Between the Lines

The Man Behind the Protests

By now we’ve all heard a number of analyses of the events in Egypt and the outbreak of revolutionary fervor that is toppling regimes throughout the Arab world: It’s a replay of the revolution that overthrew the shah of Iran and installed the Ayatollah Khomeini (say the neocons); it’s all a sinister plot to install a Muslim “caliphate” and institute sharia—and socialism—throughout the world (Glenn Beck, off his meds again); and even that it’s a replay of the revolutions of 1848, as Cato Institute analyst Leon Hadar would have it, a time of turmoil in which “the demise of Europe’s ruling elites—the traditional protectors of the Jews—was at the core of the great tragedy of European Jews in the modern times.”

In reality, the seismic eruption now shaking the Middle East has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood, the ayatollahs of Iran, or—believe it or not—the Jews of Europe or anywhere else.  It’s all about Mohamed Bouazizi.

Let me explain.

The spark that ignited this fire was set by a 26-year-old vegetable vendor who peddled his wares in the marketplace of Sidi Bouzid, a small town in central Tunisia.  His father had died when he was ten, and at the age of nineteen he quit school and became the main provider for his family of five younger siblings.  He tried to join the army, without success; he attempted...

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