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"It is the journey which makes up your life."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Oops, I hope ﺍﻠﻛﺘﺎﺐ* didn't just ruin Nader's political career.

Attention: To all students: Please contact home regarding the Dahab bombing, because many parents have been calling the New York office looking for information. Thank you. - AUC Student Housing Office

I have several posts in queue, waiting to be finished up and posted, but I think I should take a break from our regularly scheduled program to briefly comment on the latest Middle East drama, as per the recommendation of just about every formal body of authority hereabouts.

As a lot of you know, April 24th is my birthday, and I celebrated it heartily (or, not so much) by wading through godawful Arabic drills like the eternal classic fill-in-the-blank: ".ﺭﺍﻠﻒ ﻧﺎﺪﺮ >> ﺃﻣﺭﻴﻛﻲ ﻣﻦ ﺃﺼﻞ ﻋﺮﺒﻲ >>" ...Ralph Nader, American, (is) of (descended from) the Arabs.

It was fairly late in the evening when I received a text message from my friend, Keli. "Do we know anyone who is in Dahab now?" she asked. Ohoho, I thought, that zany Keli has gotten herself stranded somewhere in the Sinai again, but I didn't think I knew anyone there who could give her a lift. I texted her back a negative, and didn't give it a second thought.

The next day I awoke and stumbled sleepily to the bathroom, only to be confronted by a flier, imploring students to let their parents know where they were, as many parents were anxious about the recent bombing in... Dahab.

Life continued on, much as it had before; and, to my knowledge, though it was the end of Spring Break, and though many students had used their free week to travel to and through Dahab, no AUC students were actually in Dahab at the time of the explosions.

Less than 48 hours later, we were informed during a class lecture that yet more bombs had been detonated in the Sinai, and that there were unconfirmed rumors of a shooting or attempted shooting at a police checkpoint somewhere nearby.

I don't feel like I'm well-informed enough to really comment on the political situation involved in this, but I do have to say that having lived here as long as I have (not long, really) and having seen a few other parts of the Middle East (Jordan and Israel, both extremely briefly), I'm not terribly surprised at how much resentment some bear towards Westerners and Israelis. Israel, especially, is an inconvenient anomaly--a tiny pocket of non-Arabs (this was quite startling when we travelled through on our way to Jordan) and comparatively extreme wealth. It's like a little slice of America: the same paranoia (though, really, with more direct threat to them, probably theirs is more justified), the same shopping malls, the same vapid new age "Pure Moods" CDs. In fact, as I think Alycia put it, Israel is America's trust fund baby.

I suppose it could be envy that drives the few and the zealous to want to wreak destruction on us, but we certainly can't exonerate ourselves--little love is lost between the West and Arabs of any kind. In fact, for the most part we seem to treat them with little more than condescension and fear. Can we blame them then for feeling that we are undeserving of our little self-made molehill of superiority?

All violence thus far has occurred very far from ﺍﻠﻗﺎﻫﺮﺓ, al Qahira, Cairo. There should be no immediate danger for any of the students here, in spite of several class trips planned to assorted locales in the Sinai (Mt. Sinai, and two or three monasteries). We, as "tourists" are extremely well guarded, since our comings and goings and travels are carefully supervised by both the university and the heavily armed police escorts they send with us everywhere. I trust the Egyptians to do everything they can to keep us safe--not only do they depend on their good reputation with foreign tourists for the majority of their economy, but every time there is a bombing or any other sort of violence, the Egyptians seem to end up with the short end of the stick, racking up a much higher tally of dead and injured than anyone else for all that they receive the least press.

On another note, enjoy your air while you can. Thanks to our not-so-dear Presidente, you all back in the States may soon have to adapt to the most picturesque sorts of mists we enjoy here in Cairo. Environmental regulations exist for a reason. IMHO, they should be inviolable.

*ﺍﻠﻛﺘﺎﺐ (al Kitaab) means "The Book," aka The Arabic Textbook of Despair.


Blogger casalaria said...

For a second I thought Arabic had magically acquired the * as a letter, but then I realized that I was an idiot.

Hm... Don't think that I said that in particular about Israel, although I do remember making quite a few comments. That country is out of control.

10:18 AM

Blogger Kat said...

What are you talking about? Of course * is an Arabic letter. It's pronounced "EEEUUUUUUGGGGHHHHH". ;)

5:32 PM


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