Historian Basheer Nafi is correct in suggesting that what is happening in Tunisia and now in Egypt, with ancillary tremors in Jordan, Yemen and elsewhere in the Mideast, is the second wave of the Arab liberation movement, this one toward democracy and human rights.
In the first wave, of course, Arab peoples liberated themselves from colonial powers only to be subjugated by homegrown domination, sometimes theocratic and sometimes military-led, with foreign influences lurking in the shadows, too often those of the U.S. as was infamously apparent in Iran with the fall of the Shah in 1979.
The response of the Obama administration, as well as the Republican leadership, to the second wave has been appropriate, especially considering that what has passed for an American Mideast policy has been an inchoate hodgepodge. Meanwhile, Israel's reaction of shock and alarm over developments in Egypt has been deeply disheartening, although not surprising in the least.
Israel's support for dead duck Hosni Mubarak is, of course, predicated on the fact that no other Middle East nation has a peace treaty with Egypt and the Egyptian president has supported its inhumane Gaza policy. But yet again Israel has squandered the moral high ground by preferring a tyrant to a democracy because it serves its bellicose self interests.
Its other self interests, of course, have included settlement building in the Occupied Territories, the Gaza blockade, an out-of-all-proportion commando raid on an aid flotilla . . . oh, and sandbagging Vice President Biden.
"American Has Lost It!," screamed one Israeli newspaper headline regarding the U.S.'s support for the second wave, which has tentatively scored its greatest success with a pledge that Mubarak will step down rather than run in yet another sham election, if he is not forced out before the election. But sadly, it is Israel that is lost.