Thursday, March 28, 2013

Egypt and the Palestinians: The Sadat legacy lives



The incitement and demonization of Palestinians in the Egyptian media is a continuation of a policy that began with Sadat. It is obvious that the Islamists in Egypt number in the millions and they have no need of Hamas or other Palestinians to carry out any of their agenda goals- whatever they are. Still the ongoing struggle in Egypt between the Islamists and the motley crew others somehow has the Palestinians injected in this quintessentially Egyptian struggle.

Despite the catastrophe/nakba of 1967 (1948 is a naksa in comparison- there was still strong hope of return up to June 4, 1967 ) and the other mistakes and disasters of the Nasser regime Palestinians remain overwhelming supportive of Nasser and his legacy. Many Egyptians find this Palestinian loyalty to Nasser aggravating. 

In Palestinians in the Arab World: Institution Building and the Search for State, Laurie A. Brand summarizes the punitive measures, the collective punishment of the Palestinians, that the Sadat regime took in retaliation for the Palestinians’ harsh criticism of his Camp David agreement. The current policies carried out by many Egyptians media outlets constitute a continuation of the Sadat legacy:

“As a corollary, many of the privileges that Palestinians in Egypt had enjoyed since the 1950s and early 1960s were gradually reviewed and cancelled.  Scholarships and subsidies for Palestinian students wishing to study in Egyptian universities were terminated; even Palestinian entry into Egyptian universities was restricted; and those who were accepted had to pay tuition in hard currency.  The days of subsidized health care for Palestinians in Egyptian hospitals also ended: Palestinians were expected to pay for their treatment in hard currency like other foreigners.  Gone were the days of the relatively free movement of members of the Palestinian resistance movement in and out of Egypt and the days of generalized feelings of solidarity and sympathy for the Palestinians among average Egyptians.  The media gradually succeeded in convincing many Egyptians that it was Palestinians who were responsible for Egypt’s involvement and sacrifices in four wars; that Palestinians were living in Egypt like kings; and that the resistance was corrupt.  Most devastating, the Egyptian media adopted and popularized one of the favorite Zionist myths: that the Palestinians had sold their land prior to 1948 and therefore did not deserve Palestine.”

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