Last night we had dinner with some friends. They, like me are jewish. The dinner conversation turn to the topic of Egypt and what it might mean for the world at large but also what I might mean for Israel. My friends were concern that Egypt would become an Islamic state like Iran and that of course would become a major problem for Israel. I felt very different and expressed my thoughts which you can read below.
The USA, Israel and the other first world democratic states can not keep putting bandages on the economic and political problems of the world. We can not say how wonderful freedom and democracy is but actively deny it to billions of people through the world because we do not trust them. Not dealing with the problems now means dealing with them later when they will only be worse. But of course that is what we do with so many issues.
I love Israel. To be truly honest, I am not sure I would give up my life for the USA but I think that I would for Israel. But Israel must find a way to co exist in a region of the world that is Arab and Moslem. It can not build a wall high enough to keep out the missiles that will eventually come. And the situation in Egypt may be a great opportunity because the need is so great there.
Some of my friends last nigh talked of the Muslim Brotherhood and how they would take over Egypt because Egypt has no other political institutions (thanks to all the money we sent to buy off the government and the army). My friends fail to understand the new order, the power of Facebook., Twitter and Al Jazera. I am sure that when I was in my 20s inn the streets of America and protesting the insane war in Vietnam that things would have been different if we had the internet then. Not only would we have been able to organize more efficiently but we would have had the facts to support our case that the President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson was lying to the people of the United States.
Our American government provided Egypt with 1.5 billion dollars which was mostly for military aid. I would guess that more than half of it went into the pockets of the generals. We spend more than that every week in Afghanistan. What if we had invested in colleges in Egypt? What if we had given American companies incentives to build factories in Egypt? It is not too late for that.
The median age in Egypt is 24 I believe. How will Egypt deal with this youth bubble? It will be a great challenge. The Egyptian youth is largely uneducated. Why can’t we spend a few billion dollars teach them the skills that they need? By the way, there are over 100 million arabs between the age of 15 and 30.
Israel needs to find a way to help the Egyptian people. It need to stop thinking of Arabs in the ways the Americans thought (think of the black and hispanics).
We have no rational choice but to engage and help but this must be done in away that respects Egyptians and all human beings.