15 06 2015

When the Egyptian Junta brutally took power in Egypt undoing the popular grass-roots Egyptian Revolution of 2011 I told friends, and the Egyptian Ambassador personally when I bumped into him, that I would not be going to Egypt again, nor even to the Embassy near my home, as long as the Junta was in power.   It was my own personal boycott statement, and not a small one for me.   Since my student days when I first journeyed representing the International Student Movement for the United Nations,  I have visited Egypt maybe 50 times and come to deeply respect its distinct people, culture, and history.    I then was the first  American Jewish journalist officially invited as a three-week priviledged guest of the Government.  As a result I met many times with then Minister of State Boutros Ghali and other top Ministers and officials.  And then at the end I met alone for an hour with President Sadat.  It was that meeting with me that in fact helped convince Sadat to make his fateful visit to Israel which then led to Camp David, to the separate peace treaty, to Sadat’s assassination, and to Apartheid Israel.  There’s so much I have come to regret.

But I had to gulp this morning when I read the lead Washington Post editorial condemning General Sissi as well as President Obama for supporting him.   The last paragraph of that editorial reads:  “A violent regime breeds more violence.  Sadly, Mr. Sissi is being aided and abetted by the Obama Administration, which recently renewed more than $1 billion in U.S. military aid.  It’s a mistake whose bloody consequences are becoming increasingly evident.”

BDS against Israel has become an important movement as well as symbol.   In many ways I realize the Israeli case is a special sui generis one.   Even so, when it comes to today’s Middle East we have to stop being single-focused and try to understand the whole region in all of its complexities.   Boycotting the Egyptian Junta, as well as its sponsor and financier the Saudis, is also something we should be personally practicing as well as advocating.