The Israeli government and its many friends in the U.S. media are rushing to support the brutal Mubarak dictatorship as it copes with the most serious challenge to its rule.
As I noted yesterday, Israel is worried about a reliable ally being toppled next door. The Israeli government recently told journalists that there is “an earthquake in the Middle East … but we believe the Egyptian regime is strong enough and that Egypt is going to overcome the current wave of demonstrations.”
M.J. Rosenberg reports on “AIPAC’s Egypt miscalculation” at Media Matters.
Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic joins the lobby’s misgivings about the uprising in Egypt here:
Fifty years of peace has meant propping up dictators for fifty years.
3) Is that such a bad thing? Friends of mine like Reuel Gerecht believe that Arabs, given their druthers, might choose Islamist governments, and that would be okay, because it’s part of a long-term process of gradual modernization. I’m not so sure. I support democratization, but the democratization we saw in Gaza (courtesy of, among others, Condi Rice) doesn’t seem particularly worth it.
That is to say, we don’t know exactly what the protestors want. There are those who hate the regime because it jails and tortures bloggers and those who hate it because it won’t make war on Israel. No doubt some of the young are just fed up they have never known another Egyptian ruler in their lifetimes. Some of the youth are democrats and others are decidedly not.
It is not always a good thing when people go to the streets; indeed the history of revolutionary action shows that people go to the streets to shed blood more often than they do to demand democratic reforms. Perhaps it is an appetite for activist politics that explains why so many Western observers are now captured by the moment. Otherwise, it would be hard to explain why it seems as if no one had learned from the failures of the Bush administration’s freedom agenda—namely the Palestinian Authority elections that empowered Hamas—or could remember its successes. The Iraqis and Lebanese went to the streets, too, and our allies there are under pressure and ignored not only by the Obama administration, but also by a press corps and intelligentsia that mostly seems just fascinated by the spectacle of Arabs throwing themselves against a wall, regardless of the outcome.
The posture of Goldberg and Smith is striking. They were certainly not airing such anti-democratic sentiments when the Iranian “Green Revolution” was going on. But now that a revolt is threatening a pillar of the U.S./Israeli order in the Middle East, an order that is suffocating the people of Palestine, their zest for democracy fizzles. This will be noted.