“His bottom bare yet he shimmies to and fro.” This Egyptian proverb applies succinctly to the responses of Egyptians to the latest events taking place in Gaza. The meaning: if you don’t have what it takes, you shouldn’t be showing off.
The West says that the attacks are in response to the continual rocket falling in the proximity of Tel Aviv and other Israeli towns. It also looks at these incidents in separation of one another and of the original crisis; none consider the agony that these people have suffered for decades; they simply look at the Palestinians and say, ‘You are starting another round again?” as though the Palestinians have been living peacefully and serenely all along and forgetting that these people are imprisoned on their own land.
The Arab World, outraged, insists that Israel is behaving barbarically, killing innocent children, and slaughtering an already beaten-down people. It is also enticing its leaders to break the truce; “Go for it! Kill your enemy! Stop the talk and act; get to it,” they are saying.
It is not important who started this round anymore. Rockets are indeed falling on Israel, and Israel is attacking Gaza with a vengeance. It seems that an escalation is imminent. And since it isn’t a fight between equals, Gazans are yet again having their precious but desolate homeland demolished.
Infuriated and disgusted, I must condemn the happenings, but this is not our issue today. Our issue is with the raucous that seems to resonate in Egypt with regard to what action Egypt should take.
But before we consider Egypt’s action, we need to turn to a different front altogether, but a very important one nonetheless. Egypt is on the brink of bankruptcy. It has had 20 months of absolute dysfunction, and no end is in sight. Qandil’s government has just announced that subsidy on gas will be lifted causing gas to double, if not triple, in price. No doubt people will return to the streets in what some call the “revolution of the poor,” those who have been hit the hardest in all this.
In addition, Egypt is unable to protect its border let alone strap on another war. Radical Islamists continue to attack checkpoints and kill soldiers. The Jihadist from within Egypt and those crossing the border through the tunnels from Gaza are adamant to hit Egypt hard. So far nothing worthwhile has been accomplished in this regard.
Then, Egypt’s productivity is at an all-time-low. Currently, Egypt has no tourism sector to talk about, and 25 percent of Egypt’s working force is jobless. The streets are packed with vendors hoping to gain a meager few pounds a day since no permanent jobs exist.
But most importantly Egypt’s army forces, for months, had replaced the police force in protecting Egyptians from themselves. And in spite of its immense role, it remained marginalized and degraded. And with the many upheavals it has had to face—Copts evictions, police force protests, Sinai targeted—the army is fatigued and exhausted.
Besides, and due to the years of peace that Egypt has been enjoying, the army has diverted its attention to work on other areas: building bridges, opening factories, paving roads, etc. It seems to have been focusing on these efforts instead of its main goal of protecting the country and responding to enemies. Its ability to participate in a full-fledged war is doubtful.
And now some are calling on President Morsi to take action and join the fighting forces against Israel. They want a forceful response, which would make Israel fear its neighbours and bow with respect and shame. They want to widen this war even further, now, today, again.
Escalating matters would be fatalistic. Egyptians should be aware of the consequences. So far Egypt has not yet reached doomsday; this approach would take it there. The repercussions of a war would undoubtedly be the final straw that would get Egypt down on its knees.
To fight a war, you must be first, fully aware of the consequences—the best scenario and the worst scenario; two, be able to realize your enemy’s abilities; three, understand where you stand exactly in terms of your capabilities. And an answer to all these demands is a simple word: fiasco.
It is not shameful to know how far you can go. I personally don’t find it embarrassing to say that we cannot fight a war. Sadat’s words come to mind. He knew that the US would never allow Israel to fall, and since Egypt cannot fight the US, peace was the way to go.
Being realistic and rational are not Egyptian tenets. If Egyptians were so, they would realize that denouncing is all what Egypt can do for now. If some Egyptians want to fight, then they should by all means cross into Gaza, fight amongst the Gazaans, and give their lives to their cause.
While the other Egyptians should stop shimmying until they can cover themselves.