The first thing many Egyptians ask me when we meet is, where are you from – which is almost always met with a warm, sincere gaze followed by a sweet line saying that “Egyptians behiboo (love) Fulusteen”, and/or “Fulusteenis ehsan nas”, Palestinians are the best people (often followed by a funny look, due to my Arabic accent, to which I reply I was born in America;). An Egyptian friend, who was concerned about me being here on my own told me: “When you meet Egyptians, tell them that you’re Fulusteeni and they will protect you and take care of you…even better than if you told them that you are Egyptian! The people of Egypt feel responsible for what happened to Palestine in 1967” (due to losing the war with Israel). These words were running through my head and uttered just a few short moments before I witnessed the news about the Palestinian flag being raised in place of the the Israeli flag at the Israeli Embassy, in Cairo. In fact ironically, 41 years ago on the same exact day (April 9th), Israel dropped five bombs and two missiles on Egyptian school children in a small village near the Suez Canal. That tragic encounter of the Egyptian people with their recently arrived ‘neighbors’, sent yet another of many unmistakable messages, of its indiscriminate brutality and aggression that targets innocent children and unarmed civilians–and is still deeply ingrained in the people’s memory.
Though the act of removing the Israeli flag from the Embassy, may serve as little more than a symbolic gesture for some, it also signifies something far more profound. It speaks directly to so many Palestinians, who for so long have felt ignored and isolated from their Arab brothers and sisters, and that they have not been forgotten in all the excitement generated in this wave of revolts sweeping the Arab world. In addition the show by the people, it may be the first step in articulating the demands that protesters marched from Tahrir, to the Israeli Embassy with:
“some of the protesters expressed their anger at the recent unjust Israeli attacks on Gaza and they made it clear they expected nothing less than the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador out of Egypt and taking the Israeli flag off the embassy building. Some of the protesters went far as to demand the immediate end to the siege imposed on Gaza from the Egyptian side and a freeze of the Egyptian supply of natural gas to Israel. But the most daring request came by many protesters who called for a public referendum to allow the Egyptian people to have their say about the peace treaty president Sadat had signed 30 years ago” (http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2011/04/09/breaking-news-israeli-embassy-in-cairo-under-siege) sending a clear statement to Egyptian officials and whoever will make up their new government.
I believe that following the protesters strong show of support for the Palestinian people, it is no coincidence that the same night the army brutally attacked the peaceful protesters in the square, killing two people and injuring dozens! This was the first true demonstration by the army, showing where their true loyalties lie; and it is not with the people. Since that night, everything has changed and now the Egyptian people who were giving the benefit of doubt to the army, have no further illusion to the loyalties of the reminiscent regime. On April 9th, the people realized, perhaps for the first time that they truly are on their own. If any meaningful gains will be made in the future of the country, it will be up to them to keep up the pressure, their demands in the forefront – and most importantly the realization of Nasser’s dream: the unity of the Arab people.
link to video of USA made bullets, fired at protesters April 9th: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/video/video.php?v=203332463022720¬if_t=video_tag</a>
link to burnt out army buses:) http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/video/video.php?v=203321373023829¬if_t=video_tag</a>