In the wake of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarek, we have heard much praise for the “Arab Street,” including by Roger Cohen writing in The New York Times two days ago:
In the Middle East you expect the worst. But having watched Egypt’s extraordinary civic achievement in building the coalition that ousted Mubarak, having watched Tahrir Square become cooperation central, and having watched the professionalism of the Egyptian army, I’m convinced the country has what it takes to build a decent, representative society — one that gives the lie to all the stereotypes associated with that dismissive shorthand “The Arab Street.”
In fact, post-Tahrir, let’s retire that phrase.
Let’s not retire the phrase.
There is a reason Jews in particular fear the “Arab Street” and that fear has not gone away, as this recent video of “death to the Jews” being chanted outside a synagogue in Tunisia shows (h/t Solomonia):
The use of the term “Arab Street” has nothing to do with those in the Arab world who preach tolerance and want peace. Those demonstrators should be praised. Unfortunately, those with a Western bent never seem to control the street for long.
The “Arab Street” is bad enough when it is marching outside a synagogue in a country which has few Jews left.
If the “Arab Street” takes over the largest military in the Arab world bordering Israel, I wonder if Roger Cohen still will be singing its praises.
Update: In a story just reported, it turns out that in the moments after Hosni Mubarek resigned the crowds in Tahrir square were not all so peaceful, Lara Logan Suffered ‘Brutal’ Sexual Assault In Egypt. I assume that will be Roger Cohen’s next column.
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