Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Egyptian

We in the Jewish world are all debating the pullout from Gaza. A ghastly mistake for Israel? A first step to peace? What will this mean for Sharon? What will this mean for Israel? What will this mean for the Palestinians? For Hamas? For The West?

Hey, there’s way more than two sides to any story (at least in the Middle East) and in a curious way the Egyptian side of the tale is being ignored. The Egyptian government has been fighting Islamic terrorists for years. Terrorists have struck with devastating results, both in carnage and in damage to Egypt’s Tourism industry.

But for me, Egypt's problems took a personal twist when, in July 2005, just two months ago, the new Egyptian ambassador to Iraq was kidnapped and killed. The news was posted on Al Jazeera. The murder was a slap in the face to Mubarak’s regime, but it was a sad moment for those of us who knew Ihab al-Sheriff as a friend. He represented Cairo in Israel before being posted to the "new" Iraq. He was an intelligent, creative man, and an avid and talented photographer. He made many friends in Israel. I was one of them. His death was a shock to those of us who thought there was nothing left that could shock us.

Once, in his Tel Aviv office I took note of a lava lamp standing on his desk. He laughed, thinking that I thought of Egyptians as militaristic and had mistaken it for a model of an Egyptian missile. Two days later a limo from the Egyptian Embassy turned up at my home delivering the lava lamp as a present from Ihab, and presumably from the people of Egypt.

lava lamp

On a number of occasions I had argued with Ihab about the threat of the Islamic Terrorists and he lectured me about the dangers of "the Occupation," neither of us dreaming that the debate would eventually end with one of us paying the price.
Ihab took many photographs in Israel and confided to me that some day, when he retired from government service, he wanted to publish a book of photos entitled Israel through the Eyes of an Egyptian.

Then later, in the same month that Ihab was murdered, the Islamic terrorists carried out a successful attack on Egypt's Sinai resort hotels.

Now the terrorists in Gaza have a border with Egypt that is neither guarded by Israeli troops nor blocked by Israeli Settlements . . . and I just began to wonder what that means to President Mubarak and to the future of a secular Egypt.

In the Dry Bones cartoon I drew the face of Mubarak, but the Egyptian I was thinking of was my friend Dr. Ihab al-Sheriff.

My fiend Ihab

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Forget It (1999)

The above 1999 cartoon showed the public worrying (sort of) about the possible dangers of cell phone use. The fact is that Israelis were quick to buy into the cell phone revolution, and in amazingly large numbers. These days in Israel everyone has a mobile phone, including (incredibly) children. A 2004 study in Israel, published in the International Journal of Cancer Prevention, found an increased risk of women developing cancer was 10 times higher if they lived close to mobile phone antennas. For years I wouldn't have a microwave oven in my home. Now I, and all my friends and neighbors, walk around while pressing microwave-generating mobile phones to our heads.The reason that we don't worry? Simple!
And as soon as I remember what it is, I'll let you know.

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Hot Potato

After 38 years, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. We dropped what had become a hot potato. The political, social, and deadly cost of trying to protect 8,000 Israelis living in small communities on the edge of the out-of-control and massively overpopulating terror click herehomeland of Gaza was just too much. After the divisive splitting of the entire country into pro-pullout and anti-pullout factions our army moved in to evict our people from their homes and villages. The scenes of tearful soldiers helping the folks they’d been sent to evict was more painful than we had expected. Click to see an album of snapshots.

I’d used the Gaza As Hot Potato image in cartoons before. The Dry Bones cartoon to the right is from February 2004. I'd always pictured the release as bringing instant relief (like dropping a hot potato). So the shock was that "letting go" was so painful, and that is the subject of today's "The Pain Is Plain" cartoon. Looking at last year's 'toon is a reminder that, in cartooning, as with anything in life, "hindsight is 20-20."
Just compare the last panel in the two cartoons.

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