Monday, July 23, 2007

Where's Egypt's Rachel Corrie?

Last month, Congress voted to freeze $200 million in its annual aid to Egypt unless it started fighting the huge wave of illegal arms and explosives smuggling to Gaza. This was a long-overdue move, and one that Egypt of course bitterly opposed. The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate and the President.

Egypt is taking this seriously. Now, Egypt is planning to raze houses in Rafah near the border to find some of the smuggling tunnels. It has already expelled residents who live within 50 meters of the border and will expand this zone to 150 meters.

This proves three things.

Firstly, it shows that US aid to despotic governments are almost completely ineffective as a carrot to align their actions with US and Western interests.

Conversely, it shows that withholding that same money can be an extremely effective, at least in the short term, as a stick - and that Arab governments are more likely to respond to the stick than the carrot.

Finally, it proves yet again, as if it needed proving, that the "human rights" community is utterly divorced from any claim to evenhandedness and morality. When Israel demolished houses on the Rafah border for direct self-defense purposes, these organizations would routinely condemn Israeli actions. Arms smuggling for the express purpose of killing Israeli citizens was not a human rights issue to these hypocrites - only the defense against that smuggling.

But when Egypt plans to do the same thing, they are silent.

There are no Rachel Corries willing to stand in front of Egyptian bulldozers. There are no heart-wrenching articles about the Egyptians who are losing their houses. There are no calls for UN sanctions against Egyptian violation of human rights.

Now, why would that be?