Egyptian dissident Maikel Nabil, who was the first political prisoner of the post-Mubarak era in Egypt, stated that there can be no democracy in Egypt without peace with Israel. Nabil declared on a visit to Jerusalem, “I’m here to say we, the peace community and peace activists in Egypt, exist; even if the media or some regimes are trying to pretend that we don’t exist. I represent an Egyptian peace movement. I’ve been active in favor of peace and demilitarization in Egypt for four years now. We are acting against war and for peace, and vocally speak out for peace with all countries, including Israel.”

Nabil first became famous in 2009 as Egypt’s first conscientious objector, when he founded a movement against military conscription. In 2011, he actively participated in Tahrir Square protests, where he was arrested several times. Nabil continued vocalizing opposition towards the regime even after then-president Hosni Mubarak was ousted, and thus was arrested again. He was sentenced to a three-year prison term for insulting the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power after Mubarak was deposed and before current Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi came to power. After 302 days in prison, Nabil started a hunger strike, which lasted for 130 days and would eventually lead to him gaining his freedom. He is now living in Germany.

“Maikel is a hero. He sacrificed his freedom and almost his life for the cause of human rights and for the cause of peace in the Middle East, between Egypt and Israel, between Arabs and Israelis, and for peace worldwide. UN Watch is honored to facilitate this peace-building mission, which couldn’t come at a more vital time for the region,” said Hillel Neuer, the head of UN Watch, a Geneva-based pro-Israel human rights organization. Nabil declared, “After years of calling for peace, I have realized that practicing peace is more important than talking. We have had enough violence and confrontation and we want this to end.”

Back in 2010, Nabil wrote an article titled Why I’m pro-Israel. In the article, he claimed that he supports Israel because she is the biggest and oldest democracy in the region; because Israel within 50 years was able to successfully build a strong integrated state covering all aspects of life; because Israel has the best universities in the Middle East; because Israel is a free nation that respects minority rights; and because Israeli foreign policy is built on interests instead of racism. He contrasted all of these Israeli strengths to his native Egypt. While Nabil doesn’t agree with every thing Israel’s government does, he nevertheless has been an outspoken pro-Israel advocate.

So far, Nabil has spoken at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and did an interview with the Israeli media. He also visited Yad Vashem and the grave of Yitzhak Rabin. Nabil is also scheduled to speak at Tel Aviv University, the World Union of Jewish Students, and he seeks to also go to Ramallah, to promote peace there. He hopes that this trip will lead to greater things that might eventually establish true peace between Israel and the Arab world. As a staunch secularist whose family is Christian, Nabil is opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and wants true democratic reform in Egypt.

By Rachel Avraham

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