Dear Egypt . . .

Dear Egypt,

Congratulations on your new day. “People power” swept away Hosni Mubarak’s 30 years of autocracy and repression.

You ousted the regime without jihad, without “martyrdom operations,” without immediately spiraling into a more volatile situation akin to places like Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, or Gaza. You pulled it off without the ethnic divisiveness commonly seen in the Mideast.

That was no small feat. Well done.

But now comes the hard part.

You have a build a new government.

Perhaps you’ll forge a true democracy, one that will respect and be respected by the religious and secular, men and women, wisened elders and energetic youth, minorities, the disadvantaged, etc. Democracy isn’t perfect, but — warts and all — it provides long term stability, accountability, freedom, and dignity. It’s the best option out there.

But you might not take that route.

A year from now, will your country’s government be a fractious, paralyzed group of squabbling parties? Will the army maintain some kind of veto power over the government? Will Islamists or outsiders hijack your revolution? And most importantly, will the institutions for healthy democracy  — for example, a non-rubber-stamp legislature, independent judiciary, free press — be taking root?

I can’t decide these things for you. It’s your country, your life.

So why am I writing this?

I live next door. I hope you and I can be good neighbors.

If not, well, there goes the neighborhood.

all the best,

Pesach Benson