Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CLX. A Country in Turmoil (2 of 7)

Gamal Abdel Nasser

Gamal was born in 1918 in Alexandria. At the age of 15, he took part in demonstrations against the royal family and the British occupier. Both were believed to be in cahoot and to defend each other interests. Egypt was not a British colony per se, the U.K. was there to safeguard its (partial) ownership in the Suez Canal.

Gamal joined the army, attended the Royal Military Academy, and graduated in 1938

More and more young Gamal was beginning to resent British interference in the affairs of Egypt. His position as an instructor in the Egyptian Army Staff College allowed him to spread his views among young officers.

Abdel Nasser fought in the 1948 war against Israel. There, he met officers who were willing to support his reforms concerning how Egypt should be governed. His anger knew no limits when he found himself fighting with defective weapons. The eventual defeat of the Arab armies by Israel strongly affected him. Indeed, the hope of a victory over Israel became an obsession that he was never able to shake.

More than anything else, an incident during the war shaped this legendary leader. He was stationed in Fallujah, a village located to the north of Gaza. His unit made a valiant effort to recapture some of the lost areas in the south; all in vain, for, militarily speaking, it was an impossibility. At that same time, many Egyptian army units discovered that they have been supplied with worthless weapons. They were, needless to say, shocked and demoralized.

And then, there was an incident that earned him the admiration of Israel. Despite being equipped with flawed weapons, Abdel Nasser and a few Egyptian soldiers stayed in Fallujah for weeks; and their resistance became the stuff of legends.

Fallujah stayed in Egyptian hands, but was eventually swapped for the small town of Beit Hanoun which, at the time was occupied by Israel.

The building in which Abdel Nasser and his unit stayed still stands in today’s Israel. It is surrounded by fences, and it constitute a surreal piece of living art.

Abdel Nasser twice lost to Israel: In 1956, and 1967. In 1967, he was assured by his supreme commander that the army was ready. We all know the utter disaster that ensued. The six-day war redrew the map of the Middle-East and introduced issues which, to this day, have not been resolved.

He died in 1970 at the young age of 52. He was felled by a heart attack. Some say that he died of a broken heart over the 1967 loss! That may be true, for, thereafter, he was never again the same vibrant leader.

Levi Eschkol, the Prime Minister of Israel, was never at ease with the 1967 war, even after it was won so decisively! He also died shortly thereafter. Israel is still dealing with the problems created by the occupied territories; therefore, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Eschkol also died of a broken heart! Presumably, he foresaw some of the consequences of the six-day war.

In the U.S. we can say that a president is popular; but to say that he is loved would be absurd, for after all we do not personally know the man. But, Gamal Abdel Nasser, was truly loved! The Egyptian people are so emotional that they can love a leader even they do not know him personally. Witnessing their grief at his funeral (which I watched on television) was truly heartbreaking. Their pain was palpable, for they knew that the like of him will never be seen again.

Mohammed Naguib

I cannot close this section without saying a word about Mohammed Naguib. His selection as the face of the revolution was a brilliant move. You truly felt safe with him. As well, he was such a lovable man you wanted to hug him! He often went through Cairo in an open car and waved at the crowd, and everywhere people were ecstatic. This was now their president, and everything was going to be right again in their world. If a president was even more loved than Gamal it was Mohammed.

It may seem like he was eventually summarily dismissed by the free officers, really used. But that would be an inaccurate conclusion. While he was put under house arrest (and I imagine eventually freed) he was always well treated. It should also be remembered that this was their (the free officers) revolution. Therefore, how could they be expected to hand it to an outsider?

Because my parents did not allow me to be in big crowds, I never saw Mohammed Naguib going through the streets of Cairo. But I saw him in newsreels, and heard many times on the radio his stirring speeches which were delivered in a mix of popular and classical Arabic.

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