http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/07/05/156270.html

Suppose every time I go out of my house I find a man standing next to my car and the moment he sees me, he shouts, “Whore!” then runs away. The first time, I wouldn’t pay attention at all. I might even forget the incident the moment I turn on the radio and listen to the morning news while on my way to wherever I am going.

The second time, I would be a bit surprised and think about it for a few minutes then get distracted by the first traffic jam and start wondering when on earth would I stop spending half my life trying to go somewhere.

The third time, I would start wondering if this is actually the same man who called me that yesterday and the day before yesterday and when I realize it is him, I would start thinking that something must be the matter. This cannot be a coincidence. The man must hold some real grudge against me and this is the only way he can vent out his anger at something I possibly did in the past and which, unlike me, he cannot obviously get over.

I will, therefore, be left with one of two options. I can totally ignore the whole issue and say to myself, “I don’t give a damn what names he calls me. Let him rot in hell!” or I can start investigating the issue and try to understand why I am being called names that I generally assumed did not apply to me. The first option looks much easier because a word told to me every morning won’t kill me and by time it will lose the shocking impact it had in the first couple of times and because I will always treat this word as a groundless accusation that can never make me lose my self-confidence or have doubts about whether or not I am a good person. This makes sense of course, but if I opt for this, there is one question I need to ask myself: Am I sure that it would stop at “whore”? Seeing that I am treating him as thin air, wouldn’t he start to take a different course of action whether to grab my attention or to get back at me for whatever wrong I had done him and also for insisting to ignore him? As for the second option, it is indeed more of a hassle, but at the end of the day I find it much fairer for both of us: I deserve to know what is it about me that provokes the man that much even though I am sure he is mistaken in his perception of me and he deserves to have his grievance heard even though I have a very strong objection to the way he voices it. If one day instead of getting into the car and turning on the radio, I stopped and asked him why he is doing this, I might either realize that I had in one way or another done that man some wrong and need to redress it or there may be some kind of misunderstanding that I can clear so the man can stop wasting his time with me and can go look for the real “whore” he is after.

The Egyptian government has so far chosen to go for the first option when, after the third time the pipeline that transmits natural gas to Israel was blown up, phrases like “act of sabotage” are still being used and the priority is still getting hold of who did it. Even though I agree that the action itself is indeed a criminal offence and that the culprits have to be penalized accordingly, I am astounded by how the crux of the matter is totally overlooked and how targeting this pipeline in particular is treated like setting tires on fire or blocking highways. When in several protests police vehicles were burnt, it was very obvious that this was not simply an act of vandalism but rather an expression of extreme indignation at the Ministry of Interior and the countless abuses in which it has been involved for decades. Does it make any sense then that destroying a pipeline that takes Egyptian gas to Israel is not seen in the same light?

Despite the necessity of bringing to justice those who did that—they are apparently the same people who did the first and second times since the exact same methods were used in the detonation—I am sorry to say that we need to focus on a much more crucial issue: why they did that. Of course the answer is known, but ways of addressing it are not.

Calls for halting the export of natural gas to Israel are not new and reports that Egypt was selling for a ridiculously low price such a substantial source of energy at the time when millions are living without electricity and specifically to what the majority of Egyptians looks upon as an enemy state only “added more water to the mud” as the Egyptian saying goes. Now, it’s getting much muddier than ever because the regime that was accused of selling the whole country, not only gas, is no longer around and a revolution whose main objective was restoring the dignity of Egyptians is expected to take a decisive action towards that end. Taking an action does not mean the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces should plant a couple of dynamite sticks in the pipeline or the minister of foreign affairs should shut down the Israeli embassy in Cairo. It rather means giving more time and effort to tackling the reasons that might have led to consecutive attempts at destroying the line and to realizing that it is not only about money and diplomatic ties and that we are supposed to be starting an era where priority is to what the people want.

People want to no longer feel they are betraying their Palestinian brethren; this terrible feeling that had gnawed at their hearts every time the border was closed to the 1.5 million trapped in Gaza and every time they heard reports that it was with Egypt’s blessing that the 2008-2009 brutal Israeli aggression was carried. They have had enough guilt trips every time they see the Israeli flag fluttering in the skies of Cairo and have always tried to convince themselves—and may I add failed to do so—that the peace treaty was for the best and that these are things whose magnitude ignorant people like us cannot grasp. Yet, to gladly and cheaply provide Israel with something of which both Egyptians and Palestinians are deprived—who is more entitled to those billions of cubic meters of gas?—is seen as an outrageous violation not only of the rights of Egyptian citizens but also of the Palestinian cause of which they are staunch supporters, and ignoring the angry reaction that had lasted for years was just another of the regime’s assertions that the people are its last priority.

Now, things are supposed to take a different course and the fact that they are not is what triggers those acts of “sabotage.” Whoever did that do not belong to thugs that looted stores when the police withdrew or to Mubarak supporters who want to scare protestors away from Tahrir Square when they were still hopeful the revolution would bear no fruit. Those who ventured into the bumpy desert roads to make Israel sure doesn’t receive the 45 percent of its gas needs Egypt provides it with is making a very clear and unmistakable statement and sending a warning that the prevalence of justice is not just about court hearings and constitution drafts.

The perpetrators of what I would like to call “a political operation” might eventually be identified and they will be arrested and interrogated then brought to court and may be later put in jail. Fine, but will that—and I mean that only—really solve the problem whether in the sense that the pipeline will be safe forever or that the entire population will end up offering gas home delivery service across the border?

Forgot to mention a third way of dealing with the man who crowned me as a “whore.” I can call the police, tell them he’s been stalking me for a while and have him arrested and make sure I never see his face again. But will I, or the police, guarantee that he won’t come back with vengeance and make sure I listen to that grievance I had previously ignored—except this time it may be by force and with chances at a real reconciliation almost non-existent?