print
memri
May 8, 2001 No.
215

'The Parrots -- The Enemies of Peace Between Egypt and Israel'; An Egyptian Intellectual in Praise of Peace with Israel

In his weekly column in the Egytpian weekly "Ahbar Al-Yaum" [May 5, 2001], renowned Egyptian playwright and supporter of peace, Ali Salem, criticizes the enemies of peace in Egypt.

"War between Egypt and Israel is impossible in President Mubarak's era even if the Israeli public elects Odavia Yosef who is so hateful towards the Arabs. But war is possible and even certain in another era when a group of political extremists takes over in Egypt."

"The Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement is strong and stable even more than the supporters of peace themselves believe it is. To this very date we have not heard that any of the parties has violated it or expressed dissatisfaction with it. Even the most bitter opponents of the agreements know what stability it gained for Egypt. It gave her a certain amount of freedom and prosperity that, by the standards of our region, may be considered maximal."

"In Israel too, even the most extremists know that peace with Egypt realized for them a dream that was for decades a mission impossible. It wasn't just the line that was drawn between peace and war, but also the line that turned Egypt from a state with a revolutionary totalitarian regime to a state with a civil society, a state of institutions... Simple people in Egypt welcomed that peace agreement after long anticipation and began to work seriously on Egyptian infrastructure and all other beneficial projects."

"However, while separating the two countries was easy just by marking the boundary with border signs - the separation of old revolutionary ideas from new ideas [calling for] peace and freedom - was rather an impossible task."

"Thus, a free market emerged [in Egypt] in which the old merchandise of old ideas jumbled with the new ideas. Despite the difficulty in marketing repression in the market of freedom, the owners of this revolutionary ideology gave their life in defense of it, knowing that this is their last battle. However, the train of Israeli-Egyptian peace departed and all that remained for them was to curse the passengers and throw mud at them while any attempt to stop the train would mean falling under its wheels."

"The revolutionary ideology is an enjoying and even profitable ideology. It does not demand professionalism, nor research or knowledge. It does not demand hard work to improve the peoples' standard of living as individuals and as a nation. It needs only one thing: to turn the human being into a little parrot with glimmering colors that repeats old slogans that were dropped long ago after it became clear what catastrophes they cause."

"Alas, what terrible torture this little parrot suffers when he is demanded to say things that he himself thought. Alas, what a pain he feels when you demand of him to think of the people's problems and to propose suitable solutions. How terribly the columnist-parrot suffers when you deprive him of the instructions from above and demand of him to reach the truth independently, and state it for the best interest of his country and its people and be responsible for his statements."

"Articles, poems, songs, movies, television series, books, research, symposia -- all can be summed up in one quick parrot-sentence: Peace[squawk]...War[squawk]...Sadat[squawk]...Abd Al-Nasser[squawk]... Sinai was lost... Sinai was taken back...The Egyptian regime... The Iraqi regime...[squawk]..."

"Unfortunately, there is no way in the world to turn parrots into eagles, nor to turn peacocks into normal human-beings who would recognize the huge achievements of others. The only reason for the ongoing attack on President Sadat's initiative in Camp David was the envy for the amazingly quick manner in which it was carried out. Within less than two weeks this man [Sadat] managed to counter the most extreme men in Israel [meaning Begin], make peace, restore his land and spare his people bloodshed. The man who said clearly in the October War [in 1973]: "We can fight" - said [at Camp David] to the whole world: "We also want peace and are capable of shouldering it as we have shouldered past wars."

"I have a little story for the young generation: In May 1967 Egypt asked the U.N. Emergency Force to withdraw from Sinai and closed the Sharm Al-Sheik Straits. This was the first time the Egyptians ever learnt that the Israelis are crossing Egyptian waters in accordance with the agreement that has been reached after the war of 1956. So we closed the straits and made a huge political and media celebration. We told the whole world: "Any ship that will cross the straits to Israel or from it will be immediately destroyed by us." That's what we said and it was a declaration of war. At the same time instructions were secretly given [to the Egyptian Army] not to harm any ship on its way to Eilat or from it. We heard it from Air Force Field Marshal Al-Dgheidi in a lecture that was recorded in the 'Al-Nidaa Al-Jadeed Association."'

"So these are the constant characteristics of the revolutionary ideology: On the public level - screaming, shattering, blaring, spreading myths of courageous battles, thrashing agreements, etc. while on the secret level -- 'whoever wants to cross the straits - can do it...'"

"Let me repeat: War between Egypt and Israel is not possible in President Mubarak's time but [only] when a revolutionary government rises to power in Egypt."

"These revolutionaries are incapable and unwilling to act in a productive way. They think of nothing but the power which they cannot achieve except by waging war... then the war machine will take off... after a few days of killing and fighting and after a few thousands Egyptians and Israeli corpses [pile-up] a cease-fire will reached, only to be able to begin preparing for the new battle... This is how these revolutionaries stabilize their rule in a suffocating atmosphere in which 'no voice should be higher than the voice of battle," namely, their own voice..."

"The present generation must see to it that it transforms Egypt to the coming generations with a certain amount of peace that will be impossible to destroy and with a certain amount of freedom that will be impossible to wipe out."

"If you agree with me on that - meet me again [in my next weekly column] - next Saturday. If you don't - you are surely, one of those who like to see heads of states coming down from the balcony on the clouds... [hinting to a known show appearance of Saddam Hussein]. In this case, too, meet me, so I can get on your nerves..."