The “I hate Israel” song (catchpole’s wu) gives a surprisingly good pointer to more than one reason why Arab populations, in Egypt and elsewhere, hate Israel. Some of this is explicit, and mentions the blame attributed to Israel (often correctly) about what’s happening to the Palestinian people, and some other middle-eastern events. The implicit content is, however, more interesting:
I hate Israel… I love Hosni Mubarak because of his broad mind…
I don’t know what went through the mind of Ismail Khalil, the writer of this song, when he wrote praise for Egypt’s president (and elsewhere, praise of the foreign minister). Keeping in mind that the Egyptian president is the head of a government that has a peace agreement with Israel, I still think he wasn’t being cynical, but was simply protecting himself. In Egypt openly criticizing the government would generally lead to arrest, and Khalil didn’t feel like going to prison. Other civil rights aren’t exactly upheld in Egypt and the rest of the Arab world, either. If you’re an Islamic fundamentalist in a secular Arab state, if you’re a homosexual in any Arab state, if heaven forbid you’re a woman – odds are you have few rights if any. Most people in Egypt earn less than 400$ a month, and the center of Cairo is one of the most populated regions on earth. Are the governments blamed? Occasionally. Rarely. Everyone knows who’s to blame – Israel.
The “broad mind” of president Mubarak, that of president Assad, and many others, have caught on to a simple fact. People who feel bad need a person or group of people to hate, and Israel can easily play the role. This is not to say that Israeli policy is right, or that everyone outside Arab nations loves Israel. I’m simply stating that the interest of the oppressive Arab leadership in many of these countries is to encourage hate of Israel.