Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was expelled from the presidential palace in
Cairo in the middle of the night; one moment he was the president of the
strongest Arab country, and then all of a sudden he was nowhere to be
The Muslim Brotherhood has been waiting for its turn to lead Egypt
for more than 80 years. For decades its members lived under the rule of despots,
until exactly one year ago they took control of Egypt with almost no resistance
whatsoever. And now, there has been a dramatic turn of events, maybe even
historic, which once again gives us hope.
Muhammad Ali, in contrast to
Morsi, had the opposite experience this week. Ali, who was born in Egypt, is 51
years old and has been living in Israel for 13 years. For years he worked as a
tour guide for an Israeli tour agency, bringing thousands of tourists to visit
Egypt. He was called a traitor by his Egyptian colleagues, but remained proud of
his work. When his Egyptian passport was taken from him, Ali was stuck in Israel
with no identification papers for years. And then this week, Ali received a call
from the Interior Ministry telling him that he was finally being granted
permanent status in Israel.
“I couldn’t believe my ears!” Ali told me in
polished Hebrew. I just sat down and cried. All of these years I’ve had no
identity. But now I’ve been given my life back.”
Ali told me that
the Muslim Brotherhood never had much support in Egypt.
When I asked him
how it is that they came into power, he answered, “It’s simple. The Egyptian
people wanted Mubarak out.
That’s all they were interested in. No one
thought about what would happen the day after. No one thought it could get any
worse. So after Mubarak left, all the scoundrels came out of hiding. You have to
understand – the Egyptians were like prisoners who had spent their entire lives
in jail and then one day, they are set free. That’s how it was at Tahrir
Square. And now they are paying the price.”
So what’s going to happen
now, I ask Ali.
Who can bring Egypt stability? Can you promise the next
president that after six months he won’t get thrown out if the people get tired
of him? “No one knows what the future holds,” Ali admits. “But I don’t think it
could possibly get any worse. Look, you have to speak with some of these young
And not just in Egypt – all over the Arab world. They’re tired of
living like this. They dream of a new world. And they see what’s happening in
Israel. They don’t want to live in a ghetto under lock and key
The social networks on the Internet are bursting with posts from
Egyptians who are incredibly curious about what’s happening in other countries.
It’s a new world. They don’t want a world that is secular or liberal or
religious or Islamist or run by a military. They want a normal
country. The Egyptian people seek peace.”
So, let’s try to stay
with this hopeful message from Cairo. At least for one weekend.
hope that people in Tehran and Istanbul and around the world also hear this
And let’s pray that the Americans, who are supposed to be the
responsible grownups here and the official cheerleaders of freedom in the world,
will wake up and finally be able to distinguish between good and bad, between
hope and despair.
Democracy is a great goal. But sometimes it can turn
into a trap. Although Morsi was elected in a free vote, logic should have
superseded the letter of the law. Instead of ordering US diplomats to hastily
leave Cairo, US President Barack Obama should have gotten on his plane on
Wednesday, flown to Cairo and given the real “Cairo speech.”
Americans have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity in the Middle
East, so we shouldn’t rely on them too much. Instead we should pray for the
young, hopeful Egyptians who yearn for a different life. They are the real
future of Egypt.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.