The Arab Spring has been a source of hope. Unfortunately, it has also been a source of hateful violence. Lately, I find that I keep thinking about Lara Logan, CBS war correspondent. She recently shared her horrific experience in Egypt with the world, an experience in sharp juxtaposition to what one would have expected in the midst of a mostly nonviolent revolution that commanded international attention and awe.
Ms. Logan was covering events in Tahrir Square on Feb. 11, as Hosni Mubarak was falling. In the exhilaration, she was separated from her crew and, then, was physically and sexually assaulted by some in the frenzied crowd. Fortunately, one group of Muslim women took action and protected Ms. Logan from further abuse and near certain death. The stark difference between the ugliness of her abusers and the promise of the nonviolent activists is maddening.
Ms. Logan’s experience has received significant media attention and rightly so, but why has there been little attention paid to the motivation behind the attack? In a time of hope and liberation, some of the men in Tahrir Square apparently chose to brutally attack Ms. Logan because they believed she was Israeli – and a Jew. Lara Logan is not Jewish, but that misses the point.
We understand why the media and public were outraged that a woman, a professional, a foreigner, and a journalist was attacked
But why wasn’t there also outrage that the frenzy was stoked by the mistaken belief that she is “a Jew”?
We should be careful about drawing broad inferences from this incident and applying them randomly to all involved in the Arab Spring. But we should also acknowledge that the Egyptian revolution includes an anti-Israel, anti-Jewish voice.
This is a time where we can have hope. But we must remain alert and battle religious intolerance at home and abroad, whether perpetrated against Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs,or people from any other religious (or non-believing) group. Hate based on religion destroys our humanity. It feeds a cycle of distrust and violence, and robs the world of the potential for peace. This should be a time of engagement and of efforts toward building real and durable peace, where all people are respected throughout the region.
Isn’t it time to stop focusing on division and hatred toward the “other"?