I think that Dr. Maikel Nabil Sanad has experienced the Passover drama in his own life in the past year. He endured a horrendous captivity for ten months, spending over four months on continuous hunger strike. He was a political prisoner who was held captive for expressing his views in opposition to the oppression of the Egyptian military and the lack of freedom and civil society in Egypt. His captors behaved with the impunity of the Pharoahs of ancient days, intentionally denying him essential medicine for his heart condition and vital medical care throughout his hunger strike. As a result of their deliberate cruelty, he came close to death on several occasions during his thirst and medicine strikes.
He was like David up against Goliath, and yet he prevailed in his struggle for freedom and dignity. He has miraculously regained not only his freedom but also his health. Originally facing an illegal three year prison sentence, he was instead released after a ten month ordeal in captivity.
I feel that Maikel’s struggle embodies the ideals of Passover, which are designed to deliver a message of hope and strength to oppressed and persecuted people everywhere. The Egyptian people today are in a state of political captivity at the hands of their Pharoahs in the Egyptian military. Maikel is one of the bravest leaders of the struggle against the Egyptian military’s cruelty. The message of Passover is that slavery and captivity are not natural human conditions. Instead, all human beings have the right to freedom and dignity. Passover celebrates deliverance from all forms of constraints and narrow places and all sources of oppression and captivity, including political repression.
I also send Maikel a message of my personal gratitude to him and his followers on Passover. In the past year, he and his followers have helped me to deliver myself from two major sources of captivity in my life: emotional abuse in my family of origin and my fear of the Arabs. His followers helped me find the inner courage to put an end to a lifetime of emotional abuse from my family of origin.
In addition, his incredibly consistent and loving expressions of friendship and solidarity with Israel and the Jews have helped to put an end to my fears about the Arabs. Maikel and his followers have clearly shown me that Arabs can be genuine friends and supporters of Israel and the Jews and that we Jews don’t have to be afraid of our Arab brothers and sisters in Egypt. He has created an intellectual space where Arabs and Jews can be friends and can support each other and speak freely with one another without barriers or fear. We can respectfully discuss and debate internal issues in Israeli politics. We can also work with each other side by side on issues of democracy, peace, and freedom that affect both Israel and the Jews on one side – and the Egyptian people on the other.