Until the miraculous year 2011 I was the same as millions of my people. I never believed that we as ordinary people could make any changes or even make demands. To be even more honest I didn`t care much about my Egypt, I even blamed my country for all of my failures and set backs.
The dictatorship regime that we had was very powerful to the point that even the educated elite of Egypt wouldn`t dare to question what the regime said or did. The constant fear and the political terror that we lived under made us a very negative people who didn`t care about anything except how to feed ourselves; but deep inside of everyone of us we all wanted to tear down this oppressive police state that treated us like sheep. In no time the brave Tunisians took down their police state and so we followed them without thinking or even coordinating.
On January 28th the government of Egypt cut down all means of communications such as the internet and cell phones. On that day the people of Egypt attacked police stations across the country. No one told them to do this or coordinated these attacks. It was a natural behavior by those who lived under an oppressive tyrant government.
For 30 years I was never involved in a protest or tried even to think about it, until February 2011 when I took my blanket and I camped at Tahrir Square from the 3rd of Feb until the removal of Mubarak. This experience made me believe that YES we can make a CHANGE and force our will to be treated with dignity as humans and not as sheep. This experience made me feel FEARLESS and it pushed me forward to say what I want, when I want, without any fear of getting arrested by the mighty police state.
During Mubarak`s regime the biased media and its propaganda tools kept brainwashing us and feeding us pure hate towards all the Jews whether Israelis or not. They kept on showing that they are our protectors and saviors from those Jewish invaders. They made us think that without them protecting us we would be wiped out by the Jewish people. But I always felt that there was something that didn`t add up to these scary stories and brainwash materials. I was very curious to know all about those who live in Israel, but I wouldn`t dare to search for the truth or reach out.
Once we removed Mubarak`s regime I took my blanket and went back to my house in Alexandria feeling like a fearless man that can make a change in the world he lives in.
So I started to reach out to any Israeli I could find on Facebook . It was very hard and nearly impossible at first because most Israelis are not used to be approached by an Arab who is offering friendship and wants a dialogue. I can`t blame them for being paranoid or feeling scared because a majority of Arabs would not interact in this way with Israelis. This is a very natural outcome and reaction because all of this history of biased media that keeps widening the gap between both sides.
The first Israeli friend I met was a very intelligent girl named Or, who serves in the IDF. This particular friend made me realize a very important perspective: a perspective that shaped me to become the peace activist I am today. When I asked her why cant we have peace or even mutual understanding she said because, “peace is only a matter of education and the knowledge of each other.” These few words turned my life upside down.
Most of us hate one another because we are told to do so!! We are just a part of the majority; it is like being guilty by associationwhich is very racist and ignorant.
Ten months in my quest for peace now, I have met hundreds of Israelis from all directions – from left wingers, activists, government officials, students, university professors, IDF soldiers and officers, house wives, and even a group of hard core right wingers.
Most of these different people have different backgrounds and different sets of needs, but they all share a common dream which is to live in peace with the Arabs, so they can raise their kids without being afraid of loosing them by a flying rocket or a suicide bomber. A mother once told me that everyday when she sends her kids to school she holds them close with tears as if she is sending them to their death not just to school. Some disagree with their government’s aggression and discrimination against the Palestinians who are also stuck between the IDF’s actions and Hamas`s flying rockets.
My point from all of this is that if we put aside the history and the biased propaganda and get to know each other for once as friends, exchange stories and memories we all will be amazed and surprised by how much we have in common. You will be surprised by the amount of the suppressed love that you are holding for each other without knowing or realizing it.
We must stop hating each other just because we were born with this mutual hate. We must give each other a chance to get to know who this person that you hate is.
Lets make our new year`s resolution giving each other a chance to be friends with total strangers from the other side. Lets make 2012 a year of LOVE & PEACE to be remembered by the history books.