Ansari Haab’s apology and the transformation of normalization and normalizers | Opinion


Two days ago, in the daily column of Al-Ahram newspaper, Dr. “Osama Ansari Hab”, under the heading “Apology” followed by an exclamation point, wrote that he and others ” Justice” symbolizes the unimaginable. Over the course of about four decades, Egypt and the Arab world normalized news and culture with Israel. He said in a text message: “Today, with anger, indignation and pain, I pay attention to the crimes and atrocities that destroy humanity that have been and are still happening in Gaza… I want to say: I apologize for my low opinion of these actions. “Israelis exude a spirit of hatred, crime and racism. I apologize to the martyrs and every child in Gaza.” There was also a Palestinian woman and man. I apologize!

I wonder if it is just a coincidence that Dr. Haab published this article on the forty-sixth anniversary of the announcement of the formal normalization bill in the Arab world. What was the visit of the late President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem on November 19, 1977? But what I and others know is that the author of the “Apology” article published an article titled “Journalists and Normalization” in the same column on March 22 this year, opposing their Egyptian Syndicate Congress’s new decision to ban all forms of normalization. , and said in the text: “This decision is professionally, nationally and legally wrong.” … Going to Israel is the legal right of any citizen.

What I know, and no one else knows, is that the author of this article – even if we take it as a case study of a group of printers on the open front of journalism and political culture in Egypt since the 1970s – concluded Today, as the Zionist war of annihilation against the Palestinian people enters and the new phase of Palestinian Arab armed resistance enters its seventh week, these contradictions and contradictions deserve to be observed under the microscope. Here I will try to explore the lessons and lessons learned in this situation by our famous writers and researchers, with reference to the positions of others from the Pyramid Foundation itself, and using my testimony and practical experience some of the normalities in which it happened change.

From research on Zionist enemies to normalization

After the defeat in 1967, when preparations were made to “eliminate the effects of aggression” and avoid its root causes, such as ignorance of the enemy, under the “Nasser Doctrine,” named after the late president Gamal Abdel Nasser, The Center for Political and Strategic Studies was born in Pyramid in 1968 under the name: “Center for Palestine and Israel Studies” and was chaired by the late Professor Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine. daily. The center was born to study Zionism, Israeli society and the Palestinian question. Today, according to its website, it proudly houses 6 units and 3 research projects, but none appear to have been founded with its goals and purposes in mind. The number of central journal publications has now increased to 12. Only one of these issues addressed this issue, and its title was: “Israel Picks.” The last issue, Issue 286, was published in December 2019 and it continues to be published as a monthly magazine since 1995.

In 1977, some 9 years after the center was founded, Dr. Harb joined the center together with a group of young researchers, graduates of the School of Economics and Political Science, and soon some of them seemed to have normalized . , reversing their personal pasts and the beginnings of their research work. Although their previous affiliations included Nasserism, Arab Nationalism and Leftism, as well as their experience with the Egyptian state’s Socialist Youth Organization, founded in 1966, this did not prevent them from being arrested for joining the center a few years earlier. “Dr. Habu” is one of them. Arrested.

Between February and March 1997, at least three of the four most prominent researchers from this group of Center researchers were placed on the denunciation list of the Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate and were punished with “drawing attention” for violating its decision to boycott . Each of them.

. This was after the three of them, along with other writers and journalists from Al-Ahram newspaper and others, met or visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Cairo.

In the spring of 1998, when I moved within the Al-Ahram Foundation to the Arab Affairs Department of the daily newspaper, I witnessed firsthand the depth of the normalization breakthroughs brought about by the “Oslo” wave, with direct and indirect encouragement from the Palestinian Authority. I was immediately struck by how many of my colleagues in the department talked without embarrassment about visiting Israel, occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank, and of course getting approval and visas from the Zionist state. I have also been a witness and participant for many years to the almost daily struggle over the terminology used when editing newspaper news about Palestine and Israel.

A coup in the research center and the transformation of the seventies

During the nine years between 1968 and 1977, as large amounts of water flowed into the river, Egypt’s official views on Zionism and Israel changed, and with them the “Pyramid” and its center also changed. This would not happen if researchers, writers, intellectuals and the centers themselves had due independence from news organizations and state authorities. I can describe what happened, especially the “coup”, although Dr. Harb spoke about his career at the Center and “Pyramid” in a newspaper interview on August 6, 2021, and in his mention of ” “Camp David” actions and choices led to a state of outrage among Egyptian intellectuals… The authority of the late President Anwar Sadat: Yassin (Mr. Yassin, director of the center from 1975 to 1994) reorganized it “… and A lot of freedom is allowed to adapt positions and stay away from the idea of ​​boycott. For example, we hosted a number of Israeli left-wing writers and met and discussed with them.”

In fact, what happened is considered a “coup” by a center that in 1975 published “Encyclopedia of Zionist Concepts and Terminology: A Critical Perspective” by the late Dr. “Abdul Wahab Al-Mesiri” , who was responsible for the “unification of Zionist thought” from 1970 to the year of the encyclopedia’s publication. He told me – may God have mercy on him – how difficulties and obstacles began surrounding the launch of this encyclopedia, and how transformations, directives and new leadership began within the Pyramid and at its center. Therefore, he decided to start his own efforts, starting in 1983, away from the center and the “pyramid”, and began writing his largest encyclopedia, “Jews, Judaism and Zionism”. What happened in the mid-seventies – when Yassin took over the management of the center and changed its name – was the establishment of six research units, responsible for social and economic research, international relations, political institutions, Arab affairs and military affairs. Therefore, there is neither Palestine nor Zionism.

Dr.. Sami Mansour and the Independent Opposition Position

Here, I cannot help but point out that the late Dr. Sami Mansour was one of the victims of this “coup”. Maybe he deserves more to run the center. For reasons related to competence, research, integrity and scholarship, but also because he also comes from within the Pyramid, since the center was founded. I don’t think the marginalization of this position – until his departure in November 2015 – was due to his relationship with “Haikal” after “Sadat” became angry with him and dismissed him as chairman of “Pyramid” connect. ” in February 1974. This is because many people were affiliated with a “structure” that was less capable and competent than it. They later rose to leadership positions in the institution and the Egyptian state, and continued publishing. It is also worth noting that the Center The trio (the union recorded its normalization in the 1990s) also held leadership positions, unlike the generation of researchers who joined the center after the coup in the mid-1970s.

In fact, Dr. Mansour’s stance against normalization is well known. He was the one who took the initiative, serving as rapporteur of the Freedom Committee and member of the Council of Journalists’ Syndicate on the day of the opening and inauguration of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo – to submit a memorandum of recommendations to the Syndicate Council to resolve the incident through a professional boycott Influence, and protect anti-colonial culture, Zionist racism and its development. I have a scanned copy of this memorandum, which was published in the February 26, 1980 issue of Al-Shaab, the only remaining opposition newspaper at the time. All other Egyptian newspapers at the time, including Al-Ahram, abstained.

On November 17, 2015 and November 25, 2016, I had the opportunity to publish two articles in Al-Ahram about the death of “Dr. Mansour” and his first anniversary. At the end of the last article I pointed out Mansour’s initiative and in this way: “This position is the choice of a writer, intellectual and a special type of left-wing Nasserite who decided to maintain consistency.” With his thoughts and conscience, while the Camp David men who accompanied Sadat in the occupation of Jerusalem – began to tighten control over the media and research institutions and confiscate all dissenting opinions and information that (the president) did not like. Perhaps the cost of this choice helps us understand Sami Mansour, the man and the phenomenon.

“Schizophrenia” is a journalist

Considering that the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate initiated its historic decision to boycott and ban all forms of normalization, whether professional, personal or trade union, this brings about paradoxes and contradictions, as if we are facing a A schizophrenic state, but collective. On the one hand, those involved in the visit to Israel were elected to the union council. Here, “Dr. Habu” himself managed to be included in the list of the late captain “Ibrahim Nafi” in the 1999-2003 session, even though he was convicted of violating the union’s decision to ban normalization and caused his attention. Among other things, Nafi himself and the late Captain Makram Mohammed Ahmed visited occupied Jerusalem before being elected to lead the coalition, serving five terms each from 1985 to 2009. .

In short, today the Trade Union Council’s punitive measures for violations of the boycott decision do not reach the level of its text, nor the enthusiasm with which the normalization of the ban was emphasized at the General Assembly meetings before this year. Formalized union members rarely reach the point of being investigated, content to simply “get attention.” It is lower than disciplinary sanctions starting with a warning and ending with cancellation of membership. As for those who were investigated by the union, their penalties did not exceed a ban from the industry for less than one year, raising doubts about the perseverance of subsequent enforcement of penalties. Most importantly, the Journalists Syndicate’s decision to boycott – indeed considered a pioneer among Egypt’s professional unions in this regard – remains controversial and tense regarding its interpretation, definition and validity.

Return absent and forbidden terms

I can see comparisons to the first days of the war in Gaza and the unofficial progress in Egypt compared to an October 8 article on Al Jazeera’s Mubasher website titled “No less than a halt to normalization.” The legendary steadfastness and resistance of the Palestinian people. Unions – including journalists’ syndicates, as well as political parties and writers – soon gave up on their desire to avoid diverging too far from the national position. This has been going on for about a decade and comes amid the strongest wave of “demonization of Hamas” in Egypt. Therefore, there are clear calls not only for Egypt to withdraw its ambassador from Tel Aviv, but also for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Cairo. Instead, after a long absence, it renewed calls for “peace” deals with Israel to be put to a referendum to cancel or freeze them. Also recall the fact that most Egyptians never accepted this “peace”. Also because it was a choice made entirely by rulers, authorities and socio-political forces in a non-democratic context that did not allow the people to express their opinions and influence this choice through legal and peaceful means, and continues to do so today.

Now it is worth noting that over time, the “Aqsa Flood” and the ongoing genocidal war against Gaza have led to many political parties and trade unions and even state-owned newspapers (such as “Al-Ahram” as mentioned in the article two days ago , rather than “Dr. Hurr B” alone. After decades of deliberately obliterating, ignoring, and even banning the Zionist-Arab conflicts, these transformations rediscovered and clarified their truth. Who would have thought, for example, that for decades Later, headlines using words from the language would appear on the pages of Al-Ahram newspaper, such as: “Zionist entity”, describing it as a “terrorist” or even a “coward”? Even on the sports page, it Also appeared a few days ago. The title contained the words: “Team of the Zionist Entity.”

What happens when the guns fall silent?

But judging from the years of experience – during this period the unpopular and undemocratic “peace” in Egypt, the normalization with the “unnatural state”, and the acceptance and recognition of racist, terrorist doctrines (Zionism) Approving a “state” that cannot coexist makes it difficult to believe in the durability, stability and ability of these recent changes to influence official policy. This applies whether at the level of journalism, politics or general union discourse, or on the level of something like “Dr. Hubb”. Simply because the country, like other Arab societies, lacks effective democratic institutions and an interconnected tradition rooted in respect for citizens, their rights and choices, as well as a majority intellectual understanding of the nature of independence from authority and the importance of independence and autonomy . Their organizations exercise it. Furthermore, because normalization was accomplished over a period of approximately 46 years by influential economic, social and political forces and interests at the highest, most dangerous and most influential levels. This contrasts with the continued opposition to him by a majority of the Egyptian people as shown in successive opinion polls.

Regardless, the gesture remains “Apologise!” Dr. Osama Ansari Haab and others like him have their importance and influence, even if it’s too early to answer the question: Is this a real, Will comprehensive, productive review last long after the guns quiet down?

Perhaps the same question applies to the outcome of another apology one night, an article written by “Dr. Habu” delivered by the Secretary-General of Islam’s “Justice and Development” at a mass meeting in Casablanca. Morocco, “Abdul-Ilah Benkirane”, talks about the signing of the normalization agreement between his party government and Tel Aviv. December 10, 2020.

Indeed; will these newly announced positions hold up after the guns quiet down?


Mentioned here are Dr. “Abdel Moneim Saeed” and Dr. “Taha Abdel Aleem,” as well as “Dr. Osama Al-Ghazali Harb.” They all graduated from the Department of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University between 1969 and 1972. The Security Council issued decisions on these issues in 1997 to “draw attention” as a result of the normalization of relations.

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