Egyptian Government Lacks the Milk of Human Kindness

It is desperately sad to see the noble efforts of the Viva Palestina expedition turning sour in front of our eyes as the forces of darkness plot once again to derail humanitarian aid for Gaza.

Admittedly the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (joint organizers) are avoiding questions about whether or not they obtained clearance from Egypt for the route. This encourages speculation that convoy members were led up the garden path when they headed for Aqaba. The cost in time and expense (and lost pay, as many took time off work to make the trip) of having to re-trace their steps to Syrian, and divert to the port of Latakia, is an added burden they could have done without.

Funny that George Galloway apparently said nothing at the time about Egyptian Embassy correspondences on 10 November and again on10 December, which stipulated that the convoy must reach Gaza through the Egyptian port of El Arish, and simply pressed ahead in the knowledge that they would probably be blocked if an attempt was made to enter Egypt from Aqaba and through the port of Nuweiba.

Surely, he should have made Egypt’s ‘impossible’ conditions public and brought the issue to a head before setting out.

Galloway, for all his heroic initiatives and brilliant style, has a liking for brinkmanship and it has got him into trouble this time.

But Egypt’s latest demand that the convoy must reach Gaza by 3 January – that’s after insisting in their letter of 10 December that the aid should not arrive before the second week in January – is another piece of bloody-minded nonsense. What is the point of this confusion if not to thwart the whole enterprise?

Forcing the convoy to take ship and re-route down the East Mediterranean coast through the playground of Israel’s marauding gunboats is the sort of lunacy that could have dangerous consequences. Many here are predicting a Dignity-type attack on the ferries that Viva Palestina has been obliged to hire.

I suppose it is a fitting end to a rotten year… a year that began with promise and high hopes but turned out to be one of double-cross and despair. Freedom activist are complaining that all this bickering with Egypt has diverted attention from the main culprits, Israel and America. But other culprits lurk in the evil swamp and Egypt is one of them. It is no bad thing that the spotlight falls on their treacherous behaviour.

Egypt has responsibilities for keeping the Gaza border open under the AMA (Agreement on Movement and Access) treaty but hides behind a wobbly get-out clause, namely that Gaza is “Palestinian territory that is still under Israeli occupation… Under international law and the 4th Geneva Convention in particular, as the occupying power, Israel must ensure the basic needs of the inhabitants of the territory it occupies are met, such as electricity, water, fuel, food and medicine.”

So Egypt seeks to legitimise Israel’s illegal occupation by colluding with it, and recently has gone further. It is building an Iron Wall to create a hermetically sealed border against the besieged and starving Palestinians, a despicable act that reveals, apart from a cruel streak, an apparent lack of any sense of brotherhood or compassion.

No-one can accuse President Mubarak of being like Macbeth – “too full of the milk of human kindness”.

Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper, can be read on the internet by visiting Read other articles by Stuart, or visit Stuart's website.

13 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Ismail Zayid said on January 1st, 2010 at 12:16pm #

    The Egyptian government’s policy, in blocking the basic needs for the Palestinians in Gaza and building its iron wall of shame, is not only an expression of the lack of the milk of human kindness, but a clear demonstration of its submission to the orders of Tel Aviv and Washington.
    In conduting this policy, the Egyptian government is also bringing dishonour to the great people of Egypt.

  2. Parviz Mirbaghi said on January 1st, 2010 at 1:51pm #

    What I don’t understand is the silence among the so-called Arab leaders and the people in Arab nations who are definitely aware of the diabolical cruelty to which Palestinians are subjected and the Egyptian regime’s duplicity. It isn’t only the Egyptian Government that lacks the milk of human kindness, it seems CBC also lacks this basic human attribute…else the organization would have kept updated information of the plight of Palestinians and the problems faced by the international VIVA PALESTINA convoy.

  3. Danny Ray said on January 1st, 2010 at 2:26pm #

    Parviz, it will come as a shock to you, but the only people in the world who care about the palestinians are the western left. The Jordanians hate them with a passion, the Syrians ignore them, the Egyptians pay the Israelis to keep them in line and the Turks will not let them in Turkey.

  4. commoner3 said on January 1st, 2010 at 5:02pm #

    I sense a DELIBERATE attempt to embarrass and consequently to destabilize Egypt.!!
    Egypt has enough problems and doesn’t need or want extra one by confronting Israel and consequently the US which is the only super power in the world right now.
    Viva Palestina should works its problems with Israel and those who support Israel and not to drag Egypt needlessly into problems only Israel and Washington can solve.

  5. Deadbeat said on January 1st, 2010 at 7:02pm #

    I sense a DELIBERATE attempt to embarrass and consequently to destabilize Egypt.!!

    This is a very interesting perspective one that I hadn’t considered and would seem to following along with the excessive coverage that the “Left” is giving to the internal political squabbling in Iran right now. It my suspicions of the “Left” ring true, I think commoner3 has hit onto something that should be studied deeper.

  6. Charlie said on January 2nd, 2010 at 1:35am #

    Egyptians and the Egyptian government are two different things, so I think it’s dangerous to speak of “Egypt” as if it is a monolithic entity, with its citizens and its government uniform in their relationship with the US and Israel.

    The government of Egypt is largely a satellite office of the US government, with Mubarak’s brutal tactics against his own people tacitly endorsed and sanctioned by Washington. Open, public dissent is not tolerated in Egypt, as seen in the prison time given to Mubarak’s opponents and members of various dissident groups. As a result, I think the destabilization of Egypt that commoner3 senses results from internal discontent more than external interference. Ordinary Egyptian citizens are not as supportive of their government as the Western media would have us believe, and there are, I believe, undercurrents of at least a small rebellion there.

    The Egyptian government’s stance on Israel and the Palestinians will not change until that government more accurately reflects the will of its citizens.

  7. commoner3 said on January 2nd, 2010 at 5:48pm #

    Re: Charlie said on January 2nd, 2010 at 1:35am #


    I thought the main issue here is the plight of the Palestinian people in Gaza and not the internal politics of Egypt.
    You are diverting the discussion from the real Israeli oppression of Gaza and now you are harping and carping about what you call the “oppresion” of the Egyptian people by Mubarek.
    Yes, most Egyptians want justice for the Palestinians but in the mean time they don’t want confrontation with Israel and consequently the US. Most Egyptians understand very well that Israel has the full support of the United States and that the United States is the only super power in the world now!!
    If your REAL aim is to help the Palestinian people then talk to Israel and Washington instead of wasting your time and energ attacking the Egyptian government.

  8. Jeff White said on January 2nd, 2010 at 8:05pm #

    Not wanting confrontation with Israel is one thing; actively obstructing humanitarian assistance to Gaza in defiance of international law is quite another.

    In fact the latter places the government of Egypt squarely in the camp of the imperialist and Zionist exploiters of the Palestinians.

    That reality may be difficult to acknowledge for Mubarak’s apologists, but it is reality nonetheless.

  9. william nomates said on January 3rd, 2010 at 6:20am #

    danny ray has summed up the situation. the thugs of hamas are holding the gazans hostage for their own ends. if you can smuggle in high spec cars,tobacco and even even alcohol in to gaza then you can smuggle in food and “medical supplies”.
    hamas is also smuggling in rockets
    most,if not all the arab states know this so they don’t care.
    george galloway seeks publicity for his own ends and income.he doesn’t really care either but he makes a lot of money out of these trips from gullible liberals in the west.
    the arabs are not that stupid as the “left” in europe and the usa.

  10. Maryb said on January 3rd, 2010 at 6:50am #

    I have just heard from one of the volunteers in the convoy that the ferry is now half way to El Arish. Despite earlier threats from the Israeli Navy that they were on manoeuvres, ie keep well away os else we will sink you, as they tried to sink the Dignity when they thrice rammed it in December 2008 when it was in International waters.
    Piracy off the Promised Land: The Ramming of the Dignity with Clear Lethal Intent

    God speed to these brave humanitarians just showing some loving kindness to the besieged people in Gaza and to let them know that they are not alone.

  11. william nomates said on January 8th, 2010 at 4:04am #

    news from your friends,mary, at the BBC

    MP Galloway deported from Egypt
    British MP George Galloway has been deported from Egypt.

    The Bow and Bethnal Green MP has been in the Middle East with international activists trying to take 200 aid trucks into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

    Egypt had refused some of the vehicles access and there have been protests and clashes on the Egypt-Gaza border.

    A spokeswoman for the activists said Mr Galloway had been driven off by police after trying to return to Gaza to help colleagues who had been arrested.

    The incident began when Respect MP Mr Galloway and colleague Ron McKay arrived at the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt.

  12. Maryb said on January 8th, 2010 at 6:02am #

    Your post is a copy of one I put on this site @ 2.47AM. ??

  13. william nomates said on January 8th, 2010 at 7:16am #

    SORRY about that,mary. you are too quick for me with all your copying and pasting.
    have you seen this bit of good news???

    New anti-rocket system ready

    Iron Dome system, designed to intercept Qassam rockets, to be deployed later this year; Defense Minister Barak says system’s completion a significant milestone, tests’ success attests to capabilities of Israel’s defense industries
    Israeli success and good news for the south: The Iron Dome anti-rocket system successfully passed a number of comprehensive tests during the last two days, the defense establishment says.
    As a result of the system’s successful performance, officials have decided to deploy the system during the second half of the year.
    Personnel from the arms development department of the Defense Ministry and Rafael carried out an additional series of tests in the south, where the system had to cope, for the first time, with a number of rockets fired at the same time, including Katyusha and Qassam rockets, as well as 120 mm mortars.All rockets fired as part of the test were intercepted successfully by the new system.
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak said this was a significant milestone. “The success of the tests attests to the capabilities of Rafael and Israel’s defense industries,” he said, and expressed his admiration for all those involved in the development of the project.
    With the completion of the tests, the development stage of the system is over. According to the timetable, the system will soon be handed over to a special anti-aircraft brigade in the Air Force.
    ‘Unprecedented speed of development’
    A senior Air Force officer said to Ynet that anti-aircraft training schools are preparing to receive the system with a series of training exercises designed for the troops who will operate the system. According to the plan, the first battery will be operational by summer 2010. Military personnel have already been selected, including Lieutenant-Colonel Shabtai Ben Bukher, who will head the brigade, and Captain Maor Gabriel who will take command of the first battery.
    Iron Dome is designed to protect Israel from short range rockets and was developed as part of a multi-layer defense system that includes “Magic Wand” for intermediate range missiles and “Arrow” for long range missiles.
    Outgoing Defense Ministry Director-General Pinhas Bukhris noted that the completion of Iron Dome will change Israel’s political and security situation in the north and south.
    “The security establishment is committed to defending all Israeli residents from rockets and missiles. Israeli citizens should be grateful to the project team for this remarkable achievement – an Israeli technological development that took place at an unprecedented speed,” Bukhris said.