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How'd they do it? - Daily News Egypt

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How’d they do it?

By Timothy Kaldas How’d they do it? How did Israel manage to bombard civilians with impunity and convince so many to stand silently by or even offer their endorsement and secure the support of many of their citizens who cheer on the attacks and encourage the Israeli military to go further? Many in Egypt are …

Timothy Kaldas
Timothy Kaldas

By Timothy Kaldas

How’d they do it? How did Israel manage to bombard civilians with impunity and convince so many to stand silently by or even offer their endorsement and secure the support of many of their citizens who cheer on the attacks and encourage the Israeli military to go further?

Many in Egypt are rightfully horrified by what is taking place in Palestine these days. Once again, the people of Gaza are being subject to brutal aerial bombardment and already hundreds have been killed. Once again, the world speaks disingenuously about avoiding civilian casualties and once again Israel’s right to defend itself is used to justify its decision to ruthlessly shoot with heavy artillery into an open air prison whose border exits are sealed while it cynically asks Gazans to “evacuate”.

Understandably, as Egyptians who are neighbours with Gazans, we are horrified by the crimes committed by Israel against them and many of us wonder aloud how is it possible that the world could remain silent as this happens? How could countries that claim to believe in human rights tolerate or even befriend a country which does such things? Why would they continue to give them aid and arms when they exhibit such behaviour?

These are all legitimate questions that need to be asked. Sadly, as Egyptians we’re very capable of answering these questions. Less than a year ago our government launched a brutal attack on a sit-in. In one day nearly 1000 people were massacred at the hands of our police. We were told the protesters were given warning, not unlike Israel’s insistence that it calls people to evacuate their homes before bombing them. Gazans have been told to evacuate and most sensible people ask, to where? The authorities claimed protesters were given safe passage out of Rabaa Al-Adaweya Square but the government’s own human rights commission has explained that these passageways were also under government fire and dangerous to use.

How, one wonders, could the Israelis accept that their government commits these crimes? In precisely the same way that so many of our fellow countrymen accepted an even more brutal massacre quite recently. The government has told the Israelis they are fighting terrorists. I’m sure we still remember what the protesters were called in the media in Egypt.

Some of us were particularly shocked by images of Israelis pulling up lawn chairs and watching the bombing as though it was some sort of open air live theater. It was indeed a disturbing sight to behold. Another event that disturbed me was when ONTV decided to replay images of the Rabaa massacre to the victorious music from the film “Rocky” in some sort of twisted celebration of mass murder.

Remember how you felt this past week and remember again how you felt last August. Remember all the condemnations of the US considering restricting military aid for Egypt while you demand they do precisely that towards Israel. The US is no moral authority in this world. It is the world’s largest arms seller and has a great deal of blood on its hands. At the same time we should remain aware of hypocrites in our society who denounce the US government’s decision to arm a nation that engages in war crimes while simultaneously attacking that same government for considering restricting arms sales to a state responsible for one of the largest massacres in modern human history: Egypt.

The sad truth is that humans are capable of tolerating and accepting remarkable levels of brutality. The kind grandmother can in the right circumstances casually justify sectarian murders during a civil war. An otherwise sweet and generous uncle can order his subordinates to open fire on unarmed civilians at a protest. Humans’ capacity to compartmentalise inhumanity is a consistent phenomenon in human history. That is why it is so important to be so vigilant and stand against any and all dehumanising discourses. You are not inherently better than anyone. Maintaining your decency isn’t simply a product of good genes or good parents, it’s a product of regular effort. It is, in times of crisis, a truly difficult thing to maintain.

How’d they do it? Much the same way we did.

Timothy Kaldas is a Professor of Politics at Nile University. You can follow him on Twitter at @tekaldas.

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  • guest

    Excellent article. Simply excellent.

  • camlass

    We kid ourselves that we are sophisticated, but deep down we are still savages.

  • Mariem

    This has to be the most thoughtless, selfish article i’v seen in a long time. You think its legit to compare people who decided to live for more than a month in the streets of a residential area, compromising the lives of the people who live their ignoring their wellbeing, ignoring the widows who couldnt sleep from the noise at night, ignoring the college students who missed their finals because they couldn’t leave the surrounded area bec of their walls and self made gaurded borders, ignoring the fact that they wouldn’t allow families to leave their own homes to stay with relatives in other districts so they had to leave create plans to decieve them to leave their homes, leaving without any of their personal belongings, imagine having to plan to trick some one so that you can run from your own surrounded house and leave everything you own behind just to live a stable life with your kids, ignoring the fact that when someone had stroke the ambulance coudln’t get there, ignoring that even when people died in their sit in the stashed them in amosque rather than admit their deaths and their inhuman state of life on the streets; when the police asked the ‘protesters’ to leave they were asking them to GO home to leave the people whor living in that area to live in peace, unlike the isrealis whor asking the people of gaza to LEAVE their homes. This comparison in itself is not just and proves selfishness to prove one right regardless of how other people have to suffer.

  • Michael Bassin

    Sorry Tim, but you’re a very badly informed journalist and professor or a professional Israel hater with a deceptive agenda. The actual statistics speak for themselves (as reported by Al-Jazeera) that Israel is targeting combatants and NOT civilians.


    You grossly distort the situation between Israel and Hamas and neglect to divulge whatsoever why Israel must defend itself and go on the attack. Where is your outrage at the atrocities committed by ISIS, Syria, or the Egyptian army under whose authority you live? Do you really think that if one compared Egyptian military tactics with the IDF’s, there would be any comparison?

    You and your country should look yourselves in the mirror and clean up your own back yard before throwing a sling of propagandist mud at your neighbors across the fence.

  • Deeply Concerning

    The author is implying (i) that Israel does not have the right to respond to the constant acts of terrorism it faces (a somewhat prevlent opinion these days for whatever bizarre and hypocritical reasons people may invoke) and (ii) that Hamas is not a terrorist organization (even more concerning, and it makes you wonder to what extent the author is part of the terrorist organization’s well documented propaganda campaign)

  • Zev Davis

    It’s amazing how you pick and choose what you write. Assuming you take an IDF commander’s world , and there is no reason for him to lie in front of microphone that is potentially available to the wolrld media, even you, my feathered friend. Their information is that residences in neighborhoods are used as bases of operations for Hamas, and they are paying the people that live there to remain. What happens is that the IDF tells the people that live there to leave rather than become victims of an aerial bombing. Rather than let them die, according to the commander, they are are forced out of their homes, and . . . their chances for living are better. I also hear that rockets are stored in UN schools, and the the United Nations is kind enough to return them to Hamas, and place them somewhere else–how kind of them!
    I have another question Tim, more basic. Why the tunnerls?! I realize that Egypt closed its side of the border, and they had to build tunnels in order smuggle canned goods, and other foodstuff that would have been subject to surtaxes, and stuff. The tunnels on the other side were meant to stage attacks on Israel. That being said, if you know your enemy is . . . and they stage aerial attacks on the civilian poplulation, well… wouldn’t air raid shelters and reinforced rooms we more essential to protect the people of Gaza? Or, is Hamas inculcating a culture of . . .something I cannot imagine a responsible leader perepetrating for their population.
    Yes, there would be fewer deaths and casualties with the civilians in places where they would be far from bombs. So you have an enemy, you don’t have to subject your civiilians to their miliitary moves.

  • BeAGoodNeighbor

    Wouldn’t the ‘neighborly’ thing for Egypt to do for Gaza be to be both horrified and proactive in assisting them, namely by opening the border to Egypt to allow Gazans safe harbor?

    “Egyptians who are neighbours with Gazans, we are horrified by the crimes committed by Israel against them and many of us wonder aloud how is it possible that the world could remain silent as this happens?”

    How are Egyptians silent when they could do so much for their neighbors?

  • bob+++

    when Egypt get’s into war will you think the same way???

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