Friday, August 08, 2014

Contextualizing pro-Palestine Egypt in the light of the current crisis in Gaza

Contextualizing pro-Palestine Egypt in the light of the current crisis in Gaza


Introduction

Looking at the English media coverage on Egypt during the current offensive on Gaza, both mainstream and advocacy oriented media, I noticed that clear remarks, analysis, and criticisms were made on Egypt's diplomatic role, and on the responses of the Egyptian mainstream media whether state run or businessmen owned.
However, apart from the convoy which was stopped by the coup forces ahead of the the Rafah crossing border, very little was mentioned when it came to looking at the popular Egyptian response and reaction to the US funded coup regime's complicity in the crisis.

For some reason it seems like there's an international consensus within human rights advocates circles and other international bodies concerned with the situation in Gaza to assume that all the Egyptian people share the the same stance on Palestine as the coup lead government and the mainstream media anchors.

While I appreciate that the Egyptian regime is being exposed for what it is, I don't appreciate that the internal situation in Egypt is out of this context and that the pro-Palestinian Egyptian voice is not given enough credit or even just a mention. I don't appreciate that what old white non-Arab non-Palestinian non-Muslim men residing in North America and Europe think of Palestine and Gaza is more relevant to the international community than what people like myself who reside a few hours away from Gaza and are directly being affected by the same authority oppressing the Palestinians think. 

 I'm a young woman who happened to be born and raised in Cairo, Egypt whose politicization began with the Palestinian cause in the early 2000s and late 1990s years before the cable TV and the internet. 

I'm also an Egyptian who participated in the revolutionary movement opposing the US funded Egyptian military regime in early 2011 and it's domestic and foreign policies most importantly the long lasting shameful Egyptian diplomatic position on Palestine and more specifically on Gaza.

There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of of Egyptians like myself out there but for some reason their voices are being sidelined and their existence is being overlooked from the current conversation on the crisis in Gaza. 

When it comes to Egypt, there is much out there already on:

1- How Egypt of the coup is complicit in the current crisis in Gaza.
2-Egypt under Morsi vs. Egypt under Sisi, comparing the Egyptian diplomatic positions regarding Gaza in 2012 and the current one.
3-Egypt the anti-Palestinian in diplomacy, in the media, and in the public arena.
4-Why Egypt should open the Rafah crossing.

So, I won't talk about these items as much.

 In this piece I will:

1- Talk about the pro-Palestine revolutionary Egyptian body. 
2- Contextualize how the post-coup internal crisis in Egypt affected the pro-Palestine Egyptian population's expression of solidarity and opposition.
 3- Highlight the Sinai Peninsula and why it's been overlooked from the current conversation on Palestine.
 4-Point out to some of the issues I have with the mainstream pro-Palestine discourse regarding Egypt especially within the rights and advocacy camps. 


The overlooked consequences of the military coup on the pro-Palestine Egyptian body:

I can assure from my personal experience that the year 2011 of the #Jan25 uprising and then the year 2012 have witnessed the most open populace expression of anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian sentiment in Egypt for decades. I wrote a little bit about this here in my previous post about Gaza.

This shift of expression didn't last for too long though, and many of those who were part of that scene in the past three years and could have done something for Gaza are mostly martyred, displaced out of the country, imprisoned under horrible conditions, or like myself refraining from having open positions in public on the matter fearing persecution by the US supported military regime. 

The fact that Egypt experienced a bloody military coup in July 2013 supported by the United States government and other governmental bodies in the west and the Arab Gulf explains the lack of similar large scale mobilizations as well as the explicitly of the pro-Zionist diplomatic position of Egypt this time. 

In this past year, following the coup, the Egyptian military forces have managed to suppress and contain the revolutionary movement that was essentially and fully in solidarity with the Palestinian cause and the struggle of the Palestinian people especially those who reside in Gaza Strip. 

The massive and aggressive attack of last summer on the Egyptian revolutionary forces, groups, and individuals who have supported and believed in the Palestinian cause for decades in the past has undermined Egypt’s popular role in the conflict and thus allowed for the Egyptian state to be the sole operator and representative of Egypt in the current crisis. 

Unfortunately, for some reason I don't understand most of the commentators on Palestine tend to shy from mentioning the consequences of the coup. For some reason I don't understand how can Palestine solidarity activists in their efforts to lift the suffering of the people of Gaza overlook that the Egyptian military murdered 4,000+ people and imprisoned 44,000+ Egyptian opponents to the military.

They call for opening the Rafah crossing border, appeal to the Egyptian government but they don't say a word about what's been happening within these borders or even to the Egyptians living on the borders who're being droned and killed. They talk about this border as if it exists in a vacuum. 

The internal crisis affecting the Egyptian opposition to the military regime and it's policies is not a secondary item in the agenda. 
This selective position separating the Palestinian struggle from the Egyptian is very shortsighted and is doing Egyptians who're in opposition to the current military regime more injustice than what's been done to them already by the state.

The Sinai Peninsula: A missing essential context

Something most of the Palestine advocacy groups and individuals seem to overlook when they talk about Gaza is the relevance of the Sinai Peninsula and the Egyptian side of Rafah to the cause they are in support of. 
The Sinai Peninsula has fallen a victim to the Camp David treaty for decades due to its geographical proximity to the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Since the military coup in 2013
especially the price paid by the Sinai peninsula and its Egyptian residents escalated and made it even more isolated from Egypt and the world geographically, culturally, and also communications wise.

Sinai is directly affected by the US/Egypt agreed upon "War on terrorism", which lead to more destruction of infrastructure, homes, and personal property of Sinai. The Egyptian civilian population there has suffered the injustices of random arrests, indefinite detentions, and ongoing human rights violations. 
This video was released by a local group in Sinai to document some of the crimes the Egyptian military is involved in against the Egyptian residents of the peninsula.
 You can find more videos on their Youtube channel.



Some pictures shared by the same collective showing the destruction of infrastructure and the victims of the attacks on the villages and residential areas in Sinai, especially in the Egyptian Rafah.






While drones and F-16s are flying over and killing Egyptians, Sinai news stories are merely on “The Egyptian borders” or “The Rafah crossing” or the "Militants". The western media and activists even the those with good intentions can't get over the Egyptian state sold and US so-called War on terror “Jihadi militants in Sinai” discourse when Sinai is ever brought up in conversations about Palestine. 

 Consequently, the Egyptians who are residents of the Sinai peninsula have became victims to the following:

1- The Egyptian military's diplomatic and military collaboration with the IDF and the US.
2- The US/Israeli/Egyptian counter-terrorism measures and policies in the peninsula.
3- The classicist Egyptian activist and media elite which has overlooked Sinai for a long time.
4- The biased or ignorant international media and rights groups.

Palestine solidarity movement in Egypt or what's left of it:

There are rallies taking place in Egypt as I'm writing this post in opposition to the military coup and in solidarity with Gaza as in the past few weeks. Since the beginning of the Zionist attack on Gaza Egyptians showed solidarity to Gaza within the continuous anti-coup ongoing protests and rallies. Although these mobilizations are not as big or widespread as in the past they were remarkable due to the unprecedented crackdown on opposition since the coup.
After Eid prayers especially Egyptians across the country marched in large numbers in solidarity with Gaza making a statement against the complicity of the US funded Zionist Egyptian regime. 


El Haram, Giza this past Ramadan marching in solidarity with Gaza

I didn't see anything firsthand because I reside in a predominately military supportive neighborhood in Cairo. Protests are no longer allowed in this part of Cairo since last summer and showing any signs of solidarity to Palestine or against the coup is an act of suicide, the residents will rush to arrest you or attack you before the security forces. 

Nonetheless, Egyptians from all over who don't live in any better environments than mine defied all that and marched for Gaza. The Egyptian security forces opened fire on some of the marches, 5 protesters were killed, and many were injured and arrested.

Most of the pictures and videos I came across for these anti-coup and Gaza solidarity rallies were shared in Arabic only in local social media outlets. When international activists collected footage on international Gaza solidarity efforts all of these mobilizations were totally neglected.

It has always been a struggle to follow the story of  "The other Egyptians" and now it became even harder of a task to follow or find out about these forces and their representations that are represented neither by the mainstream official media nor the elitist and mostly disconnected activists voices and their outlets. Due to the complete media censorship on both the ongoing resistance and opposition to the military, and the violations of human rights committed by the security, military, and police forces

Here are some pictures from the Egyptian mobilization that I collected and translated from Facebook and Twitter Arabic outlets. 
This is a link to a post I'm constantly updating:
Balteem in Ramadan in solidarity with Gaza
Ultras White Knights in Qanater
We are all under occupation except for Palestine because she's resisting
We are all Gaza, Nasr city in Cairo
We are all Gaza, resistance is the hope of this Ummah.
Beer Al Abd in Northern Sinai, Egypt
We are sorry Gaza, we are under siege just like you


Rallies in solidarity with Gaza after Eid prayers across the country:

El Fayoum, upper Egypt
Nahyia Giza
Osim Giza
El Haram Giza
 An Egyptian anti-coup female prisoner, Asmaa, made this bag and asked to sell it in order to donate the money to Gaza 
Free Asmaa Masr

El Monofeya, we are in solidarity with Gaza in Eid
Abdul Warith 17 years old martyred in a pro-Palestine rally after Eid prayers in Abu Zabal
Omima 13 years old martyred in a pro-Palestine rally after Eid prayers

And this is from a fighter in Al Qassam: Greetings from Al Qassam brigades to the youth of Kerdasa, Giza
 in Egypt


These are some archival pictures:
1- Egyptian pro-Palestine protesters taking down the walls built by the Egyptian military forces outside of the Zionist embassy. Cairo in 2011.



2- Palestinian protesters in Gaza in August 2013 showing solidarity to Egypt after the Rabaa massacre.


Conclusion:

1- The struggle of the Egyptian people is key and essential to the Palestinian cause and is not to be separated or overlooked from the overall Palestinian/Arab- Israeli conflict.

2- The continuity of the oppression of the Egyptian population by the Egyptian state since signing Camp David and most recently after the military coup welcomed and applauded by the US and Israel is essential to neutralizing and sidelining the role of the Egyptian resistance in the conflict.

3- No borders with Gaza will ever be opened if the Egyptians who live on these borders, within these borders, and inside the prisons within these borders who believe in the Palestinian cause and want the borders open are tortured, killed, and imprisoned systemically in Egypt. 

4-We are still here. 
We are not all dead, imprisoned, or exiled.
 We are for the resistance.
 We are waiting for the suitable moment to become visible again. 

1 comment:

Huzaifa said...

A very comprehensive note on the Gaza issue... Thanks.