About an hour ago I was on gchat with my mom and she sent me a message saying, “Mubarak stepped down!” Immediately I told everyone in my apartment [Amir, Jen, and Eli] and we turned on the TV and started talking.
When I was a sophomore in college I read the book, “In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing” by Bob and Lee Woodruff. In 2006 Bob Woodruff was in Iraq filming a segment for ABC’s World News Tonight when an explosive device went off near the tank he was in. The result? Bob suffered a traumatic brain injury that nearly killed him. After being in a coma and everyone having the idea that his brain would never return back to normal, Bob made a remarkable recovery and is now back to working as a news anchor.
The book talks about the accident, and his recovery, and it also gives a background on Bob and Lee and their life before the traumatic event. At one point Bob recalls the moment he caught the journalism “bug” while covering the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square. This was when students and others rallied together and held riots which resulted in the collapse of a number of communist governments around the world.
I remember after this section I shut the book and thought to myself how I would love to have a similar experience one day. I would like to be somewhere in the world where a major news event is occurring and I could see it firsthand and, possibly give some insider information that might not be clearly said on other news outlets. Right now Tahrir Square looks like New York City on New Years, where Egyptians are celebrating. All over Egypt, and other Arab countries in the world, there are celebrations. And here I am, in Israel, less than an hour drive from the borders of many Arab countries, in the thick of it all. I am having my Bob and Lee Woodruff moment.
As Joe Biden just said, this is “a pivotal moment in history.” Jen, Amir, Eli,and I all said how we always need to remember where we were and what was happening when we found out. We were all together cooking dinner in the kitchen, eating it, watching the news, (we are so fortunate to be in an apartment with a TV, although we only have access to Fox News) talking and wondering what the hell is going to happen next.
Mubarak did not treat his Egyptians well, they were certainly repressed. Many said they were treated like fools; there was a lot of unnecessary violence, a lot of the poor being too poor (many were living on less than $2.00 a day) and the rich being too rich. After decades of repression, where their basic human rights (lack of freedom, food, employment, education) were completely disregarded. Now that Mubarak stepped down they will do whatever they can to get the freedom and rights they desire through (hopefully) free and fair elections. And for this I am very happy for the Egyptian people. As Nancy Pelosi recently tweeted, “Their actions are an inspiration to the world.”
Right now there is a lot of trepidation, and I am sure all of you are a bit nervous, wondering what is going to happen next. But we have to sit back and realize that the question right now is not WHAT’S next, but WHO’S next? WHO is going to run this country as it is reborn under some other form of government?
Egypt is currently the best and most trusted Arab ally to the western world. If they decide to ditch the Camp David Peace Accords [peace treaty between Egypt and Israel] then there will no longer be peace between Israel and Egypt. There also may no longer be peace between the Arab world and the western world.
Selfishly Muhbarak was good for the US and Israel in the sense that he kept the peace. Now that Muhbarak has stepped down there is a huge unknown. I hope that a true democracy will come of this. As Eli said, “This could be George Bush’s dream — a democracy in an Arab country.”
The flipside of this, is if the new ruling falls in the hands of the extremists and autocratic rulers. Keep in mind also, that the Iranians are exhilarated over this, and as Eli also said earlier, “Iran is stronger now too. That is more concerning for Israel than a lot of other things I think right now.”
Right now in Israel it is 8:42 p.m. on a Friday evening, a Sabbath evening. So in Israel, the official announcement of Muhbarak stepping down hasn’t even been released yet. I have to wonder if those who are Shomer Shabbas (don’t use electricity among other things) know what just happened.
A final thing to note is how these protests started due to the usage of social networking sites — Twitter and Facebook. At first I couldn’t believe it. But then I thought about Johannes Guttenberg and when he invented the printing press in 1450. Because of this people now had direct access to the Bible, and so the printing press soon led to the Protestant Reformation. Without the invention many think that the Reformation may have never taken place. Without Mark Zuckerberg and his invention of Facebook would all of this have happened? Pretty crazy to think about.
I’ll try to continue to keep everyone updated on how it all unfolds over here in Israel. For now I am going to go anxiously wait to see Obama speak.