Saturday, August 15, 2009
As Egyptian media accounts that the Raf’ah border is to open later this year to give way to religious Palestinians making for their annual Holy Pilgrimage toward Makkah in the final month of the Islamic Calendar, I begin to wonder what Husni Mubarak’s real intent is. After all, there is no doubt that those who are allowed to pass through Egypt’s Gates of Mercy will have to have been on a very narrow and short check list, and will have to adhere to certain principles, on a very long and wide check list.
Should we - as the Arab governments have - dote Mubarak with the most sincere of thank yous? This would mean complacency in his act of kindness, because after all, he was considerate enough to examine the fact that not all of us chant, ‘In the name of Israel, the most beneficent, the most merciful.’ Perhaps it is for this that in the recent war in Gaza left 92 mosques shredded to ballistic rubble in the recent 22-day war, and the shelling of not one was criticized by him.
I guess it can be safely assumed that Husni Mubarak considered it not within the rights of the Palestinian human beings to flee Gaza in the wake of the Israeli invasion in January 2009, yet somehow the relatives of the 2000-odd dead men, women and children (of just that war) have been cleared of terrorist status by Egypt’s secret-police scanner. Nice. Now 2k grieving relatives can have an extra weekly loaf of bread.
It is anyone’s wonder how much food the Egyptian border guards – forget the high government – consume on a daily basis themselves, as they regulate the passage of Palestinians toward Saudi Arabia, many of them who will be too weak from a lack of food, water, sanitary services and medical care to withstand the journey, elongated by border checks. It is anyone’s wonder how many band-aids the border guards have in their first-aid kits to apply in case one of them concedes a fatal one-inch scratch.
But what overwhelms my comprehension is the disparity in behavior that the government of Egypt has accepted in their own authority over the border crossing. Why allow the Palestinians to go for Hajj? What is so special to Mubarak, who strings the country’s decision-makers to his fiddle, that he would permit the mass-exodus, albeit temporary, toward Saudi Arabia and possibly financial and military aid, amongst others? If the aim of closing Raf’ah was to, as was said, stymie the influx of weapons into Gaza and the West Bank, what makes him so sure that this can be avoided during the two-day grace period?
Clearly it is not in fear of the Arab alliance, a multitude of horse-totting PROs who are really just two sides of the same glitter-ordained pillow upon which he tucks under him every night. I don’t regard his compassion worth mulling over, and if anyone states otherwise I suggest they grab hold of a Palestinian passport. But that isn't needed; the silence tuned by him and the overshadowing coverage of his grandson's death in contrast to the media attention of a blatant racial, nationalistic and facist crime committed on an Egyptian national in Germany narrates itself. If he won't speak up for Marwa al Sharbini, why for the pawns on his chessboard of power?
I do have one theory though: Maybe it is to give false hope to the people, and halt 14-year-old Sa’id and his 13-year old friend Hamdan, who are breadwinners of their families, digging one of the many 700m-1km long underground tunnels that have spurned out of necessity since every single border post across the region has been suffocated slowly since Hamas won the elections democratically in 2005. Even though they have to skip school like all the other boys their age who partake in the same, Sa’id explains it is a lucrative business, and elaborates a pack of cigarettes bought in Egypt for 10 cents can be sold for a dollar – 10x the profit. He says if he has to, he’ll do it to the day he dies. When they stop digging, the tunnel will be bombed, and they’ll have to start from scratch again. By then, it’ll probably be Eid, so the border will be reopened.
This, however, is just speculation, and I have not got the answer I want. So as I stand on the curb, I still wonder, what is his intent?