Egyptians have a proverb that goes, “Pharaoh, how did you end up a tyrant?” He said, “No one put me in check.” Now, I have been following the unfolding events in my motherland, between experiments in my lab at UMass Medical School, and it seems that the check has occurred.
It is important that we recognize that this is not an Islamic revolution and not a single chant was against the west. At the same time, this was far from being a secular revolt. The protest started immediately after the weekly congregational prayers and many of the Muslim protesters paused three times later for the afternoon, sunset and night prayers, as they assembled in the streets and knelt toward Mecca. There is a need for us to appreciate the new vocabulary of young Egyptians that seek a more prosperous future of opportunity, while recognizing the long-term stability provided by faith.
Denial has stopped flowing in Egypt last week, and because it’s Egypt, denial must stop its flow here as well. Our challenge in the United States is to recognize Egypt as an ally, not for the mere security of Israel, but for the spread of humanistic values and democracy. Furthermore, in the context of Israeli-Arab relations, Israel has the daunting challenge of learning how to promote its interests by appealing to the Arab public, not by brokering deals with dictators. In the words of Bob Dylan, “The times, they are a-changin.”