Two Israelis in Cairo

In keeping with my vow to make use of my many abandoned drafts, here's a now somewhat stale tidbit.

Came across this welcome report of the warm reception given by an audience in Egypt to famous Israeli conductor. BBC NEWS | Middle East | Barenboim gets ovation in Cairo

In a rare performance by a prominent Israeli musician in Egypt, Daniel Barenboim has received a rapturous reception at the Cairo Opera House.

Mr Barenboim conducted the Cairo Symphony Orchestra playing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

The famed conductor and pianist has long strived to use music to bring people together in the region.

It is nice to see such signs of civility and popular (if one can describe the patrons of classical music thus) moderation. No doubt it helped that Barenboim happens to be a staunch critic of the Israeli government's treatment of the Palestinians and its reliance on ironfisted measures over diplomacy and dialogue.

Speaking of boycotts, I'm all for holding Israel (and any other nation with blood or injustice on its hands) politically and economically accountable  for their misdeeds, and I see no nothing wrong with popular boycotts and activism to support such efforts, but if those endeavors aren't grounded in an awareness of the fact that collective punishment is no less wrong for Israelis than for Palestinians they're likely to lose their bearings and degenerate into senseless, counterproductive agitation and posturing. Sure, a strong political message needs to be sent in situations like this–and in polarized times innocent people will occasionally be denied the benefit of the doubt they deserve because of their background–but if you're unable to see the humanity normal people on the other side of a conflict, you're probably not going to be very convincing advocate for the justice of your cause.

Now, whether an Israeli Prime Minister, much less Netanyahu, ought be received at all in Cairo–Mubarak invited him in April and he arrived for a brief visit a few weeks later–seems a far more complicated question. I'm not sure he or his government earned it, to put it mildly, especially as Gaza's ashes still smolder and as Israel continues to illegally and immorally impede reconstruction efforts 8 months after reducing the place to a burning slag heap. (Speaking of Gaza's suffering, Egypt's tacit but critical support for Israel's blockade during the Gaza offenseive didn't do it any credit in my view. I don't care how afraid Mubarak is of strengthening Hamas–as if anything Egypt could've done would've given it a hundredth of the political boost that the Israeli attacks did–the people of Gaza needed help.)

Still, Mubarak's gesture was a smart move, and anything that blurs the neat lines of the MSM's Manichean, peace-loving Israeli/war-mongering Arab narrative is probably a good thing.

Speaking of the immorality of indiscriminate collective punishment, the suffering that continues to be visited on Gaza and this ongoing tragedy's utter invisibility in American political debate on foreign affairs (such as it is) shows you just how near worthless our modern corporate media often are, for all the geography-defying technology and pretensions of round-the-clock coverage. Today, 8 months after one of the world's most powerful air forces ruthlessly bombarded a civilian population, Gazans aren't even allowed to import @#*(&@#$ chalk for their schools–not to the mention the obvious instances of "dual-use technology" items such as pots and pans, tents and basic medical supplies–yet the conflict is "over" as far as the MSM is concerned.


Gazans have been  reduced to pre-industrial life, eking out a harsh life in the shadows of their own bombed-out homes (e.g., see the picture of some of them breaking the fast recently) and actively and illegally prevented by Israel from rebuilding their lives–the UN report observes that the result of Israel's ever more inhumane blockade has been "a gradual process of de-development across all sectors, devastating livelihoods, increasing unemployment and resulting in increased aid dependency amongst the population"–but their suffering is utterly absent from discussions of the Middle East in the Beltway.

Don't limit your outrage to the politicians, though. The most serious "WMD" uncovered since 9/11 is surely the attention span of American journalists.

Update: For more info on the report and current situation, see Steve Lendman's post.

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