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memri
March 23, 2000 No.
80

The Devil's Advocate; An Egyptian Responds to Thomas Friedman's Visit to Egypt

The New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman recently travelled to Egypt where he spoke about globalization and his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Dr. 'Asem Salah Al-Din Khashbeh discusses Friedman's ideas in Al-Sha’ab (Egypt) the journal of the previously Socialist, now Islamic, opposition "Labour Party," on February 18, 2000:

"All of a sudden, without warning, a guest appeared in Egypt whose weight is light, but whose shadow is heavy. He was introduced to us as the modern virtuoso just because he writes editorials for The New York Times. He assumes the character of 'Antar [a mock Arab hero] and indeed, he carried a sword and entered like a conqueror after the doors [and] windows… had been opened for him. This man... put down everyone around [him] and spoke from the edge of his nose -- his Jewish nose -- scorning everything in Egypt and presenting himself as the sole messenger or prophet of globalization, even though falsehood surrounds him, coming from his mouth as black puss."

"The strange and even remarkable thing is that everybody who is anybody, Egyptian or foreign, is pleased with him. He can say anything, from blasphemy through degrading Egypt and the Egyptians to mocking Egyptian values and customs... We were obliged to listen politely and respond quietly to his sophistry and bad manners in order to become civilized, even if we become a punching bag for everybody."

"Thus Thomas Friedman, an average journalist and below average author, broke into the Land of Egypt and occupied many pages of its press and many of its television screens, suggesting to us in poor language his sticky ideas about Egypt and the future, Egypt and globalization, Egypt and Americanization. Then, he gives us his advice like it is a pearl of wisdom and predicts a black future for anyone transgressing the American Western herd."

"While advocacy for globalization was crushed under the shoes of the demonstrators in Seattle and Davos, Captain Thomas still talks about the beauty, sweetness, and the inevitability of globalization, even if it is on the corpses of dozens of poor developing countries and on the corpses of billions of human-beings who do not know the difference between globalization and a corncob."

"Although the clear purpose of Friedman's journey is to promote his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, in an attempt to promote globalization against anyone who is hostile to it, it became clear from the beginning that the man advocates Western culture and the white race in a racist, yet chic manner."

"The Lexus" - a Western Symbol

"The man's first and biggest mistake lies in the title of his book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, because he presented a 100% Japanese car as an example of [western] supremacy, civilization, and technology. Everyone knows that the Lexus is the pride of the [Japanese company] Toyota. Everyone also knows that the Japanese are a yellow race; colored, in other words. More importantly, Japan has a deep rooted civilization spanning thousands of years of human history. This proves that Japanese superiority did not emerge from a vacuum. It is supported by long years of purity and nobility of descent, much more than the US and all the European countries, who were born only yesterday..."

"If only Captain Thomas respected himself, America or Europe, he would have named his immature book The Ford and the Olive Tree or The Landrover and the Olive Tree…"

Egyptian "Olive Trees"

Skepticism About Globalization

"Captain Friedman is upset because of the basmallah [the Muslim custom of repeating Allah's name with every action], as if he prefers to live in an assembly of pigs, or rather the civil society they advocate, where humans live as if they are in a barnyard, where there is no religion, no faith, no God, no rituals, no feelings, no spiritualism, only more and more animalistic desires."

"Friedman presents Capitalism and globalization as humanity's sole and beautiful lot. However, he does not explain the millions of demonstrators against globalization in the US and Europe. He does not tell us what his position will be a year or years from now if international Jewry invents something new, after globalization -- maybe 'Hebrewization.' Will he write a new book: The Hebrewization and the Olive Tree?!"

"Also, Mr. Friedman does not tell us why the arrogant capitalists have begun to search for a 'third way', in order to escape the values of monopoly and capitalist barbarity in search of justice, to shade millions of human beings, who live in the streets and under the bridges, feeding themselves with trash."

"The man does not explain, nor will he, why the free US acted against Bill Gates and why socialist parties are once again returning to Europe?! And whether it is possible for an immoral society to survive?!"

"If we mock civilization and heritage, religion and beliefs, and if we destroy family values, justice and solidarity and ridicule sentiments, offering in their stead a cold dry materialistic society, ruled only by dollars and savage authority like the Mafia -- would this create a safe society that can survive?"

"Friedman must learn -- if indeed he has not [yet] -- that capitalism and globalization are not heavenly messages but rather human inventions and hence they err as often as they are right, and it is absolutely wrong for one state to invent an economic school [of thought] and throw it in the face of developing countries to accept, irrespective of their conditions, unique characteristics, and needs, or else turn to robbery and gangsterism and in time into a remote occupation and domination over oppressed states."

"We in Egypt do not reject globalization despite its maladies. We are [merely] calling upon the faithful and the nationalists to think about Egypt and its people and tell us what we have [that we can] export? Where can we obtain heaps of hard currency [to be able] to import everything, even dog food? Where is the Egyptian technology and property rights? And do we have experts, equipment and expertise in marketing?"

"If western peoples themselves are afraid of globalization, why do some Egyptians consider it too much for us to have the basic right of expressing our fears [of globalization]?"

"The question that remains hovering above our heads is: who arranged for 'globalization's advocate' to come to Egypt? [Who] organized the evening feasts for him, as if he were the leader of a superpower, when, what he really is just the 'Devil’s Advocate?'"