Wednesday, November 25, 2020

An Arab writes about the stupidity of not normalizing with Jews

A really good Arabic article in Al Hurra by Nervana Mahmoud:

Like most Egyptians, I never met a Jew, until I moved to Britain.

My first experience was when I was a doctor under training in an area with a high proportion of the Jewish population, and of course it did not take long until I received my first Jewish patient from the religiously observant Orthodox community.

I froze in my place when I saw her and remembered all the Egyptian TV series about Jews, from "Tears in Shameless Eyes" to "Raafat Al-Hagan", and I feared for a moment that I was facing the Israeli Mossad that was stalking me as an Egyptian.

But I quickly woke up from my delusions to the patient's voice as she was in pain, and her husband was trying to calm her down.

I noticed in his eyes that he was afraid of me, perhaps guessing that I was an Arab, but he listened to me carefully and agreed, albeit apprehensively, to my plan to treat her condition.

The next day, I saw the husband jogging towards me while I was going up the stairs outside the ward. For the second time, all the negative obsessions passed in my mind, and I imagined that this Jew, with his long beard and energy, would try to attack me, but I was surprised by his smile as he politely thanked me for treating his wife and relieving her pain.

Years passed and my job progressed, until I was appointed to the committees for selecting jobs for doctors under training, in one of them, my colleague in the same committee was an Orthodox Jew, working in the same area that I worked in at the time, but in a different hospital.

As usual, I began to think like any Egyptian, and I did not expect him to do justice to any Muslim doctor or female doctor, and I deliberately did not disclose my Egyptian roots in order to see how he deals with applicants, especially those with Muslim names.

Indeed, a Muslim doctor of Indian origin entered, and was surprised that my Jewish colleague gave her a higher score than the one that I gave her.

I asked him later why he gave generous evaluation even though the girl did not answer the questions we asked her as well. He smiled and said to me that he is always keen to help the new doctors because they have a long way ahead and many difficulties.

Gradually, I learned not to judge anyone based on their religion or race. 

So the Jews, whether they carry Israeli citizenship or not, are like other people, including the good and the bad, the polite and impolite, the lover of peace, and the one who rejects it. And that the personality characteristics of any Jew have no relationship to his nationality, whether Israeli or other.

There are Jews who defend Israel, even if they do not reside inside it, and there are also Jews who criticize Israel daily, even though they live there.

The culture of rejection of normalization and demonization of the Jews flourished in Egypt during the era of former President Mubarak, despite the Mubarak regime's insistence on preserving the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, and restoring the entire Sinai from Israel.

The rejection of normalization has become not only a political issue in support of the Palestinian people, but a means of outbidding against any opponent, and a lethal weapon for moral assassination and tarnishing reputations. 

Those who reject normalization in Egypt claim that there is a difference between peace agreements signed by governments and normalization between peoples. That is, the state apparatus has the right to deal with Israel on the basis of the peace agreement signed between the two states, but no Egyptian has the right to conform to the state's policy towards Israel and the Israelis.

The case of the Egyptian actor Mohamed Ramadan, who was recently suspended from work by his syndicate on charges of normalization, is the best example of this intellectual anomaly.

Social networking sites were buzzing with a picture of the Egyptian artist Mohamed Ramadan, showing him hugging the well-known Israeli singer Omar Adam in Dubai.

Egyptians poured out their anger on Muhammad Ramadan, under the pretext that filming with an Israeli and holding a concert attended by Israelis is a total betrayal of the Palestinian cause. Indeed, the Representative Professions Syndicate hastened to suspend him from work, as if preventing him from acting would liberate Jerusalem and establish the Palestinian state.

The funny thing is that most Egyptians angry with Muhammad Ramadan have mercy on Sadat and praise his shrewdness, and also support the state’s decision to close the Rafah crossing and destroy the tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, under the pretext that peace is a strategic choice, and that Egypt's national security is the priority for all Egyptians.

The Egyptian people chose realism to deal with the security and political reality, and emotional populism in dealing with personal and social situations - and this is simply absurd. 

The most dangerous thing is that this absurdity is not only reduced in dealing with Israel, but with Gulf countries, its brothers, such as the UAE and the Kingdom of Bahrain, and stood with Egypt in hardship and ease.

There are many questions that those angry at normalization have not answered:

How will Egyptians residing in the UAE and Bahrain deal with visiting Israeli citizens or working there after signing the Abrahamic Peace Agreement?

Will the Egyptian people rise up whenever a picture of an Egyptian citizen appears with an Israeli in Dubai or Manama? Or is the sword of suspension and punishment only for the well-known people whose moral assassination is? 

Is the rejection of normalization really in support of the Palestinian cause, or is it an absurd weapon aimed at satisfying Egyptian pride and easing our shortcomings?

Unfortunately, we are living like cavemen, prisoners of outdated beliefs and concepts that are not in line with the reality in which we live. 

The reality says that the Jews are people whether they carry Israeli citizenship or not, just like other peoples, including the good and the bad, the polite and the impolite, the one who loves peace, and the one who rejects it. And that the personality characteristics of any Jew have no relationship to his nationality, whether Israeli or other.

The Egyptian illusion, on the other hand, insists on demonizing the Jews and exaggerates the importance and impact of the Egyptian rejection of normalization, although this is the last concern of the Israelis, especially after the breakthrough in relations with many Gulf states.

I hope that Egyptians will see how the Emirati people deal with maturity and reason with their cause of peace with Israel, and how their wise leadership left the freedom for individuals to deal with the Israelis or avoid them if they wanted.

The Egyptian people are not a herd of sheep who follow a guide.

The Egyptian people are made up of individuals, each of whom has the right to agree or disagree in his convictions, as long as it does not harm the interests of the nation.

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