December 29, 2003
My friend, and sometimes Spot On commenter, SMFA sent me an article a few weeks ago about Egyptian foreign minister going to Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem to worship and getting beat up by some Palestinians. Then, I didn’t hear about it again. Jay Nordlinger has more on this story:
A remarkable event occurred, of which we should all take note. In Jerusalem, the Egyptian foreign minister went to Al Aqsa mosque to worship. He was attacked by Palestinians . . . and had to be rescued by the Israeli police. There is so much in this story — so much that is illustrative — the mind reels.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher (no relation to Bill, as far as I know) stepped into the mosque with only his (Egyptian) bodyguards — of course, no Israeli protector could defile that place. Maher was then physically attacked by a mob accusing him of being a sell-out, an Arab Uncle Tom. (Understand that in much of the Middle East, an Uncle Tom is someone who doesn’t want to burn Israel to the ground right today.) The mob was too great for the Egyptian bodyguards alone. Israeli police, duly waiting outside, rushed into the mosque and extricated the terrified foreign minister (the photos tell it all). Then Mr. Maher was taken by an Israeli ambulance to an Israeli hospital for treatment. Prime Minister Sharon phoned with his concern and best wishes.
All of this, of course, is deeply humiliating to many Egyptians, and to many Arabs generally: that the foreign minister of the most important Arab state should have to be saved from savages by Israelis — by Jews. Naturally, the story was put out quickly that these weren’t Arabs who attacked Maher, but Jews! Then — when that proved too fanciful, even for the Middle East — it was put out that the Jews had provoked the attack on the foreign minister.
Nevertheless, most Arabs knew precisely what had occurred (we may safely assume), even if it was painful to admit.
This little episode provides so much to ponder — about intra-Arab relations, about international relations, and about the nature of Israel — it could last you for weeks.