Since the beginning of Israel’s offensive in Gaza, much of the Egyptian media has laid the blame squarely on the Islamist terror group Hamas.
France24 (h/t Maria J) Some journalists have even said that all Palestinians are to blame for their current plight. Israel’s escalating attack on the Gaza Strip has triggered worldwide debate. Egypt is no exception. But there is little of the traditional Arab solidarity towards Palestinians to be found in the Egyptian media.
Adel Nehaman, a columnist for the Egyptian daily El-Watan, said bluntly: “Sorry Gazans, I cannot support you until you rid yourselves of Hamas.” Azza Sami, a writer for government daily Al-Ahram, went so far as to congratulate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Twitter: “Thank you Netanyahu, and God give us more men like you to destroy Hamas!”
Star presenter of the Al-Faraeen TV channel, Tawfik Okasha, an ardent supporter of Egypt’s military regime and known for his firm stance against the ousted Muslim Brotherhood, attacked the entire Palestinian population live on air.
“Gazans are not men,” he declared. “If they were men they would revolt against Hamas.” His broadcast was even picked up by Israeli TV to demonstrate Egyptian support for Israel.
Why the hatred of Hamas? The hostility of these journalists is part and parcel of the movement that saw democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi removed from power in a military coup in 2013. They are now applying the same logic behind the ouster of Morsi, who was the favored candidate of the now-censured Muslim Brotherhood, to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
In 2013, a significant chunk of the Egyptian media called for the Muslim Brotherhood’s “liquidation”. That same sentiment is now applauding Israel’s efforts to disarm Hamas, originally the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch. These Egyptian journalists link Hamas to ongoing violence in the Sinai Peninsula where in the last 12 months, armed Islamist groups have attacked Egyptian security forces on an almost daily basis.
Egypt’s current rulers insist that the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are behind these attacks. Much of Egypt’s media toes the government line. They see the neutralisation of Hamas as crucial to winning Egypt’s undeclared war in the Sinai Peninsula. They don’t hesitate to criticise Hamas and Palestinians generally, who they hold in contempt for failing to revolt against their Islamist leaders as Egyptians did in 2013.
Not all Egyptians are hostile to their besieged Arab neighbors. There have been demonstrations against Israel’s attack on Gaza in Cairo and Alexandria in recent days, but these only attracted a few thousand people at the most. Beyond this very small minority of pro-Palestinian militants, Egyptians are broadly unsympathetic to the plight of their Gazan neighbors.