Egypt: Bloggers on the Fence

Sitting on the fence requires objectivity, tolerance, and integrity. Mona Eltahawy chose to sit on the fence and Amr Gharbeia asks people to choose a solution.

In her post: “On Fence Toughtest Stance in Mideast“, Mona Eltahawy stated that:

it’s too easy to take sides in the Middle East conflict. Few other parts of the world inspire such passion or leave such little room for doubt. For many, choosing sides is just an afterthought to their birthright: If you’re an Arab, go join the Free Palestine demonstrations; and if you’re Jewish, go join the Save Israel marches.

Don’t forget, you can always throw God into the mix. Lay claim to your holy sites and you’ll have religiously sanctioned wrath to fuel your rage.

Then she asks:

what’s the point of choosing sides when both sides are losing? The real challenge when it comes to the Middle East is to sit on the fence and to understand that as with most chapters of this interminable conflict, civilians pay the most expensive price.

The best unbiased advice she could give is:

From that perch up there on the fence, keep your eyes firmly on Israeli and Palestinian civilians and ask about the responsibility of leaders to their people.

The civilians of Gaza are victims of both Hamas and Israel.

The former have been more concerned with firing ineffectual rockets at southern Israel where they targeted the very group of people they are now accusing Israel of hurting the most in Gaza — civilians.

Israel has launched a punishing bombardment and invasion of Gaza that will be used as the latest proof that it is the neighbourhood bully. Its actions are bound to turn Hamas into the very heroes they don’t deserve to be and possibly unleash a new wave of unconscionable suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

And all for what?

And she warns:

For those of us from the region, the easiest thing might be to follow our birthright to bias but the hardest thing is to scream “Enough” at a time when both sides seem bent on mutual destruction and when to criticize your side ensures accusations of being a sellout.

Finally she insists on:

staying on that fence and being a sellout for peace.

Stay on that fence with me and scream and yell for a ceasefire.

Enough violence.

Amr Gharbeia created a poll on his blog asking voters to choose one of nine options to end the conflict and the results showed that the majority of people just want peace and democracy:

يخرج السكان اليهود من الأرض و تعود بالكامل للمسلمين، و من يبقى يصير من أهل الذمة
26% (50 صوتا)
يخرج السكان اليهود من الأرض و تعود بالكامل للعرب، و من يبقى منهم يصير مواطنا من الدرجة الثانية
8% (16 صوتا)
يعود اللاجئون العرب و يعيشون مع اليهود في دولة ديمقراطية على كامل تراب فلسطين تعطي العرب تمييزا إيجابيا لفترة ما
34% (66 صوتا)
تقوم دولة فلسطينية في حدود تقسيم الأمم المتحدة 1937
5% (10 أصوات)
تطبق القرارات الدولية و تقوم دولة فلسطينية في حدود ما قبل يونيو 1967 مع عودة اللاجئين
12% (23 صوتا)
تقوم دولة فلسطينية طبقا لما تصل إليه المفاوضات التي سقفها الأعلى حدود ما قبل يونيو 1967. عودة اللاجئين خاضعة للتفاوض
8% (15 صوتا)
تقام دولة في الضفة الغربية و أخرى في غزة
2% (3 أصوات)
تسيطر الأردن على الضفة الغربية و مصر على غزة و يستوعب اللاجئون في البلاد الأخرى
2% (4 أصوات)
يهجر العرب خارج أرض إسرائيل
5% (9 أصوات)
The Jewish settlers leave, Palestine becomes a Muslim country, and the Jews who stay behind are treated as Dhimmi (50 votes/26%)
The Jewish settlers leave, Palestine becomes a Muslim country, and the Jews who stay behind are treated as second degree citizens (16 votes/8%)
The Arab refugees and the Israelis live together in Palestine in a democratic country – a positive privilege for the Arabs (66 votes/34%)
Establish the Palestinian state according to UN resolution in 1937 (10 votes/5%)
Establish the Palestinian state according to the international community's decision before 1967 in addition to the return of the refugees (23 votes/12%)
Establish the Palestinian state according to the international community's decision before 1967 – the return of the refugees is subject to further negotiations (15 votes/8%)
Establish two countries; one in the West Bank and one in Gaza (3 votes/2%)
Jordan oversees the West Bank, Egypt is in charge of Gaza, and the refugees find another home (4 votes/2%)
The Arabs are forced to leave Israel (9 votes/5%)


  • Peter H

    I am an American Jew who supports Palestinian rights & resolutely opposes the Israeli operations against Gaza. I have to say, though, I find it disturbing that 34% of Amr Gharbeia’s readers favor some kind of solution where “The Jewish settlers leave Palestine”.

  • Manus

    Human rights and morality as well as realpolitiks are facing a critical test at the moment. To talk about having restrained or moderate opinions when we are witnessing this carnage will be just confusing at the moment. I do not believe that we have reached that stage yet. Also, would any Israeli government be capable of striking any type of deal with the Palestinians? I do not believe that the Israeli political system is able to deal with the concept of land for peace. After all, Israel is an ethnocratic theocracy with universal suffrage and any kind of coalition with the religious parties will end by the collapse of the government. No resolution allowing a viable Palestinian State will be carried out through the Knesset and that without the prospect of a referendum which will surely end with a “NO”. I do not believe that peace is feasible even if Hamas/Arafat/Whatever no longer exists or has never existed.

  • Lane

    For what it’s worth, I think in the last posting (the poll, in Arabic), the word you’ve translated as “settlers” should be “residents” (sukkan). The poll is asking whether all Jewish *residents* should be forced out, left to become dhimmi, etc, not just what we in English call settlers (now confined to the West Bank).

  • Manus

    For what it’s worth, the word you’ve translated as “residents” (MO9IMEEN ) should be “Inhabitants” (SUKKAN). Also, by using a medieval term (DHIMMI) you are implying that the new Palestinian state will have a 6th century fiscal system that practised Jizya. Most Arab countries have a secular legal systems inspired from Franco-British jurisprudence. The only two exceptions Iran and Saudi-Arabia do not practise Jizya. If you are looking for an ethnocracy Israel will be your best candidate.

  • Manus


    If there was a logical explanation to these bizarre statistics, they will be based on the assumption that the settlers in the west-bank seem to represent the Jewish Orthodox brand of classical Judaism. Therefore, even assuming that Palestine will be a secular democratic state, I do not believe that the supporters of Gush Emunim or people like Gilad Zar will accept to live under a Palestinian authority. This will be heresy as far as these groups of settlers are concerned.

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