Teror in Sinai

Journalism - Opinion Columns


I didn't sleep all night. Couldn't. I was hoping that silly little Egyptian hope that it was a propane cylinder.
I wanted, so bad, the picture to clear out.
I didn't sleep, I dozed off then woke up, hoping it all was some bad dream like that night of November 4th, 1995.
Peace, my peace, had been murdered.

Egypt's (security) blunder is nowhere less serious than Rabin's minders' blunder.
Why wasn't this calm Penisula of Sanity better guarded? Every fatality in this attack, every wounded anguished me.

No, this is not just another  attack. This one, of the 7th of October 2004, has similar meanings for me as the 11th of September has for the Americans.

As much as the World Trade Center, the commercial airliner and the Pentagon are symbols of this world for the Americans and a large part of the democratic, capitalistic world, for me and for tens of thousands of Israelis, if not more , Sinai symbolizes the possibility of something different.
A possibility that, among all the cesspools of blood and pain of the last few years, we could just get into our own cars, cross a border and find ourselves in a Middle East of regional cooperation, of sea and desert, of nonchalant Beduins, of benevolent, potheaded pensiveness, (and also) of a global tourism machinery that is only interested in peddling calm  to the tourist, at all costs.
Today's world doesn't resemble yesterday's.

Am I overreacting? Of course. One can be a green cynic, and say that terror is going to rescue Sinai from the plague of the multi-billionaire tourist industry, and will freeze the degradation, the pollution, the destruction and the worldwide trend of occluding nature and scenery from the have-nots.
It is not by accident that the no-man's-lands between the boundaries of hostile nations are the richest and the best-protected nature reserves of the world.

But the significations far exceed wacky green-ism.
A neutral nature is not preferable to people's lives.
I prefer Sinai polluted, alive and humanity-ridden, to a wondrous Sinai with no people and no peace.
Sinai is the epicenter of of our area's peace, the only place where all bonds of evil were untied for Jews and Arabs .
I hate wars and love humanity for being human. At any price. whoever planned and executed these attacks is a net hater of Man.

Warmongering morons.

Egypt's embarassment and the open cooperation (with the rescue efforts NDT) point to the fact that this could not have happened without a deep involvement on behalf of Egypt's military and security apparatus- there are just too many checkpoints in Sinai. The number of gateways is very restricted. There's only one bridge, one tunnel near Suez. Two places that are reached by ferry-boats.
Between these points of entry and the eastern shore -the tourist beach for the Israelis- there are more than ten checkpoints on the road.
Between the Hilton Taba hotel and the junction two kilometers down south, there are two of these checkpoints.
Hilton Taba is located between two border crossings, and thus should have been the most securized place in the world.

Last June I circumnavigated the Sinai peninsula on a yacht. After a few days of tough but stunning sailing between the Suez coral reefs and the Sinai coasts, we arrived at the Suez Canal.
All along the Canal, the Egyptian army was busy preparing crossing ramps. New asphalted roadways and brand new rafts were being laid along the banks. This didn't look right to me. What were these military preparations for? How is it that the huge investments (and profits) of Sinai's tourist industry are accompanied by a buildup towards a military option? The Suez canal brings (Egypt) billions of Dollars each year, the cultivation of cannabis and of opium (poppy) yields hundreds more millions, why should the Egyptians prepare for a military invasion of Sinai? Are the Egyptians gearing up for war? (Note: Sinai is demilitarized as per the Camp David peace agreements with Israel. Egypt is entitled to a lightly armed police force and some border guards infantry. No armor, no air except for the necessary UH's. A small Multinational Force of Observers including a US batallion is in place to enforce just that.)
It may not be "the Egyptians", but rather elements in Egypt's defense establishment.
Just as we have our own jingoistic fools, so do they. It is not certain their President or even his Defense Minister know what the Egyptian army has been doing along the Canal during the last year.

Nothing's random.

Whoever is behind the (terror) attacks are the forces that most want to murder the peace between Israel and Egypt, and bring about a frontal war. These may be Egyptian factors such as the Muslim Brotherhood, or any network that has ties with the army and the Egyptian security services. The date also owes nothing to chance: on October 6th, 1981, Saadat was assassinated by an Egyptian soldier.
On October 5th, 1985, a soldier murdered Israeli parents and children that were at play on the wonderful Ras-Burqa sand dune.
Nothing's random, this is a brutal warning to Mubarak, at our expense.

Should we keep going to Sinai? Don't go now. Let the hotel owners, the Egyptian tourism tycoons feel the heat. The economic damage is tremendous. A financial loss of a few billions will cause the Egyptians a jolt on the scale of what happened after the Luxor massacre in the eighties, an attack that stopped the Egyptian tourist industry cold and (in fact) caused it to shift it's weight towards the huge development of Sinai.

Sorry folks. Don't go to Sinai. Let the capitalists fight it out with the fundamentalists.
The capitalists are after the money, the fundamentalists go for the blood.
Until now, the partition was clear: inside the country we used to pay with blood, and abroad- with money.
In spite of all our love for the Peninsula, do yourself a favor and stay home, or someplace else, to think about it.
Do not pay, in any (of the above) currencies.
Even Sinai, the place I love most in the world, isn't worth it right now until the WTC bankers, the Pentagon and the Muslim Brotherhood do calm down a bit.
Sit back on the Dead Sea shore. In Turkey. Cyprus. Or Goa.