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Close your eyes

By Wael Eskander A young black girl is raped and abused by two racist white men, who are then shot by the girl’s father during their trial. This is the premise of ‘A Time to Kill’, a book by John Grisham. In the courtroom drama the lawyer attempts to convince the jury to release the …

Wael Eskandar
Wael Eskandar

By Wael Eskander

A young black girl is raped and abused by two racist white men, who are then shot by the girl’s father during their trial. This is the premise of ‘A Time to Kill’, a book by John Grisham. In the courtroom drama the lawyer attempts to convince the jury to release the father but finds it difficult to find sympathy in the south. In the movie version the lawyer finally asks the jury to close their eyes and picture the rape, but with a young white girl and two black men.

Oftentimes we’re not colour-blind and the many colours of our biases in terms of gender, race, nationality or faith blind us and make us see similar things differently. We sympathise only with those who are of our same race, faith or language but we forget that others we vilify are of the same species.

Close your eyes. Imagine children happily playing football on a beach. Imagine the sound of waves and their shouts and giggles as they play. Imagine these serene sounds disrupted by an explosion on the shore. Imagine their screams as they run from the incoming blasts and then imagine four of them dead on the beach moments later.

Now imagine these four children are Israeli and that the bombs that allow the operator to see the target and abort were fired by Palestinians.

Now imagine that you’re Israeli.

Would it be okay for people to accept the outcome because the Palestinian forces did not intend to target civilians? Would it be okay if the Palestinian army dropped bombs on your home just because they claimed IDF was using the building to fire rockets at Gaza?

They send you a message on your phone asking me to evacuate your building to equally dangerous neighbourhoods that have received similar warnings. How would you feel? Would you condemn the Palestinian army or would you commend its operation?

Back to the reality of our current rhetoric, it’s easy to get into the defensive talking points set forth by Israeli apologists. “Israel has a right to defend itself”, “Hamas are using civilians as human shields”, “Hamas is to blame for making Israel do this”, “Hamas is firing from hospitals and schools”, “Israel is not targeting civilians”.

These excuses have echoed in Egypt’s mainstream media and many have come out in support of Israel just to spite Hamas. Each of these excuses more ludicrous than the one before it, each with a flaw in logic, morals or information. How does killing children defend Israel? How can you blame someone else for your own killing? How can a death toll with an insignificant percentage of militant deaths not be targeting civilians? But all these explanations will not be necessary if you close your eyes and imagine it were the other way around, if it was someone you truly cared about being bombed.

One thing often forgotten is that the siege on Gaza is largely Egypt’s responsibility, but some are willing to turn a blind eye and vilify Israel alone.  The rhetoric in Egypt seems to be that it’s okay to bomb Gaza because they elected Hamas. But close your eyes once again and imagine it was Cairo under siege and by that same rationale, its civilian population is bombed. Would it make it all right if the Muslim Brotherhood were in power? Close your eyes and think of your family being bombed having no shelter to run to, then hearing from your closest neighbours that the targeting is well deserved.

Gaza is not Hamas, civilians in Gaza are not Hamas and the children are not Hamas.

The same double standards are everywhere. Many Egyptians looks at Mosul in Iraq where Christians are being evicted, but all they need to do is look inside Egypt for similar incidents. Many Egyptians look to massacres everywhere in condemnation but do not utter a word of protest when a thousand people are killed in a day.

We live in a world where biases blind us. Numbers don’t mean a thing and neither does logic when we feel strongly about something. “It’s different in this case” is present in our internal monologue whether it really is different or not.

True blindness happens when your eyes are wide open, when you’re paying attention to the differences rather than looking at what’s common.

Close your eyes and imagine you’re not who you are, that you’re not the nationality, religion or colour that you are. Maybe it’s only through closing our eyes that we may get to open them.


Wael Eskandar is an independent journalist and blogger based in Cairo. He is a frequent commentator on Egyptian politics and has written for Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Counterpunch, and Jadaliyya, among others. He blogs at notesfromtheunderground.net.

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  • Reda Sobky

    I feel you misstate the situation. The tunnels were active and Hamas co existed one way or another with Egypt until they tried to become a player on the ground in Egypt killing Egyptians on Egyptian soil in favor of their co members in the international organization. That was extremely unwise and suicidal behavior and the menacing presentation of challenging the Egyptian state in South Sinai exploding bombs and killing tourists and mass execution of soldiers, that was it…Hamas had to go and the tunnels were dismantled and they lost their income base and that precipitated a need to escalate the crises otherwise become extinct-so they or one of their surrogates then murders the three kids and from there it has become a narcissistic fugue of the highest order with each side jokeying to appear to be the victim while hitting as hard as they can where it hurts. This time the Goliath and David appears to be reversing back and forth with the bully being who you think it is and the other a righteous but angry victim. It is an eternal dance of the oppressed and the oppressor but what happens when there are interlocking delusions in which each is the victim of the other, there the conflict could be eternal, influenced by a dialectic with no end and possessing such a strong charge that some are willing to die based on promoting it through their homicide / suicide.

    • Guest

      Bothe “David and Goliath” want to extinguish each other here in Gaza. While ever this mentality exist there will never be peace. Not even in the next 2000 years.

    • Alan Cockayne

      Both “David and Goliath” want to extinguish each other here in Gaza. While ever this mentality exist there will never be peace. Not even in the next 2000 years.

    • omega pal

      Watch that video to see how Israel is a leader of corruption of world through divers lobbies in different western countries include Australia and Canada. Don’t be fool by western leader.Here the case of UK :


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  • sam enslow

    No mention that in yet another replay of the Gaza scenario that Hamas made no efforts to protect the people of Gaza.There was cement for tunnels, but none for shelters? The only reasons more Israelis are not dead is Hamas bought/made inaccurate rockets and Israel took care of its people and has concern for their lives. The only relief the people of Gaza have comes from international agencies.
    “War is Hell.” I most wars more civilians die than combantants. Ask the peope of Coventry and Dresden and St. Petersburg. Hamas rejected many cease fires that should have been accepted not for the sake of Israel but for the people of Palestine.
    An Israeli mothers cries as much as a Palestinian mother. In fact, it was mothers who finally caused the end of the war in Northern Ireland. They finally said that they produced children to be doctors, teachers, shopkeepers, etc. – not dead martyrs.

  • Ayman

    In your opening story, the father is guilty of killing two men, so he should not be let go, but be executed. Performing a crime as revenge for another crime is still wrong and not excusable. Hamas has been guilty of numerous crimes as other comments have listed a few of them. Your article seems to insinuate that Hamas should not pay the price for these crimes, with which I completely disagree, logically and also by mulsim faith which teaches us that there is wisdom in enacting justice with no excuses. In any side’s attemp to enact justice, the other side will try and escape that punishment or try to turn the tables and appear to be the victim. This is exactly what is happening here. Ask yourself who started this instance of killing, the killing of the three israeli teenagers, and you will have your answer of who should be punished. What you can accuse Israel of is going overboard and killing innocents who had nothing to do with this. I also resent your accusation of similar crimes in Egypt, we did not kill our people with F-16s and Apache helicopters. All the people here that were killed was during direct confrontation with the MB militia camps and their armed riots.

  • SayItAsItIs

    So many fools comment here with so little context, sadly all of them missed the point of this great article.

    Keep up the good work Wael Eskander, as the blind with eyes keep marching to the tune of their biases while in complete denial of reality.

    Each explanation for the atrocities witnessed every day is dressed and coloured with biases. I am still astounded at the number of Israelis who sat outdoor on a hill near Gaza watching the bombardment .. whole families. That kind of voyeurism can only come from a society so polarised by hatred and perceived righteousness, that it has lost its ability to see those it oppresses as human being… may be that is the issue? one can’t imagine the other being of equal value when one’s own faith preaches that you are the “Chosen People”.

  • omega pal

    Wael is talking to about most of those who are coming to comment on this opinion.Some are just like a weather vane.No abstraction, no fact,no cross references,no reflection. Brief no intellectual thinking.They do not go over their emotion and feeling.Everything is the same.They are on” i don’t like i don’t” or ” i like and I do”.What is even pathetic only hate writing and narratives which do not stand up.For some they do not have anything to say but they just use English slang words. Many are going to see themselves in my writing but I hope they are going to change to give us much constructive combat of idea and ineligible critical.

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