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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Egypt: One nation for a new Holocaust

When the Israeli embassy in Cairo was attacked last month, many people likened the attack to the attack on the American embassy in Tehran in 1979. But Samuel Tadros writes that this attack was different. The attack in Tehran was carried out by Islamists. The Islamists were not involved in the attack in Cairo. The Cairo attack was carried out by many different secular groups in Egypt that agree on one thing: They want another Holocaust to kill Jews. There's a link in the middle of this article to a YouTube video - I'm embedding the video below, because I watched it and found it deeply disturbing.
Islamists pose a real threat to freedom, but they are hardly the only ones. Populist demagogues are no less dangerous, neither is the odd mixture of demonstrators made up of a mix of Trotskyites, anarchists, and Nasserites. These groups have no real commitment to freedom, and they are obviously no less anti-Semitic than the Islamists. The fact is that anti-Semitism is the daily bread of Egyptian politics.

Perhaps nothing captures this grim image better than the phrase, "One Nation for New Holocaust," which was displayed on a huge banner held by thousands of hardcore soccer fans, known as the Ultras, as seen in a YouTube video bearing the same title. Despite being completely apolitical, the Ultras were at the forefront of the embassy attack, perhaps in retaliation for police violence in a recent game, flying Egyptian flags with a swastika in place of the Eagle of Saladin. Referring to Egypt’s agreement to sell natural gas to Israel, the demonstrators chanted, "We will export no gas, we shall burn you with gasoline" (it rhymes in Arabic).

Thankfully, the attack did not end with the same result as the one in 1979, and none of the embassy staff was hurt or taken hostage, but it points out to a larger problem, one that is becoming hard to ignore.

The attack on the Israeli embassy is yet another manifestation of the decline of U.S. power and influence in the region. Perhaps Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was sincere in thanking President Obama for using "all the means and influence of the U.S." to bring the situation at the embassy to a peaceful conclusion. Still, it is not clear what it means if it takes the U.S. secretary of defense two hours to reach his Egyptian counterpart on the phone.

The U.S. has helped bring down the regional order it has so tirelessly built for years and has not provided an alternative order. The result has been a worsening of relations between pillars of U.S. policy and a volatile situation that might well lead to regional conflict. The fact that regional leaders seem to have no appetite for war is not a consolation. Neither did Nasser in 1967, yet he still found himself driven to war by inter-Arab dynamics. While the names of the players have changed, with the Qatari Al Jazeera replacing Cairo Radio, those dynamics are still in play today. Politics in the region continues to be shaped by an Arab Cold War that is perhaps more dangerous with the proliferation of non-state actors such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda.
Let's go to the videotape.

Aren't you glad we got rid of Mubarak? Read the whole thing.

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