Friday, February 11, 2011

A Theory of Saudi Fear of Egyptian Democracy

I was discussing with a friend recently why the Saudis are so worried about Mubarak's fall that they would offer to pay Egypt's aid if the US cuts it off.  I doubt they are worried about Saudis taking to the streets - Saudi Arabia is not only a kingdom, as opposed to a dictatorship pretending to be a democratic republic - the country is actually named after the ruling family, the House of Saud.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wael Ghonim, Google, and the Greatest Social Media Campaign in History

The recent revelation that Wael Ghonim - the Google exec who was detained by the Mubarak regime and was missing from January 27 until today - was the administrator of the We Are All Khalid Said website and facebook page that declared Jan 25 to be the Egyptian day of protest makes for a plot worthy of Hollywood, or perhaps a novel by Naguib Mahfouz were he still alive:

Following the fatal and unpunished beating of a small-time businessman in Alexandria at the hands of the police after he "posted a video on the Internet of officers sharing the spoils from a drug bust among themselves" (scroll down in this link for the full story), an anonymous hacker decides to seek revenge.  Known only as El Shaheed - the martyr - he creates a page that galvanizes an entire nation against a ruthless dictator who has held power and destroyed opposition for nearly 30 years.  In a country threatened by sectarian violence and a populace so disenfranchised the trash in the street becomes a symbol of its decay, a day of protest is declared that hardly dares to hope (dream?) that perhaps it will be the one to finally bring this despot down when so many have failed before.  Using the latest in communications technology and the simplest handmade signs, a fierce unity is created between Christians and Muslims, Secularists and Religious, Rich and Poor, all rising up to take the revolution to the streets - even sweeping them in their wake(!) - while the world waits with baited breath to learn the outcome of the standoff between the people and their universally despised autocratic leader.  Men on horse and camel back, riot police, and fighter jets attempt to intimidate the people, but they will not back down.  Finally, the government cuts off the internet - but too late. El Shaheed goes quiet, but his role is done.  Older forms of social media - also known as word of mouth - take over.  Unable to ascertain his identity, a Newseek reporter writes:

"Fires still burned on the streets of the capital; in their flickering light, people huddled together to talk openly about revolution for the first time in many years. ... Perhaps somewhere in the crowds was El Shaheeed."

But alas our hero was nowhere to be found, and the drama builds.  

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mirror for Sandmonkey - Egypt Right Now!

Sandmonkey is back online; you can read his blog (highly recommended) here:

I have saved my own copy of the post which he wrote before he was arrested and beaten, which at the time of my writing this is at the top of his blog (link above) or direct link here:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why I Support the Egyptian People’s Revolution as an Israeli and a Jew - and Why You Should Too

The West, and Israelis and Jews in particular, seem to have come to the foregone conclusion that if Mubarak leaves power (probably better said as when Mubarak leaves), Egypt will be overrun by a barbaric horde of Jew-hating, warmongering  Islamists whose first action in power will be to rip up all peace agreements and send their entire military to conquer Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  I understand their anxiety; Egypt has a powerful army and the idea of fighting an all-out war on the southern front - something we haven't had to do since 1973 - is scary.  I however am much more optimistic and support the Egyptian people unequivocally, as an American, an Israeli, and a Jew, despite my first concern always being for the welfare of Israel and the Jewish people.  I would suggest that other Israelis and Jews do the same thing, or at a minimum be supportive of the Egyptian people while watching carefully to see what kind of government emerges post-Mubarak.