On Tuesday morning I blogged that the nascent protests seemed different from protests past. The change seemed to have true momentum behind it, and for the first time in our lifetimes, it looked like the glimmer of the beginning of the dream of a democratic Middle East.
Now that dawn is a bit brighter, but there iust a long way to go.
What is happening could be Egypt’s Passover. Just as the ancient Israelites were liberated from their Pharoah, the Egyptian people are on the cusp of crossing to freedom as well.
It could all go bad—remember, Pharoah changed his mind too—but as of now it looks like some elements in the army are even sympathetic to the protesters.
So here, as an American and a Jew, are my questions:
Where is Obama? This could be his Reagan moment. “Mr Mubarak, let your people go.” It’s not ideal, it’s messier than diplomats would like, but this may be the best chance we have as good as it gets. Obama stalled and maybe faltered in getting behind the Iranian protesters last June. Now it’s not too late for our President to stand on the right side of history. Tony Karon summarizes the bizarre response fro our government:
The language coming out of the Obama Administration has verged on the bizarre as Egypt lurched into another political showdown in the streets on Friday — the latest demonstration saw thousands of anti-government protesters clash with police in Cairo, who fired rubber bullets into the crowds and used tear gas and water cannons on them. President Hosni Mubarak is hailed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her spokesman, P.J. Crowley, as an “anchor of stability” providing vital assistance to U.S. regional goals, yet the protests demanding his ouster are soothingly described as “an opportunity” for the regime to demonstrate that it is able to respond to the demands of its citizenry by means other than guns, batons and prison cells.
Where is Israel? Did Prime Minister Netanyahu really say today that he has faith in Mubarak? Natan Sharansky, who has served in Bibi’s cabinet, has written clearly that true stability only comes with freedom and democracy. Yes, there is a fear of Islamist takeover, but our writers in Egypt tell us the people on the street, the leaders of this revolution, are fed up, secular young people. In other words, that Islamist revolution may indeed come, but this ain’t it. This is Israel’s best chance for a democratic neighbor, a democratic Middle East—if Israel wants one. I am blogging from a plane, but so curious to ask Israeli diplomats if in all their contingencies they ever planned for something like massive protests for democracy sweeping the Arab world. Who would have thought?