13/11/13A Border Passage5/7himself with dainties to the point of nausea and turning away from themonly to return with redoubled zeal after the effect of nausea is over.Precisely in the same manner will the world return to violence withrenewed zeal after the effect of disgust is worn out." Hiroshima and thegas chambers of Germany were not merely distant events without effecton Egyptian lives. Egyptian memoirs from that era record how theseevents indelibly marked the writer's consciousness. In our house they hada direct impact on my mother. She became a pacifist. She required mybrothers to take a solemn oath, which we were all summoned to witness,that they would never serve as combatants in any war. It was an oaththey kept. In the Suez conflict, when one of my brothers was drafted, heserved at the front as an ambulance driver.The final blow that would trigger the revolution in Egypt would comewith the founding of Israel, swiftly followed by Egypt's and the Arabs'defeat by Israel in the war of 1948. Egypt's defeat, profoundly galling tothe army, was rumored to have been caused by corruption at the highestlevels of the military establishment, members of which, it was said, incollusion with the king, had pocketed the funds intended for militarysupplies, procuring instead, and passing off on the army, cheap, defectiveequipment.The revolution of 1952 was planned in the aftermath of that defeat bya group of young, bright, capable army officers smarting from thehumiliation of a defeat suffered, they believed, entirely because of thecorruption of the establishment.One of these young officers was Gamal Abdel Nasser. Another wasAnwar al-Sadat.* * *Egyptians would take pride in the fact that Egypt's revolution was abloodless one. While other revolutions in the region—the Iraqi revolution,for example, which came soon after the Egyptian—would carve out abloody path, in Egypt the royal family was treated with civility. Thedeposed King Farouk even received a twenty-one-gun salute as hisyacht sailed out of his palace harbor in Alexandria to exile in Italy. I recallfollowing its progress across the horizon. Violence, Egyptians said withpride back then, was not the Egyptian way. Egyptians, they said, had atradition of abhorring violence. Even people who would eventually cometo hate Nasser and the Egyptian Revolution would give therevolutionaries credit for having honored this tradition of nonviolence.Following the revolution, the state took control of the media and set inmotion a propaganda machine that tirelessly disseminated its newmessage of socialism and anti-imperialism, and also of something quitenew to Egypt at the time, Arab nationalism.