Press round-up: Local writers react to Israeli-Hezbollah conflict

Sarah El Sirgany
7 Min Read

Laying blame, discussing fallout and effect on tourism all topics for discussion

CAIRO: With coverage of the ongoing Israel-Lebanon conflict dominating the front pages of all local newspapers, the topic was also the focus of a high percentage of editorials throughout the week.

While editorials disagree in assigning blame for the recent escalation, all united in condemning the events. Other writers tackled the issue from a local perspective, criticizing Egypt’s, and consequently the Arabs’, inaction toward the violence, while reflecting on local concerns.

In Al Ahram, Nabil Omar pointed to a “general state of confusion, in which Egyptians’ reactions to the escalating violence vary.

He said foreigners could be excused for their surprise at Arab confusion, but Arab intellectuals have no excuse because they know that the victim profile has become part of the Arab character.

While taking a critical approach toward Hezbollah, Omar also found excuses for the group, saying that if it is acceptable for Israeli to launch a war to retrieve two soldiers then, “Why is it prohibited for Hezbollah to do the same to retrieve its captive fighters?

In Al Ahram, Salah Montasser wrote that Hassan Nasrallah made a mistake in starting the violence, but the Israelis’ disproportionately violent response turned Nasrallah into a leader.

“People are confused, their thoughts are conflicting and the regimes are concerned about themselves, Omar concluded.

But “now is not the time for side battles, wrote Amr Khafaga in Al-Masry Al-Youm, in reference to the difference in opinions over assigning blame. He said that some of those who call for freedom of expression don’t exercise it themselves because they think that their opinion on the issue is the only valid one. He said the difference in opinion has reached the point where each team accuses the other of working for either Hezbollah or Israel.

“This is the time to solve the crisis, save a population and maintain the sovereignty of a state, Khafaga added.

The split in opinion seems inevitable, at least in commenting on how Arab states are responding to the Israeli attacks on Lebanon. In Al-Gomhuria, Hassan El Rashidy wrote that President Hosni Mubarak dealt with the issue “expertly and wisely by asking for an immediate cease-fire and stressing that Israel wouldn’t come out of the war “a winner.

On the same note, an Al Ahram editorial commended the American-Egyptian dialogue. The visit of an Egyptian diplomatic delegation to Washington “is evidence that the relationship between the two countries is based on a strong foundation, mutual respect and continuous coordination that aims at the security and stability of the region, read the editorial. The delegation would convey the Egyptian view on the current Middle East crisis, it added.

But others were critical of the official Egyptian response. Alaa Areiby wrote in Al-Wafd that although he might agree with the president that Egypt shouldn’t be fighting a war instead of other Arab nations, he said such announcements should be made to closed meetings with other Arab leaders, not the media. These announcements, he explained, encourage the Israelis to continue their aggression and instill despair and frustrations among youth.

In Al-Masry Al-Youm, Ammar Aly Hassan wrote that Egypt’s official role has been receding to the point “where it is standing on the edge of idleness and dormancy. He said Egypt lacks “calculated and responsible adventure and “political imagination.

Hassan said that Egypt has been escaping from those who ask it to help and that it should respond “via action not via words and to conclusively participate rather than [its] failing [mediation]. He explained that “our regional role is not a luxury, rather it is a defense of our national security.

“I wish that those who had said that peace is a necessity for our country’s development fulfilled their promises, Hassan wrote. He explained that he is not asking for “recklessness but for “the proper management of the cards we have . We demand that we possess the other basis for power: a flourishing economy, a cohesive society, refined cultural production and an organized ambitious administration.

Criticism was also directed towards other Arab states. In Al-Gomhuria, Riad Seif El Nasr wrote that Arab states have many cards that could be used to exert pressure on Israel, but “unfortunately these cards have been left unused.

The same tone was also evident in Al-Masry Al-Youm, where Mohamed El Barghouthi wrote, “Arab leaders are still lying to their citizens and making up lame excuses to justify their inability to hold an urgent Arab summit or take effective quick decisions. He said that some Arab leaders have interests in the destruction of Hezbollah because this would pave the way for the destruction of any fundamental groups in their countries.

Mehanna wrote that some of the statements issued by Arab states, including Egypt, are similar to the Israelis’, “like there is some sort of coordination.

Mehanna also criticized the ineffectiveness of the Egyptian Embassy in Lebanon in protecting Egyptian expatriates there. Comparing it to the lengths to which other governments have gone to bring back its citizens from Lebanon, Mehanna said, “Why is the Egyptian worthless inside and outside his country?

He added that Arabs are living in circumstances similar to that of 1948, which led to a change in systems, asking, “Would the Arab region witness the same results?

The effect the escalating battle has on local tourism was also topic for discussion. While El Sayed El Babbly in Al-Gomhuria found the escalation of violence an effective factor in decreasing tourism rates this summer, he said Egyptians have a role too.

“We have to understand that tourist-repelling factors in our country have become more than attractions. He said promotional campaigns won’t increase tourism but refined service would. El Babbly criticized the treatment tourists receive from the locals and the lack of cleanliness and order at tourist sites.

Share This Article
Leave a comment