So 2 days ago there were major protests around Cairo, including marches that started from different points and ended up in Tahrir. Around mid-day, a protest began outside the Israeli embassy, largely in response to the huge, concrete wall the military had built around the embassy the previous week. This was seen as humiliating, since it followed the killing of 5 Egyptian soldiers by Israel, after which NOTHING was said by either the Egyptian military or the international media/community.
Anyway, according to accounts, towards evening a military van drove into the protesters outside the embassy. The van then drove to the nearby Giza police station. Many protesters, having been angered, followed, and fighting broke out AT THE GIZA POLICE STATION. Next thing I knew, Twitter and the media were reporting on a “mob” of “brainwashed Egyptians” storming the embassy. The embassy was NOT breached! An Egyptian flag was hung, like last week, and parts of the wall were broken down: two acts I support 100%.
What really shocked me was the reaction on Twitter.
A lot of activists got very self-righteous and started acting like only THEY have the right to decide where, when, and how protests should happen. They were insulting all the embassy protesters, calling them hooligans who had lost the revolution for all Egyptians. A common question was why people were focusing on Israel when many Egyptians don’t have food. Well, why are you on Twitter and not protesting about that? Why were you protesting about military trials instead of poverty? Come on!
And then the internationals began. “Mob” was seen in so many tweets I almost threw up. “Brainwashed” and “violent” were other favourites. Of course for many, attacking anything Israeli was the problem. For others they saw this as a “diplomatic breach” and “illegal”. OF COURSE IT’S ILLEGAL!!! SO WAS BURNING DOWN THE RULING PARTY’S BUILDING DURING THE REVOLUTION! That’s how revolutions work! What, were they supposed to diplomatically suggest that the Israeli ambassador leave?
Finally, I was shocked at the reactions to the idea of the protest itself. “Oh is Palestine free now?” was perhaps the STUPIDEST question of the night. It was not only about Palestine, it was a STATEMENT to the military to STOP being Israel’s bitch.
The final, and most irritating, criticism of last night’s action are the suggestions that breaking into the Embassy is somehow “uncivilized”, and tarnishes the image of the revolution.
While largely peaceful, police stations and other symbols of the state were targeted and attacked during the revolution on Friday 28 January. In February, activists entered Nasr City’s State Security Investigations building and turned it over. I don’t remember anyone condemning the protesters for that (Sarah Carr, here).
If you didn’t agree with the idea of protesting at the Israeli embassy, fine. Then don’t go. But to bitch and whine and insult the people that were there is just plain stupid and THAT’S what hurts the revolution. A revolution is not a 10-point plan. It’s spontaneous, and encompasses many groups, aims, and methods. For the foreigners who used insulting language such as “mob” or “brainwashed” – please, understand that you are being racist and Orientalizing Egyptians, something that appears to have become a hobby for many of you.
Also, to those who say Israel is not an internal affair (as if they can all be delinked from each other) all I have to say is:
I would argue that Egypt’s relationship with Israel is part of domestic affairs, because it is a legacy of the Mubarak era, and cleansing Egypt of traces of Mubarak is what the revolution was about. It’s one thing to make concessions as part of a peace deal with a neighbouring state, quite another to put the priorities of that neighbouring state and its patron above everything else, even to the extent that when six Egyptian officers (never mind the thousands killed in Gaza, whose border Egypt semi-controls) were killed by the Israeli army Egypt barely made a sound.
Protesters did not go on a rampage randomly targeting embassies. They stormed the diplomatic mission of an apartheid, occupying, murderous state. Israel protested. You’d of thought Israel would be the first to understand what drives people to trespass on, and occupy, what is not theirs (Sarah Carr, here).
People need to dig a bit deeper and understand events in their CONTEXT. The killing of Egyptian soldiers by Israel, combined with the concrete wall PROTECTING Israel in Cairo, combined with Mubarak’s 30 years of kissing Israel’s ass, ALL contributed to the protest. They were symbolic. If you don’t get that, I don’t know what to say to you. You don’t get to dictate what every Egyptian’s priorities are. That’s not how a revolution works, and that’s not how a civilized society works.
Okay. Rant over.