I was about to meet a lebanese friend of mine in a park. When i got there, he was already sitting with a man that i have never seen before. I greeted them, and they returned my greeting. The following is my memory of the conversation i had with the stranger:
Stranger: You are an egyptian, right?
Ahmad: Yes. How did you know?
Stranger: I could tell from your accent. I am Mazen.
Ahmad: I am Ahmad. You are palestinian, right?
Stranger: Yes. How did you know?
Ahmad: Two-thirds of the arabs here are palestinians.
Stranger: Right, how is your friend Hosny Mubarak?
I was quite surprised by that question. It is not considered normal among arabs to open political discussions with strangers.
Ahmad: He’s okay, i guess…
Stranger: What do you think of him?
Ahmad: I disagree with much of his views.
Stranger: I hate him and the Egyptians. They are traitors. Our only friends are Hezbollah, Iran and Turkey. They came to our aid when the Egyptians were chickening out!
Ahmad: You are aware that the majority of the egyptians disagree with Mr. Mubarak for his handling of the war in Gaza?
Stranger: Disagree? Come on! How come he is still president then? If you really disagreed with him, he would no longer be president!
Ahmad: Removing him from the post would require nothing less than a revolution. The average Egyptian is working hard to put bread on the table, he is not…
Stranger: (interrupting me): I hope that when world war III begins, it will hit Egypt first of all. That is the reward you will collect for being such bastards!
Ahmad: May God forgive you! Are you aware what we have done for you!? We have waged wars for you! Our soldiers have died on the battlefield for you! Your case was the most important political one in Egypt for decades, and it still is! No nation have ever received as much sympathy from the Egyptians as you!
Stranger: That was the past! Now look! Hezbollah, Iran and Turkey help us while you aid our enemies! How can i respect a country that does that?
Ahmad: Actually that works very well for you, seeing as that Turkey recognized Israel and signed various agreements with it while we were waging war with them!
Stranger: Again, that was the past. Look at the present, we have…
Ahmad: (interrupting him): You cannot ignore the past because it explains why the present is as it is. Look at the time of Sadat – we had been waging 4 wars against israel at that time, two of them totally in vein! We fought those wars for a goal that we never achieved. At that time, the rest of the arab world had one concern: Themselves. That includes the palestinians. How then can you blame Mr. Sadat for claiming only Egypt as his responsibility?
Stranger: So you agree with Mubarak!?
Ahmad: If he had argued that we should not risk our lives for a nation that hates us, i would agree!
At that time, my lebanese friends grew tired of our discussion, and i was outraged because of the rudeness of this fellow! So my lebanese friend asked him to excuse us, and left with me.
Even though i said what i said in anger, i am still surprised that i found myself in a position where i defended Mr. Sadat for drifting Egypt away from the Arab cause and towards the Egyptian cause. I have always been supporting Gamal Abdel Nasser and his policies, and i have always despised Anwar el Sadat for ruining it by turning us away from it. Funny how i react to getting insulted.
Even though i feel that my opinions before the conversation are the same as after the conversation, i do feel a little more sympathy towards those who argue that Egypt should worry about Egypt only.