Israel’s minor annoyance over an influx of pro-Palestinian activists in the so-called Flytilla rates a great deal more attention than it deserves from the liberal media, for example, this tongue-clicking, finger-wagging item from the New York Times’ “The Lede” blog. It used to be that the body of a dead Palestinian kid (almost certain shot by Palestinians in crossfire) was the poster for Palestinian activism. All the flotilla folks have is a video of an Israeli officer bonking a blond boy in the face with his rifle; the boy falls, gets up, and walks away with a hurt look. “Israeli soldiers brutally attack Palestinian activists,” reads the super-imposed title on the video.
It can’t be good to be a pro-Palestinian activist these days. No one has time to worry about the Palestinians. Bashar al-Assad continues to slaughter his own people — nearly 10,000 over the past year — and the Muslim Brotherhood leaders of the Syrian opposition undoubtedly would slaughter Assad’s Alawite coreligionists were they to take power. There are at least 2,000 dead and 22,000 injured in little Yemen during the past two years. All of this pales next to what is likely to come in Egypt, as the military and the Islamists fight for power.
I have argued in this space and elsewhere for the past year that Egypt’s economy is headed for breakdown, and that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is incapable of ruling Egypt because it is a hopelessly feckless gang of kleptocrats. This analysis is now becoming conventional wisdom. Today, for example, Jacques Neriah writes for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs that “the current situation has been created by the inability of SCAF to rule Egypt since the end of the Mubarak regime.”
The Muslim Brotherhood is in the position of the Bolsheviks in October 1917, taking power at street level by creating popular committees to “combat speculators,” that is, ration food and fuel. No one should underestimate the Muslim Brotherhood. It withstood sixty years of persecution by successive military regimes. And it understands Egypt’s predicament far better than the Western conservatives who saw the Arab Spring as the harbinger of democracy in the region. The Brotherhood, on the contrary, knows that Islam is fragile, that the Muslim world is fighting a desperate rearguard battle for its existence against the encroachment of Western culture and economic globalization, and that time is running out.