By David Sheen
When Egyptians began to reclaim their streets en masse three weeks ago, it immediately excited me. I’d been to Egypt three times before and met some great people there, but could never return them the favour of hosting them here, because visiting Israel would put them on a no-*everything* list, they told me, effectively forbidding every activity to them upon their return. Why this fear of good neighbourly relations?
There’s been a peace treaty between the two countries for more than thirty years, but Egyptian civil society maintains a list of grievances against Israel. First of all, unfair trade: Israel only pays a fraction of the market rate for Egyptian natural gas. Second of all, collaboration with occupation: Israel has not resolved its feud with the Palestinian people, and has Egypt enforce its punitive military siege on the Gaza Strip.
Third of all, and maybe most importantly, dictatorial support: as people all over the world expressed solidarity with the Egyptians demanding democracy, Israeli politicians urged Obama to come quick to Mubarak’s aid. And it seems that a not-insignificant percentage of the population echoed these sentiments. Many Israelis were emotionally invested in the unjust and unsustainable status quo that existed until February 11.
So I documented the incidences in which ordinary Israelis did take to the streets to show their support for the people of Egypt and their demands for food, fairness and freedom. And as I uploaded these clips, I began to hear from Egyptian protesters who appreciated the words of brotherly love. When you’re demonstrating all day and camping out in the cold, it really helps to hear that others are out there rooting for you.
The first two demonstrations took place in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv, and were made up mainly of Palestinian-Israelis with some Jewish Israelis. The third demonstration took place in a central square in downtown Tel Aviv, and consisted mostly of Jewish Israelis with some Palestinian Israelis. Before a fourth demo could be organized, the people of Egypt had already forced Mubarak out of office!
In the second and third videos, I also interview people passing by on the street, in order to better understand the protesters in the context of Israeli society, to see how their are perceived. All of the spoken Hebrew and Arabic has been subtitled into English for your convenience. It becomes apparent that the demonstrators are on the mere margins of the mainstream political discourse. Still, they fight for what is right.