Sunday, June 6, 2010
(by Carlos Latuff)
Seeing the reaction of the Arab "masses" so far to the Turkish effort to break the siege of Gaza reminds me of the following joke. It was very popular in Cairo when I was a student there.
Nasser, who was the master of blah, blah, blah, was the president then. He would make fiery speeches that would last for hours and the "masses" throughout the Arab world loved those speeches. When it came to a real test, the military of his regime and of two other Arab regimes were routed in a few days, 43 years ago this week. I know, I was in Gaza then.
Anyway, one of Nasser's accomplishments was to get the Soviet Union to build the Aswan High Dam. That was a major project which took years and gave Nasser and Egypt a lot of pride.
There used to be a very popular song in Egypt at the time and the chorus line was, "...we said we would build the High Dam and now we are building the High Dam." ('Oulna 'hanibni wa da'hna binibni essad el-'aali!)
During the engineering phase, a Soviet journalist heard that Egyptian engineers were playing a key role in the design effort, so he wanted to interview them. He flew to Cairo and went to the headquarters of the design team. It was a high rise building in downtown Cairo.
He asked about the Egyptian design team because he wanted to interview them. He was told to go upstairs. He went up one floor, but he found Soviet engineers, speaking Russian, busy with their engineering drawings.
He asked again about the Egyptian team, and again was told to go upstairs. He went up another floor and found a group of engineers from the former East Germany, Poland and some other Warsaw Pact countries.
This kept going on and he kept going up one floor at a time.
He was getting frustrated and at the top floor he angrily asked, "where is the Egyptian team? I want to talk to them!"
He was told, "you are almost there; just go up one more time!"
There, on the roof, a group of Egyptians with drums and other musical instruments were playing their instruments and singing, "..we said we would build the High Dam and now we are building the High Dam."
That was the Egyptian team!