Every once in a while I get something wrong when I post on here…to my credit, it’s not often, but it can be embarrassing when it happens. Two days ago, I allowed myself to shoot from the hip about my reaction to something, and then I did a little more research and found out the point I was making was not supported by the evidence. Since I care about evidence, this was more than a little disconcerting…still, again, to my credit, I caught this particular error myself and immediately issued a very public correction when I did (which is still on my blog in its entirety, with a copy of the text I pulled off of Facebook when I discovered the error). I may not always be right, but when I am wrong, I don’t hide it and pretend I’m perfect…as many people in this world do.
Anyway, when something like that happens, you often look around, defensively perhaps, for something you were right about. Fortunately, I didn’t have too look too hard given today’s news. Egypt has gotten Israel and the Gaza Palestinians to agree to a truce. On the 18th and 19th, I said that they had a great incentive to play a real mediating role, despite the showy anti-Israeli rhetoric of leading Egyptian politicians. I said that Israel would trust Egypt to play this role, fire and brimstone condemnations of Israeli foreign policy notwithstanding, because Egypt realises its real interests are in peace with the Israelis rather than widening the conflict and helping Hamas create more trouble out of some misplaced ethnic/religious solidarity.
I was right. Egypt came through exactly as I thought it would.
One of the people with whom I routinely have political discussions on Facebook commented that he didn’t address matters in the Middle East because, unlike me, he doesn’t “have a horse in that race”. That comment bugged me, because I do realise a lot of the things I say about matters Middle Eastern are sloughed off by people precisely because they also feel that it is outside their area of real concern – they, too, do not think they “have a horse in that race”. Indeed, many people who have pronounced positions on matters Middle Eastern are also not people we want to emulate for their fairness or reasonability, so one is at pains, if one does have a “horse in that race”, to distinguish oneself from those others.
I know that, whenever I pipe up to say that I don’t think Israelis should have rockets dropped on them, I am allowing others to move me into a position where I become the slanted “pro-Israeli” individual. I am pro-Israeli, but I like to think I’m pro-everyone unless given a reason not to be.
Hamas has given me lots of reasons not to be pro-Gaza Palestinian, though of course there are people who live in the Gaza Strip who are not Hamas supporters, and are just ordinary people trying to live in a war zone. I also know that, by being critical of Hamas, I am allowing others to move me into a position where I become the person who doesn’t care about those ordinary Gazans.
_But_ – the great thing about the news of this truce is that I can definitively portray myself in a way I find more flattering…as a person whose unflagging faith in the Arab Spring led him to trust Egypt to broker an end to the killing. I am, indeed, delighted that the Egyptians came through.
I am also delighted to utter a phrase I don’t feel I get a chance to say often enough – “Arab peacemaker”.
Israelis often complain (and with considerable historical justification) that they have no partners for peace on the Palestinian side. But in Mohammed Morsi they appear to have one, at least for now.