(Egypt’s 1973 October War Panorama Museum — NY Times photo)
One of my biggest regrets during my post-college backpacking jaunt through Cairo was that the October 1973 War Panorama Museum was closed.
Like a kid stretching his neck over the fence at a shut-down amusement park, I stared through the iron grates at a sculpture garden decorated with Russian MiG fighter jets. I wanted to at least bring home a snowglobe from the gift shop, but the place was undergoing renovations.
This museum is a monumental tribute to Egypt’s “victory” in the 1973 October War (or Yom Kippur War if you’re willing to acknowledge the military value of surprise and meanness to attack on a religious holiday).
According to the Egypt State Information Service, the museum was inspired by President Hosni Mubarak’s 1983 trip to North Korea and is divided into four areas:
The Circular Hall: Highlights the achievements of the Egyptian Armed Forces in the period from 1967 to 1973.
Hall 2: In which the crossing of the Suez Canal is graphically shown.
Hall 3: Showcases the achievements of the various branches of the Army during the October War.
Hall 4: A library with a reading hall attached.
Now, thanks to The New York Times, I can see what one of the museum panoramic views looks like. Looks like a lot of Egyptian model railroaders were employed by the state in some kind of job stimulus package.
The Times also reports that many younger Egyptians are pissed about the 1979 Camp David Peace Accords. An entire generation grew up without shedding a drop of blood in the Sinai desert and they are pissed.
They saw a couple of war movies and well, it looks like a whole heck of fun!
From the Times:
â€œToday Egypt is not influential in anything,â€ said Osama Anwar Okasha, a leading Egyptian television writer. â€œIt is a third-class country in this region. Egypt was the leading country and it gave up this leading role. Now it is like a postman, delivering messages.â€
“The public mood is dark all around right now, and the sentiment points to the treaty as the start of Egyptâ€™s decline and diplomatic impotence.”
But the 81-year-old Mubarak, who has been eligible for his AARP membership for those same 30 years, is still alive and he remembers how unfun bleeding in the Sinai can be.
Yet, he’s also the guy who likes to build war museums. Even if his exhibits don’t tell the full story (memo to Mubarak: Israel won — even Wikipedia says so), I still want my October Panorama snowglobe.