I know a lot of people who would love to be called pundits, who like to shine on us with their wisdom and educate us and the world about all sorts of things!! Recently, I came across one of them. An Egyptian lady who posts on her website a long and impressive CV stamped by an award and a recognition as a columnist and speaker about Arab & Muslim affairs. Her last dose of wisdom was a lecture at the University of Delaware. It was titled understanding the Arabs!
Now, you would assume that the purpose of this lecture by an Arab "independent" pundit would be to help the world understand the Arabs. The People. How they think? What are their priorities? What are the causes that matter to them the most? And how can those interested reach out to the Arab people for the greater good. However, what you get is an incosistent and lame trial to promote and push and shove in everybody's head certain beliefs and certain agendas that will actually give "Those" interested all the needed tools to keep us as the most shattered nation in the world for centuries to come!
Ms. Al Tahawy took pride in announcing to her audience that Arab Unity has been shattered and forever. She did her best to throw about assurances that Arab Unity "and I'm talking about the Arab Street here" is an outdated legend that no one believes in anymore. In fact, she made an interesting announcement, and I quote "There is no such thing as an Arab Street". It feels like the kind of message a zionist would like to send to the American Government assuring them that no matter what you do to this pathetic nation they shouldn't worry about any comeback or a resilient and meaningful stand from them. It's an invitation for everyone to come and wreck havoc in the middle east!
But you kind of understand where that declaration she made comes from. Al Tahaway spent the most part of her lecture talking about regimes! and to be more specific four regimes. Carefully selected and for different but mirrored reasons. I think it was an ill-advised decision to call this lecture "Understanding the Arabs". It should have been called "Understanding America's proxies and its enemies".
I don't see how more than an hour of talking about the Egyptian, Saudi, Qatari and Syrian regime would help the west understand the Arabs! Aren't these the same regimes that made the world misunderstand us in one way or another? Aren't these regimes the screens put between us and the world that makes us look useless, violent and unready for democracy? How can she make such a mistake?... Or was it??
For someone who takes pride in being progressive, moderate and egyptian, it surprises me to hear the loaded words she was gracing the crowd with. She is actually promoting Saudi now! Talking about an important and commendable change in the highly conservative Saudi government. Pushing people to accept that change in Saudi is hard and has to be done slowly. You know, that kind of change with a pace that you will live you entire life without ever noticing. And then, she shrinks Qatar and its policy into the role of the jealous loser brother!! One that is desparately trying to piss the Saudis off!! Like a girl crying during her elder sister's birthday to get some attention. According to her, whatever Qatar does is merely the opposite of what Saudi does! Along the way, she did her utmost to shatter the reputation of the most reliable media outlet in the Arab world, Aljazeera. The only station where arabs can listen to the real story. The only channel that can actually reach the world, and tell them in English our point of view and what the other channels don't show. According to her, Aljazeera entices the masses by showing unnecessary and biased information and images from Palestine and Iraq. It's very depressing to see an "Enlightened" arab denounce the only free media in the arab world, and for the same reasons Bush and Netenyahu will flag. Again, in the process she promoted Al Arabiyya! A biased station built to counter Aljazeeraa and sell out to the masses any idea that comes to the head of the american government or any of its clowns in the region.
Altahawy carried that same analogy to compare the Egyptian government and the Syrian government. As expected, Egypt although a dictatorship, has a major role in the region and has structured its policy strategically for the greater good. Syria is just like Qatar, trying to piss off Egypt.
In very few sentences did Mona say anything about the people. What they want. how they think. Are they united or not, do the same things matter to them or not. These things clearly didn't mean anything to her, apparently because she didn't notice any uprising or support in favor of Gaza during the Israeli savage campaign. Basically, she didn't explain how the eguptians felt when their government took that shameful stand from the war, and as usual she downgraded the Islamic movement to a last resort, that people go to because of lack of options. Totally disregarding any value those parties might add and calling them "Nut Heads" in the process!!
One more nail in that lectures' coffin was the exclusion of 18 Arab nations and God knows how many muslim nations! Nothing about Palestinians, jordanians, iraqis, Sudanis, lebanese or the rest. and if you want to argue the small impact of these countries on politics, although it would be silly, how can she explain the absence of turkey in her hour or so of wisdom!?!
Promoting Saudi and Egypt, Bluntly denouncing Aljazeera and subtly denouncing Qatar and Syria. If you look at the political directions of these countries at the moment and the powers they are close to you start to wonder what agenda and purpose people like Mona Al Tawahy is serving?
She opened her speech stating that she intends to confuse her audience about their ideas of the Arabs and Muslims. One guy in the audience actually told her that she succeeded. But I think I was confused more than the whole crowd put toghether. It was the worst portray of the arabs I've seen in awhile, and sadly it came from an arab!!
For the video you can go to this link: http://www.ums.udel.edu/podcast/watch?c=198