Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hello Maikel I’m back to support you

Dear Maikel,

I wanted to tell you a few things. First of all, I will be putting back my postings that I wrote in your honor back on my two blogs and of course on the face book page for your followers.

Second of all, I was thinking that you are caught between a rock and a hard place. Why? Because unfortunately you have managed to alienate both sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict. By your repeated and genuine expressions of solidarity with Israel and the Jews, you have become a pariah in Egyptian society. And also your pacifism runs up against the very rigid strategic realities facing the Jews, which is why we Jews are almost universal in rejecting your pacifism. I respect you deeply for standing by your beliefs even though they make you so unpopular on both sides.

Third of all, I invented a very comfortable fiction for myself by telling myself that the only way your weight could have risen by 4 kilos in two days was if you were being force-fed. I desperately wanted to believe you were being force-fed because honestly I was going crazy from worrying about your life when I learned to my horror that you weighed just 40 kilos, or 88 pounds. Now I accept that you were never being force-fed because you refused the IVs on the legitimate grounds that you feared the regime would try to use them to inject you with drugs. I think you are going to survive although I am amazed that you are still alive after more than 60 days on hunger strike.

I am amazed every day by your courage, compassion, and kindness and by your selflessness. Last week Kefaya Punk explained to me that actually you were granted a medical exemption from army service since you were medically unfit to serve due to your heart condition. As a practical manner, you are not even eligible or qualified for military service in the first place. I was amazed that even though you are not even subject to army service because of your medical condition, you would speak out so forcefully against conscription anyway. You could have easily just as well accepted your medical exemption and remained silent about your pacifist beliefs. But your point is you didn’t want to be recruited because of your pacifist beliefs.

So actually you weren’t speaking out for a military service exemption for yourself because you don’t need one. Rather you are advocating for the right of other Egyptian men to claim a conscientious objector status for themselves for their pacifist beliefs. So Egypt, like Turkey, Russia, and Armenia, has no military service exemption for pacifists. And you want to change that for the sake of other Egyptian men who may share your pacifist beliefs but are afraid to express them. Your courageous and unselfish attitude shines through completely, and it really touches my heart.

I want to tell you that your ideas continue to spread like wildfire even after your arrest. Your captors can imprison you, but they can’t imprison your ideas or prevent them from being shared with others. The day you were arrested, I was speaking on the phone with our mutual friend Kareem Amer. Kareem expressed his outrage and alarm about your arrest on the phone to me and told me that I MUST help you because you are pro-Israel.

Since that time, I have shared your ideas and your story literally everywhere that I could think of. I shared your ideas with an American Jewish organization official who is a friend of mine. I shared it with the executive director of the domestic violence shelter where I am staying in Miami, Florida. She is so moved by your story and courage that she has offered me her unconditional emotional support throughout your hunger strike. I shared it with my best friend, and she now knows she can expect regular panicked phone calls to her at all hours of the day and night about your case, and she’s helping me even though she has an infant son at home.

On Monday your Israeli Jewish friend Alon Rosen called me to remind me of the need to support you and to talk to me for like 45 minutes on ways we could support you. And also I am in touch with Sam Play in Germany who was your facebook friend and who supports you.

Also I have shared your story with several women who are survivors or victims of domestic violence and explained to them that you are a strong supporter of women’s rights. I told one of them who is suffering horrific violence and mortal threats from her husband that if you knew what she was going through, you would be sickened and appalled. I told her that you really hate to see men abusing and terrorizing women like this and you find it morally revolting.

When I told the women about your story they were incredibly moved. One of them told me that she understands how I feel about you being abandoned by the world because she said no one cares about the fact that her older son is trapped with her abusive ex-husband. Another one read one of your articles and told me she was touched by your story and courage and saddened by your suffering.

I shared your story as well with my friend Dr. Roya Araghi, a former political prisoner from Iran and a fellow pacifist like you who is a follower of the amazing Ayatollah Boroujerdi. Ayatollah Boroujerdi supports gender equality and pacifism like you do – and also separation of religion and state, democracy, and an end to the clerical regime in Iran. Roya has translated some of my writing about you into Persian in a bid to attract Iranian democratic support for you. And just today I was talking to one of Roya’s Iranian friends – and she happily joined your facebook page.

I also recruited a new Palestinian Arab friend to support you. And I recruited an Englishwoman who helps Iranian refugees in Europe to support you. I also recruited a Mormon Zionist to help you as well. So I got 5 people to help you.

At the same time I have deepened my bonds with your followers in Egypt. I am friends with your friend Ahmed Montaser, who has become my close friend and who has helped me emotionally to survive your hunger strike in its various painful stages for me. I had a great conversation last week with the blogger Kefaya Punk, and I’m in touch with Kareem Amer. I’m also in regular contact with your brother Mark Nabil and with two of your other friends in Egypt. And you see from this that I am continuing to spread your ideas and to support you in every way that I can – and that your ideas are continuing to spread despite your captivity.

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