Friday, January 27, 2012

Celebrating Maikel's release from prison

Dear Maikel,

First of all I want to say to you that I am incredibly sorry for the harsh tone of my initial reaction to your release. I think it was based upon a misunderstanding.

I am so happy that you are finally free after 10 months of illegal and brutal captivity, during which you were on hunger strike for over 4 months. I proudly stood by you throughout your hunger strike and tried however unsuccessfully to mobilize people on your behalf. You fully deserve your freedom, and you should never have been imprisoned in the first place.

You are quite right and brave to continue defying your captors and pointing out that they had no right to imprison you. You also showed how the militarists violated your human rights in so many ways from placing you with common criminals to intentionally denying you the medical care you so desperately need to depriving you of food to giving you dirty bedding from which you got allergies all over your body to forcing you to shower in dirty water. I think what appalled me most about your captivity was the fact that your jailers consistently denied you essential medical care for your heart condition, kidney and lung problems, and high blood pressure during your hunger strike.

You stood up to your abusers, and you never backed down. Instead you forced your abusers to back down and release you on the eve of the first anniversary of Egypt’s democratic revolution. Unfortunately you received zero support from the West, the Americans, the Jews, and the so-called ‘human rights’ organizations.

You also received pitifully inadequate support from your fellow Egyptians because of your pro-Israel / pro-Jewish stance. Nonetheless the Egyptian people proved that although they despise you for your pro-Israel stance, nonetheless they were not going to let you die. They stood up when you were illegally placed in a mental hospital, and they also marched for you in December, although I considered their support to be way too little and way too late.

As a Jew, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your consistently loving support of my people the Jews. By standing up as an Arab man for peace and for Israeli democracy, you have made this world a much better place. You have also done a miraculous thing in creating an Arab intellectual space where I feel safe as a Jew to post my thoughts and feelings freely without fearing they will be used against my people. I pay tribute to the many Arab young men that I have met through your campaign, such as Ahmed Montaser, Ahmed Zidan, Mina Milad, and Amr Aladdin, who have helped me see that a different and more healing relationship between Jews and Arabs based upon mutual respect is possible.

In fact you remind me of some of the greatest Russian democratic intellectuals. For instance, you remind me of Yuri Orlov, a Russian democratic intellectual who spent many years in prison during the Brezhnev years and who worked very closely with the Russian Jewish dissident and now Israeli politician Natan Sharansky. In addition you remind me greatly of my beloved late teacher Galina Starovoitova, a Russian democratic politician who was brutally murdered by Putin in 1998. Galina was like you: a Russian democrat and a true friend of the Jews.

I am glad most of all that you are receiving the loving medical care that you so desperately need. You need to receive medical tests for your heart, kidneys, high blood pressure, and your whole body. I am thrilled that you can receive medical care by doctors who will care for you emotionally and physically without sending you back to prison again to suffer torture and abuse.

I am so happy that you have received such amazing love from your family: your brother Mark, your father Ibrahim, and your mother. I am glad that your mother can finally hug her beloved son and hold him in her arms and be reunited with him.

Your proud American Jewish supporter,

“Rachel Silverman”

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