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Maikel Nabil Sanad

Irwin Cotler


by Rhonda Spivak, October 26, 2012

Several months ago, I wrote an article about Egyptian blogger, a secular Democrat, Maikel Nabil Sanad who was charged with "insulting the Egyptian military". Sanad, whose international legal counsel was Irwin Cotler, became one of the early liberal pro-democracy voices in Tahrir Square and became the first political prisoner in the post-Mubarak era for exercising his rights to free speech. (That article can be accessed by clicking here:'s_military_in_post-Mubarak_era_has_put_more_civilians_on_sham_trials_than_in_all_of_Mubarak's_rule ).

Sanad, who spent 10 months in Egyptian prisons last year (including 130 days on hunger strike) because of defending human rights, and is now out of prison and has written an article on his blog on the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979, which gives insight into the Egyptian perspective on the treaty. He characterizes the peace treaty from the Egyptian point of view as a "cease-fire," indicating that Egyptians hope to one day eliminate Israel.
"After some Egyptian military officers killed the former president Mohammed Anwar Al-Sadat in 1981, Egyptian Authorities don’t consider 1979’s treaty as a peace treaty any more. For them, it’s a seize-fire [cease-fire] deal. Al-Sadat wanted a real peace, but they don’t. They are still dreaming in making revenge for their successive lo[s]ses in previous wars against Israel.”

Sanad continues: "After 33 years of the peace treaty, Israel still doesn’t exist on official Egyptian maps. When young Egyptian students study geography, they find only Palestine on their State-Printed books. Well, Israelis don’t exist. Or at least don’t have the right to exist!"
"Egypt also ha[s]n’t canceled a law [that] was made before the peace treaty which criminaliz[ed] Zionism, and punish[ed] any Egyptian Zionist by removing his citizenship. Mubarak, who was called “A friend of Israel” by lots of Israeli leaders, was in power for 3 decades, and never tried to drop this law. And when revolutionaries invaded State Security Investigation offices in February 2011, they found a department there under the name of “Countering Zionism”. The funny thing is that Egyptian authorities never made a definition of Zionism. So, calling for peace could be a crime if the authorities wanted, just as they banned “Jehovah’s Witness” in Egypt for their support to [of] peace and co-existence."
"For Egyptian Authorities, It’s just a piece of Paper. They are still training young officers that Israel is their only enemy, and forcing young recruits to say every day that “Jews are enemies of Allah”. Egypt hasn’t opened an Academic center in Israel according to the treaty. Egyptians have to take [obtain] permission from “The Egyptian Military Intelligence” if they wanted to visit Israel. State syndicates still refuse any kind of normalization with Israel. The State-Owned media still run the Anti-Israel propaganda. It was an ex-military officer (not a revolutionary) who said in 2010 that Israel send sharks to Sharm El-Shikh to attack tourists and tourism.  Egyptian Intelligence agencies target Egyptian peace activists and call them Israeli spies, exactly like what they did to me. Never [mind] mention[ing] facilitating invading the Israeli Embassy, and terrorist attacks on Israeli borders."
Further, in a recent article published in the Times of Israel, which is worth reading in full, Sanad also confirms that 80,000 Egyptian Jews were expelled from Egypt between 1952-54. As he writes:

"After the Egyptian military took power in the country 1952, it started its campaign against Egyptian Jews, launching its propaganda against Jews in all the state-owned media. It freed all the terrorists who had committed violence against Jews before the coup, and jailed liberals and seculars instead. It encouraged aggression toward the Egyptian Jewish minority, which led to new terrorist attacks against Jewish individuals and properties in Egypt. Between 1954 and 1956, 80,000 Egyptian Jews were expelled from Egypt, but not before they were robbed of their property. After that, Egypt revoked their citizenship, forbidding them from returning to their homeland. Of course, before they left, Egyptian authorities forced them to sign papers saying that they had been treated fairly and were leaving of their own will. There are currently around 300 Jews living in Egypt, isolated in an environment that is hostile to them."

Sanad indicates that once the Egyptian military expelled Jews and outlawed Bahais and Shias, they started their campaign against Christians (known as Copts).
"Violent attacks against Christians became increasingly frequent, and most of the time no one was prosecuted.
According to Sand, some 4 million Egyptian Christians have "emigrated from Egypt over the last 60 years, representing one-third of the entire Coptic population, and comprising nearly 75% of Egyptians living abroad."
As Sanad writes "Violence against Christians occurs every day, and the state usually takes the side of the Muslim murderers."
Sanad asks whether Egyptian Christians will ultimately face the same destiny as Egyptian Jews?
In Sanad’s view, it is possible that the Egyptian State actually "sponsored the attacks on foreign embassies." As he writes in the Times of Israel, “A group of poor thugs were paid and led to the American Embassy in Cairo to attack it, while they didn’t know where they were, or why they were there. Similar attacks occurred in other countries in which the Egyptian Intelligence has power. Not a single attack on a foreign embassy occurred outside the sphere of Egyptian influence. But Western countries cared more about their own interests in Muslim countries, and as usual surrendered to the racist blackmail of the Egyptian regime."
In his website, Sanad also criticizes Israel. He believes that the peace treaty with Egypt was to be based on which was on a diplomatic process that would lead to a two-state solution-Israel and Palestine.
Sanad writes indicating that Abbas is a "perfect leader" who believes in Israel's right to exist [he doesn't specifically mention Abbas as this "perfect leader", but surely he couldn't be talking about Arafat !]
"My people feel deceived when an Israeli leader speaks about annexing the west bank to Israel, or about living with the conflict forever, even while we had a perfect Palestinian leader who truly believes in peace and the right of Israel to exist."
I very much disagree with Sanad's notion that Abbas is a 'perfect leader'--on the contrary, he is far from it and has proven unwilling and unable to make the necessary compromises to forge a real peace with Israel.
Unfortunately, Palestinian leadership has proven to be incapable of making compromises at historic turning points. In fact the most interesting thing Abbas has said recently was a remarkable assessment delivered on Israeli TV in 2011, when Abbas said the Arab world erred in rejecting the United Nations’ 1947 plan to partition Palestine into a Palestinian and a Jewish state.
“It was our mistake. It was an Arab mistake as a whole,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Channel 2 TV in a rare interview to the Israeli media.,7340,L-4140735,00.html
Unfortunately, the admission has come 65 years too late.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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