This isn’t a big story, but it has some interesting aspects.
In observance of International Women’s Day today, Michelle Obama and John Kerry will be recognizing 9 International Women of Courage, including — posthumously — the anonymous victim of the infamous Delhi rape.
There were to be ten honorees, but one of them, Samira Ibrahim of Egypt was caught sending several vicious tweets, one calling the terrorist bombing of a bus full of Israelis in Bulgaria “sweet news,” one quoting Hitler approvingly, and even one celebrating the anniversary of 9/11. When the State Department put her award on hold, she at first (unconvincingly) claimed her account had been hacked, and then said “I refuse to apologize to the Zionist lobby in America regarding my previous anti-Zionist statements under pressure from American government therefore they withdrew the award.”
Despite hating Jews and the United States, Ibrahim certainly was courageous. She was originally picked because she sued the Egyptian government when they performed a degrading “virginity test” on her after she was arrested for protesting in Tahrir Square, and forced them to end the ‘tests’. And of course, she is not afraid of the “Zionist lobby” either.
If we include Ibrahim, five out of the ten women selected are Muslims, possibly illustrating the importance the State Department attaches to establishing good relations with the people who, more than anyone else in the world, want to kill Jews and Americans.
But it is not surprising that — especially in Egypt — they had a hard time finding someone who did not share the common prejudices.
Let’s understand that Egypt, which has rendered itself almost entirely free of Jews (it’s estimated that there were less than 100 in 2004), is nevertheless a nation obsessed with hatred of Jews.
When non-Jewish journalist Lara Logan was swarmed and sexually attacked in Tahrir Square in 2011, the crowd shouted “Jew!” They also decorated pictures of Hosni Mubarak with the star of David. Egyptian TV often casts Jews as villains, and recently presented a series based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Hitler’s Mein Kampf, in Arabic, is a bestseller in Egyptian bookstores (I mentioned that one of Ibrahim’s tweets quoted Hitler).
It isn’t just Egypt. They would have had a hard time in the ‘advanced’ nation of Turkey, too:
A study by Turkey’s Hrant Dink Foundation has found that Jews have become the main object of hate speech in the country, followed by Armenians, Christians, and Greeks.
I bet it would have been much easier to find a courageous Israeli woman, perhaps one who lives in the southern part of Israel and who has been subjected to rocket bombardments day after day and year after year, who doesn’t hate Arabs, Egyptians or Turks. But that wouldn’t help the message, which is that the US is a friend to the oppressed; and by definition an Israeli can’t be oppressed, she can only be an oppressor.
One more interesting connection: The New York Times blogger Robert Mackey, known for his anti-Zionist take, asked Samuel Tadros, who originally broke the Ibrahim story, whether he was a Coptic Christian and if this could have influenced his reporting.
The mind boggles. If a Coptic academic sees and translates a Jew-hating or anti-American tweet, is his reporting thereof invalid? Is everything now ethnically relative?