This article is republished with the express and kind permission of Maikel Nabil Sanad and was originally published on his website at http://www.maikelnabil.com/2012/09/egypt-israel-new-treaty-is-needed.html and in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.
I include his bio here:
I was born in Assiut, Egypt in 1 Oct. 1985. I grew up there until I moved to Cairo in 2009, but I live now in Germany since May 2012.
- I was studied a bachelor in Veterinary medicine in Assiut University, Then a diploma in Law in Cairo University (but didn’t have the chance to finish it). Now I’m making my Master in Public Policy in Willy Brandt School, Erfurt University, Germany.
- I began my politic activity in late 2005. During these years I was active in several Liberal politic parties, and Democratic politic movements. I also participated in several events with several Egyptian and International organizations locally and internationally.
- I started blogging in 2006. Now I have over 1800 post in my blog, and about 300 articles available online. Some of them were published in famous international newspapers.
- In April 2009, I founded “No for Compulsory Military Service Movement “, against the obligatory military service in Egypt. The movement is still acting in Egypt against wars, and promoting peace culture, supporting conscientious objectors to the military service, and monitoring the actions of the military.
- In 2010, I started a campaign demanding my right in a conscientious objection from the military service. My campaign lasted until I received my final exemption from the military service in 20 November 2010, and so I became the first conscientious objector to the military service in Egypt.
- I was arrested several times because of my political activity. The last time was in 28 March 2011 because of my articles about the violations to human rights done by the military. I was tried in front of a military court, and was sentenced to 3 years in prison. Later I started a hunger strike lasted for 130 days, and I boycotted the military tribunals insisting on my right to be tried in front of a civilian court. I was released finally in 24 January 2012, after 302 days in prison.
- I gave tens of lectures in Egypt, Europe, and USA in topics related to Democracy and Peace. I also was interviewed by hundreds of TVs and newspapers.
Egypt & Israel: A New Treaty Is Needed
>> 06 September 2012
One of the things I hate about the marriage institution is that the rules (the contract) are decided only one time, and can’t be updated again. I think it’s irrational, because life is a dynamic environment. Everything and everyone change all the time. you, me and them. So, how you can make fixed rules for changing things? How you can sign some rules when you are 25, and expect that you will like these rules after 30 years when you will be 55? I believe humans should be able to update the rules every day. This will make their relations more healthy and successful.
The same works in politics. Nations shouldn’t have fixed contracts for their relations with each other. Look at France and Germany after the World War 2 as an example. They are updating the rules every day from the European Economic Area to the EU, to the NATO …etc. Every year there is a new update in the rules of the relation between both countries. That’s why they are acting as perfect allies, and there is no fear on collapsing the peace status between both of them.
That’s why I don’t like the Egyptian-Israeli Peace treaty anymore. It’s a 70s model of contracts which can’t work anymore in the 21 century. It became just a piece of paper which can’t protect the peace status any more. It’s a fixed contract, meant to be a beginning in 1979, but no one cared to update this contract. And the sad fact is that both countries can’t live with this contract any more. Now the treaty is going in one of two directions: either to be updated or to fall!
Egypt, double-Face Authorities oppressing moral people
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 deal. Al-Sadat wanted a real peace, but they don’t. They are still dreaming in making revenge for their successive loses in previous wars against Israel.
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 haven’t canceled a law was made before the peace treaty which criminalizing Zionism, and punishing 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 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 haven’t opened Academic center in Israel according to the treaty. Egyptians have to take 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 mention facilitating invading the Israeli Embassy, and terrorist attacks on Israeli borders.
On the other hand, the Egyptian people feel deceived. They know that the peace treaty was built on 2 bases: Giving Sinai back to Egypt, and making a progress forward in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
The first base is not going well while some Israeli Politicians speak about reoccupying Sinai, or giving it to Palestinians. You can’t trust someone who is talking about re-invading your country for the third time, and gets elected and participates in the government.
And the other base, there is no progress in the peace talks with Palestinians. It was going good until Oslo 1993, and then everything stopped. After Ariel Sharon left the cabinet, Peace with Palestinians is not any more on the agenda of Israeli governments. The point is that the peace treaty was meant to make Israel coexist in Middle East as Egypt, not to Make Egypt isolated in the area as Israel. Egyptians are not Anti-Semitic people; they are just moral people who can’t stop themselves from caring about Palestinians who suffer from occupation and building new settlements on their land. My people feels deceived when an Israeli leader speak 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. The way that Netanyahu speaks about Abu Mazen is completely humiliating in a way never used in diplomatic medium. This wasn’t our deal. And calling for ending the Palestinian suffering of course couldn’t be considered anti-Semitism or even Anti-Israel speech. It’s Israel which risks the peace treaty when it ignores Palestinian rights, not Egyptians when being pro-Palestinians.
Israel, Uncaring leaders ruling scared people
Well, even Israel is a democracy, but strangely it acts in the same manner as Egypt. In Israel also there is a gap between reactions of politicians and normal citizens.
Israeli leaders don’t care about building peace relation with Egyptians. The Israeli Embassy in Egypt doesn’t have a website. The Israeli Academic Centre in Egypt don’t have Arabic page, and the English page don’t include contacts. I had to use the Hebrew page to get information about this socially-inactive hole. After all these years no leadership in Israel (rightwing or leftwing) cared to open a website for the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, or to have Arabic information for Egyptians about the Israeli mission on their land.
The Israeli Embassy in Egypt acts as if their job to maintain good relation with the Egyptian dictatorship, not the Egyptian people. They never invited peace activists to their events, Just Egyptian officials. They are more loyal to the Egyptian military more than Egyptian young military officers. I questioned myself to which side these guys belong after a senior official in the Israeli Embassy in Cairo asked me if I have permission from the Egyptian Intelligence when I wanted to get a visa to Israel.
Israeli leaders don’t even care about Egypt violations to the peace treaty. They never complain. They never complained about Egyptian security orders to arrest any Egyptian who enters the Israeli Embassy. They never complained about Egypt blocking official Israeli internet websites including sites of the Israeli president, the prime minister, the ministry of foreign affairs and others. They never complained about targeting Egyptian Peace activists. They never complained about Egypt arrest to normal Egyptian citizens and accusing them of treason because of having a mobile number of an Israeli citizen saved on their mobile phones. And instead of complaining about Egypt violations to the peace treaty, Israel is defending Human Rights violations in front of the UNHRC, and packing the Egyptian dictatorship in USA.
Israelis remind me with the Christian minority in Egypt. In Egypt lots of groups scare Christians; Salafis, Moslem Brothers, Military Authorities, Churches, Holy books, even Christian human rights activists. All of these groups use scare tactics to push Christians in the direction they want them to go. As a former Christian, I couldn’t stop being a reaction, and start to be an action, except when I decided not to put fears in consideration. I don’t let fears affect my decisions. That’s why I don’t react to scare tactics.
The same happens with Israelis, every one scares them. Israelis are nearly the most scared people on Earth. They are scared from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, Israeli Arabs, the Arabic Spring, Nazis, Arab League, Anti-Zionist Jews, etc. Even Israeli politicians and peace activists use scare as a way to motivate Israelis. That’s why Israeli elections usually mirror reactions not demands of Israelis. Even the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty was a reaction to Al-Sadat initiative, not an Israeli initiative.
I understand how difficult it’s to be an Israeli. I understand how it’s when you live in a part of the world which praises Hitler and considers another holocaust against Jews is a good step forward to the resurrection day. I understand how it’s to send your kids to a school knowing that this school could be bombed by a terrorist, and his people will call him a martyr. But still, being a reaction converts you into a tool in the hand of the one made the action. Your enemy calculates your reaction before making his action. And most of these scary groups don’t deserve such attention; The Iranian regime is falling from inside, Hamas which don’t even have aircraft won’t throw Israel in the sea, The Moslem Brothers in Egypt turned to be copies from Mubarak, there will be no holocaust in the 21 century.
A Jewish friend once told me when I was criticizing Israel foreign policies “When my government fails in something, I have to do it myself”, and I believe this is the right thing to do now, after I experienced myself the un-functionality of Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I believe Israelis need to stop being a reaction to anyone. They should decide what the right thing to do, and do it without thinking of the sequences. If Israelis had stood beside Arabic revolutions, it would have been the best thing happened to Israel ever in recent history. Menachem Begin in 1977 didn’t trust Al-Sadat and wanted to make him leave Israel in the first day of his visit, but it was the Israeli peace groups which made this peace works. I believe Israelis and Egyptians shouldn’t wait their leaders to make a progress. I didn’t wait my government. The society has to push politicians, not the opposite. Israelis have to vote for politicians based on political agenda, not based on fears. What’s the idea for a security agenda government, while this government apologized to Egypt after Egyptian authorities facilitated a terrorist attack on Israel? Initiatives for a new treaty with Egypt should start from the ground. Israelis shouldn’t wait until the treaty falls, and then forced to make a reaction again.
Israel had a peace agreement with Egypt in 1956, and the cold peace lasted at that time for 11 years. But because it was an agreement with the Egyptian authority not Egyptian people, this agreement fall in a couple of weeks in 1967. The same can happen with 1979’s treaty. A piece of paper wouldn’t protect the status of peace between the two nations. 1979’s treaty will fall anyway. So, it’s either making a new treaty now, or facing the sequences of falling of the peace treaty while we don’t have another alternative.
Egyptian Activist, Leader of “No for Compulsory Military Service Movement”, became the first conscientious objector to the military service in Egypt in 2010, then the first conscious prisoner to boycott military trials in August 2011, spent 10 months in Egyptian prisons last year (with 130 days of hunger strike) because of defending human rights, and is nominated for the next Noble Peace Prize.
This article was published in Hebrew and English in Haaretz newspaper