Well, two women and a girl, really.
I want you to watch these three videos.
The first two especially appear to run counter to our preconceptions, or prejudices, which tell us that all Egyptians hate Jews.
I have no idea what these young women think of Israel or even Jews but I really don’t care. One thing for sure, it will be based on human rights and justice and not on deep-seated irrational hatred.
The first one shows and Egyptian activist Ibhama Abi Saif giving an interview direct from Tahrir Square in Cairo to Israel’s Channel 10 front man Guy Zohar.
Now, in any country, an interview with someone in Tahrir Square reporting their views on the Muslim Brotherhood with a backdrop of the square heaving with protestors would be normal.
But here we see a really charming Egyptian women, clearly religious SPEAKING PERFECT HEBREW.
The context of such an event is the ongoing demonisation of Jews, Zionists and Israelis in Egypt, which is so antisemitic that I, for one, did not see any headroom for such an interview.
Ibhama Abi Saif is polite, eloquent, charming and friendly, non-antagonistic. What’s going on? I had to check my own prejudices with this one. I really love this young woman.
Why am I so enthused by this interview? It gives us all hope. it shows us what the Middle East could look like if you take away the hate. It shows us what normalisation might look like.
Ibhama ends her interview with a most Jewish phrase ‘b’ezrat Hashem’ – with G-d’s help, a direct equivalent of ‘Inshallah’ Wonderful, inspiring and moving even though it’s just an interview.
Here’s a transcript.
Channel 10’s Guy Zohar interviews Egyptian journalist and activist Ibhama Abi Saif.
Egyptian journalist and political activist who agreed to speak with us in Hebrew directly from Tahrir Square.
Ibhama: Shalom Guy.
Guy: So what is going on behind you there?
Ibhama: As you can see, there are masses of people gathering against our regime in Egypt. They want to overthrow the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi for us is not just a president. He is in the service of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Guy: But he was elected in democratic elections.
Ibhama: I agree with you that there was a vote and the ballot box had their say. But every president, everywhere in the world, derives his legitimacy from the people. If the nation takes that right away from him. He cannot remain in power. We don’t want him anywhere. The masses are out in the streets demanding to over throw him. As far as I’m concerned, and from what I understand This is the epitome of democracy in any country.
Guy: But aren’t you concerned the military will abolish the democracy?
Ibhama: I am not afraid, and no Egyptian is afraid of its military. Our military is one with the nation. As our motto states. This is what we expect from our military. To stand with the people, and this is what is happening.
Guy: And what about the Muslim Brotherhood’s response?
Ibhama: I don’t think the Muslim Brotherhood is that dense or stupid. They know the military will not remain silent, that it will act with an iron fist against anyone who thinks he can hurt the people. We are not Syria and we will never be Syria.
Guy: I must ask you, aren’t you worried about speaking Hebrew in the middle of Tahrir Square?
Ibhama: I am not afraid to speak Hebrew in any place in Egypt, where we have people who know Hebrew. They ask me if I’m Egyptian or not, and I tell them that I am Egyptian and this is the language I learned and that I am implementing. I am not afraid at all and it is actually normal here. We have many people who speak several languages, and it’s cool.
Guy: Very nice. Is there something important for you to tell us Israelis?
Ibhama: Yes, of course. I see what is going on in Israel. I call, not just on Israelis but every nation which is not receiving the treatment it deserves from its government or its president, not to remain silent. If Bibi and Lapid are not doing their job, get rid of them, replace them with someone who will do what you want. If they made promises and didn’t keep them. Don’t stay silent. We were also promised many things and they didn’t make good, so we are now removing them. I believe the people will decide what it really wants. Onwards!
Guy: Ibhama Abi Saif, thank you very much. I hope you will continue to update us.
Ibhama: With the help of God. You’re welcome. Bye.
The second video is a report by a young Egyptian woman, Dalia Ziada telling the AJC website viewers not to believe or take at face value what they see reported from Egypt.
She begins ‘Dear friends’. In another video an ecstatic Dalia begins ‘Dear, dear, dear Agency friends’ soon after Mohamed Morsi is removed from power.
The report below is about the ‘massacre’ of 50 Muslim Brotherhood members by the Egyptian army. But all is not what it seems.
So, yet another charming young religious Egyptian woman, this time reporting (in perfect English) to a Jewish Human Rights organisation! Something she does regularly. She even met AJC folks at the AJC Global Forum! She reports frequently to the AJC from Cairo and she is in fear of her life for doing so. Incredible. Maybe the real Arab Spring will be led by women such as this. Inshallah!
The third I’m sure you are aware of – Malala – the bravest girl on the planet.
You can read her story with extracts of her speech at the UN General Assembly here.
And the full speech here on ‘Malala Day’.
See the some highlights below.
This is not the speech of a 16 year old girl. This is the speech of a great politician. This speech is close to the impact of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have A Dream’ speech (and she mentions him in her speech) in Washington 50 years ago, this is the speech of a future world leader. It is a most quotable speech and one that will live long in the memory. People will be watching the speech in a hundred years time.
This is a speech that can change the world – for the better. And it comes from a 16 year old Muslim girl from Pakistan.
Are these three videos the seed of something new, something exciting, something that can change our world and free us from mediaeval religious Fascism and moves toward toleration, acceptance and respect?
Maybe not in my lifetime, but I didn’t expect to see the end of the Soviet Union or the tearing down of the Berlin Wall either.
Empowering women, especially women in cultures that have always oppressed them or disrespected their rights, is what the rest of this century will be about.
Maybe it won’t be about a Jihad against the West but an uprising of strong, confident brave women who will change attitudes and lead us all to a brighter more hopeful future.
B’ezrat Hashem. Inshallah.