This article was first published at Huffington Post, where
the paragraph on Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions twice was
edited out twice without the author's approval.
Incidentally, the Newspaper Guild of America has just
called on its 26,000 members to back the boycott of HuffPo
MondoWeiss published the full letter; below
I Wish You Egypt: An open letter to people of conscience
in the West
by OMAR BARGHOUTI on MARCH 23, 2011
I wish you Egypt!
I wish you empowerment to resist; to fight for social and
economic justice; to win your real freedom and equal
I wish you the will and skill to break out of your
carefully concealed prison walls. See, in our part of the
world, prison walls and thick inviolable doors are all too
overt, obvious, over-bearing, choking; this is why we
remain restive, rebellious, agitated, and always in
preparation for our day of freedom, of light, when we
gather a critical mass of people power enough to cross all
the hitherto categorical red lines. We can then smash the
thick, cold ugly, rusty chains that have incarcerated our
minds and bodies for all our lives like the overpowering
stench of a rotting corpse in our claustrophobic prison
Your prison cells, however, are quite different. The walls
are well hidden lest they evoke your will to resist. There
is no door to your prison cell -- you may roam about
"freely," never recognizing the much larger prison you are
still confined to.
I wish you Egypt so you can decolonize your minds, for
only then can you envision real liberty, real justice,
real equality, and real dignity.
I wish you Egypt so you can tear apart the sheet with the
multiple-choice question, "what do you want?", for all the
answers you are given are dead wrong. Your only choice
there seems to be between evil and a lesser one.
I wish you Egypt so you can, like the Tunisians, the
Egyptians, the Libyans, the Bahrainis, the Yemenis, and
certainly the Palestinians, shout "No! We do not want to
select the least wrong answer. We want another choice
altogether that is not on your damned list." Given the
choice between slavery and death, we unequivocally opt for
freedom and dignified life -- no slavery, and no death.
I wish you Egypt so you can collectively, democratically,
and responsibly re-build your societies; to reset the
rules so as to serve the people, not savage capital and
its banking arm; to end racism and all sorts of
discrimination; to look after and be in harmony with the
environment; to cut wars and war crimes, not jobs,
benefits and public services; to invest in education and
healthcare, not in fossil fuel and weapons research; to
overthrow the repressive, tyrannical rule of
multinationals; and to get the hell out of Afghanistan,
Iraq, and everywhere else where under the guise of
"spreading democracy" your self-righteous crusades have
spread social and cultural disintegration, abject poverty
and utter hopelessness.
I wish you Egypt so you can fulfill your countries' legal
and moral obligations to help rebuild the ravished,
de-developed economies and societies of your former -- or
current -- colonies, so that their young men can find
their own homelands viable, livable and lovable again,
instead of risking death -- or worse -- on the high seas
to reach your mirage-washed shores, giving up loved ones
and a place they once called home. You see, they're "here"
because you were there... and we all know what you did
I wish you Egypt so you can rekindle the spirit of the
South African anti-apartheid struggle by holding Israel
accountable to international law and universal principles
of human rights, by adopting boycott, divestment and
sanctions, called for by anoverwhelming majority in
Palestinian civil society. There is no more effective,
non-violent way to end Israel's occupation, racial
discrimination and decades-old denial of the UN-sanctioned
right of Palestinian refugees to return.
Our oppression and yours are deeply interrelated and
intertwined -- it is never a zero-sum game! Our joint
struggle for universal rights and freedoms is not merely a
self gratifying slogan that we raise; rather, it is a
fight for true emancipation and self determination, an
idea whose time has vociferously arrived.
After Egypt, it is our time. It is time for Palestinian
freedom and justice. It is time for all the people of this
world, particularly the most exploited and downtrodden, to
reassert our common humanity and reclaim control over our
I wish you Egypt!
Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights activist,
former resident of Egypt, and author of Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions (BDS): The Global Struggle for
Palestinian Rights (Haymarket Books, 2011)
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