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Egypt is an interesting word. Play Scrabble long enough and you are bound to appreciate “letter” aspects of words. Egypt as in crypt.

“Masr” — Egypt in Arabic — is familiar because of “mitzrayim” in Hebrew at the seder, in the siddur and in the Tanach. 

Many of the laws of treating others right are justified with the words: remember you were slaves and strangers in Egypt, so the very laws of morality are based upon bad treatment in Egypt.

The “Five Graves of Cairo” with Franchot Tone finally cracking the code the five treasures of arms buried in Egypt under E-G-Y-P-T, under the location of those letters on Rommel’s map (played by Eric von Stroheim).

Revolt, soon to be revolution, in Egypt has shaken the region. If Egypt can rise to its full height. Democracy brings demagogues, beware.

My two nieces 15 and 12 answered the “What do you think of Egypt?” question with aplomb and Laurel and Hardy timing.

“I think we’re all going to die,” said the elder.

“I think there’s hope,” the younger said with a smile after a beat.

Defending the ethnic cleansing that was the Nakba. Defending the phrase the demographic problem.

I am thinking of leaving Israel. This phase of my life is over. Ultimately in the short term it will be family that will bring me back to visit this land. They are American Jews who made aliya. I am the wandering Jew. But in the long term I am glad I studied Arabic for I will return to this city where the Arabic hangs like low lying fruit in the trees of Jerusalem’s steps. And I am glad that I was in Israel for the attack against Gaza and the revolt of Egypt. Whereas one was negative and the other positive (we hope) it was important to experience some world events from this angle on the world.

Viewing opinions through the eyes of Palestinians. Repetition and focus has brought home the cruelty of the Nakba. Clear vision sees no improvement on the horizon. The world continues to rotate and history will march at its own speed.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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