Saturday, February 5, 2011

Roots of the Latest Egyptian Upheaval: The Vanishing Mediator; and/or, Letting My People Go

Deconstruct this slogan:

"Christians, Muslims, we are all Egyptians!"

Does this innocent-sounding cry of solidarity, brotherhood (and, one presumes, sisterhood) not belie its own stated good intentions--implicitly drawing on the crucial absence of a third term? Literally the "vanishing mediator" of this jolly get-together are Egypt's missing Jews.

In other words, if it is impossible to imagine the shout "Christians, Muslims, & Jews--we are all Egyptians," then anti-Semitism, and the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Egypt in the 1950s, is not merely incidental to today's events, but constitutive: it is the precondition for the thinkability of the anti-Mubarak "movement." Foundational to the social-formation of this conjunctural revolt, the missing Jew is its very conrnerstone.

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