’re not that talented. We too have our own troubles, our own poor people, and even our own bullets, which murder leaders who dare dream.

Intellectuals are people who manage the world in their head. They look at life and try to see some kind of truth, and if they cannot find it, they attempt to create it. You have an opportunity to rebuild your country, but do you wish to premise it on truth, or on a wicked, pathetic lie that will doom you to another 100 years of anger?
No, I don't agree with all he says, but read the whole thing.

Labels: , ,


At 8:30 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

There are thoughtful Arabs who would agree with it but its a minority view in the Arab World.

We can only hope they help to steer the debate in their societies to a more positive future - which will not come overnight. They deserve our support and encouragement.

Let's pray and hope they succeed.


Post a Comment

<< Home