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Israelis in Cairo: "We envy the Egyptian people"

By Hagar Sheizaf and Bar Rose

Two Israelis on holiday in Egypt were caught in the Cairo awakening. This is their report.

‪The Cairo pro-democratic demonstrations started on Wednesday at about 1:00pm. We were on our way to the Egyptian museum, and just happened to curiously stop by what later became one of the largest demonstrations ever held in Egypt; at that moment, it was quite a small gathering of people shouting anti-Mubarak slogans and about the same  amount of policemen gathering around them.

At first, when we took our camera out, a man that was not taking part in the demonstration addressed us in a formal manner, and requested, as if it were his civil duty, that we not take any pictures. As the demonstration got bigger and the police became more violent, people no longer felt the need to hide the unpleasant sides of their country from us, tourists. We were cynically greeted several times – “Welcome to Egypt,” “This is the real Egypt” and were asked to take as many photos as possible and report to the people in our country. And so we did.‬

We started marching from the court to El-Tahrir Square, and on the way we met three English-speaking medical students who translated the signs for us, helped us understand the background of the demonstrations and held our hand when it was time to run away from the police batons, water cannons and tear gas.

When we suggested to an Egyptian friend affected by teargas that he buy onions and use it to diminish the affect of the gas, as we do in Israel and the Occupied Territories, he laughed. He then explained his salary is about 300 Egyptian pounds, and one kilo of onions is three pounds.

We got back to our hotel after being at the demonstrations all through the day. During the night, we could hear the protest continuing – people screaming and police vehicles driving through the streets.

This morning we woke up to find  the streets were quiet and full of policemen, but the Facebook page of the anti-government movement was very much alive.

At around 5pm we were on a metro line on our way to the hotel, when we heard that Tahrir’s metro station was closed. We got out of the metro on Nasser Station (near the court), just in time to see the doors of the station locked behind us. Outside we found  a large crowd of people and many policemen, all of them looking much more impatient than on the previous day. Every gathering within the crowd was surrounded by policemen and whenever a large group of demonstrators started marching, the policemen shot rubber-bullets and tear gas. The atmosphere was a lot more violent and hectic.‬

We would be lying if we said we did not envy the Egyptian people: Seeing masses of people out on the streets to protest for what they believe in is something we, as Israelis, can only dream of now. And it is truly frightening to think that similar masses of Israelis will act only when have experienced the levels of oppression and rage that people are experiencing here.‬

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    1. dorian

      Great blog. The first comment just shows how narrow minded some people are. Pathetic. This attitude creates so many problems.
      Not every Israeli is a Zionist, please get that into your head.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Dani Levi

      these kind of blogs attract particular clients. People who know nothing about Judaism or Zionism.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Woody

      These two individuals are NOT Zionists Fashi. I say that 1) because I know them. However, if that seems too suspect, 2) I will point out that an Israeli who would go to Cairo is a VERY open person. Many Israelis have such fear they would think it was a death sentence. 3) They also clearly have experience vs. the IOF and border police – though that of course doesn’t mean they’re not Zionist, it should suggest their credentials.

      Most Israelis are Zionist. I’m not even saying a significant number aren’t (because the number is insignificant – something Leftist Israelis are sure to point out so that people don’t get the wrong idea). These two individuals are not.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben Israel

      I see that the Leftists/Progressives are very excited by seeing what seems to be “peoples uprisings”. Of course, we saw what happened to some earlier ones in history and what they turned into…..the Reign of Terror in France followed by Bonapartism, the Bolshevik/Communist totalitarian dictatorship in Russia and Khomeinis Iranian Islamic dictatorship.
      Don’t forget the current Egyptian regime is the direct continuation of the “Free Officers Revolution” in 1952 which led to the Leftist/Progressives dream of Nasserite Pan-Arabism which actually was discredited by the late 1960’s. So Sheizaf and Rose are “envious” Leftists. Did they bother to ask their Egyptian friends why the put up with this regime for so many decades if it is so bad? Maybe people get the kind of regime they deserve?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Peter H

      Ben Israel,

      Instead of making your usual fact-free generalizations, why don’t you actually read accounts of the protests by people who live in Egypt? Maybe it would behoove you to have some actual knowledge of something before you ranted about it.

      Just a suggestion.

      Reply to Comment
    6. ” Most Israelis are Zionist. I’m not even saying a significant number aren’t (because the number is insignificant – something Leftist Israelis are sure to point out so that people don’t get the wrong idea). ”

      I’m a left wing post-zionist Woody , so now you know three .
      I’m also not so sure that our numbers are insignificant , take the increase of votes for Hadash during the last elections as an example .

      Ask the average young Israeli in the shopping malls of Tel Aviv if they are zionist and you will get a blank look , most Israelis do not define themselves as zionists , they define themselves as Israelis .

      Reply to Comment
    7. Yael

      Barbar & Hagar, take care of yourselves and come home safely to continue your important work in Israel. xxx

      Reply to Comment
    8. rick

      ben, how easy to say if u sit in a country were the internet is not blocked and nobody will arrest u for writting smart or not so smart texts.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Ben Israel

      I wonder if Sheizaf and Rose appreciate the irony of their statement about being exhilirated at the uprising against oppression in Egypt.
      Egyptian Jews also faced this type of repression…that is why they were eventually expelled in the 1950’s with only the clothes on their back. That is why many came to Israel.
      Jews from other Arab countries also faced repression like this. That is why they came to Israel.
      Jews from Europe faced even worse than they Egyptians are facing. That is why they came to Israel.
      Israelis in their family history have plenty memories of this kind of oppression. That is why they are leery about trusting the same people who are doing this repression today.

      Reply to Comment
    10. ilana sebba

      What exactly are these people envious of? A crushing dictatorship, poverty, hunger, illiteracy? – Use your brain, you can write your opnion because you live in Israel and not in Egypt!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    11. Ali

      No Ilana, they are envious, because despite of those things that you mentioned, the dictatorship which is also partially sponsored by your country, the Poverty, the Hunger, and the supposed illiteracy, the Egyptian people can still stand up and say “I deserve better than Mubarak and his Goons”, where as in you “democratic”, “Literate”, “Rich” state, you still have the bar bouncer ranting his supremacist banalities, and a witch hunt against those who stand up in defense of Justice, without anyone of this “democratic”, “literate”, “wealthy” state to stand up and put and end to this farce!.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Interesting that no one here mentions 3 million Palestinians living under military rule on the West Bank, not to mention Gaza.

      Reply to Comment
    13. ” Interesting that no one here mentions 3 million Palestinians living under military rule on the West Bank, not to mention Gaza.”

      Never far from our minds Jon , read here :


      [quote]The Egyptian regime became an ally of the Israeli occupation. The joint siege of Gaza is irrefutable proof of that. The Egyptian people didn’t like it. They never liked the peace agreement with Israel, in which Israel committed itself to “respect the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people” but never kept its word. Instead, the people of Egypt got the scenes of Operation Cast Lead.

      It is not enough to have a handful of embassies in order to be accepted in the region. There also have to be embassies of goodwill, a just image and a state that is not an occupier. Israel has to make its way into the hearts of the Arab peoples, who will never agree to the continued repression of their brothers, even if their intelligence ministers will continue to cooperate with Israel. [/quote]

      Reply to Comment
    14. Martin Sandberger

      These writers have much to be envious of Egypt, because even Mubarak was a perfect democrat compared to ziostan.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Sam

      “because even Mubarak was a perfect democrat compared to ziostan.”

      HAHAHAHAHAHA. Congratulations on having the dumbest comment so far.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Jesus Christ

      I was in Egypt most my life. Most of my followers don’t know I learned everything I know about being a god in Egypt.

      Reply to Comment