Grapel meets with Netanyahu 311.
(photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Ilan Grapel, the
dual US-Israeli citizen arrested in Egypt this summer on charges of
espionage, said Monday that he does not regret traveling to Egypt.
In an opinion piece published by the Washington Post,
Grapel emphasized the importance of the grass-roots diplomacy
in which he was engaged, saying that Israel "has much to gain from such a
strategy, given the pernicious myths about Israel and Jews prevalent in
much of the Arab world."
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Grapel stated that he was ultimately successful in changing the mentalities of a number of Egyptians. "My hasbara
provided a viewpoint that changed the mentalities of former Muslim
Brotherhood members, the prosecutor and my guards, whose last words were
'Shalom, we hope you forgive us.' Israelis and Arabs can continue to
maintain the status quo of mutual avoidance or they can dare to coexist."
Grapel was arrested at his downtown Cairo hotel by Egyptian state
security officers in June 2011 on suspicion of working for Israeli
intelligence to foment sectarian strife and gather intelligence on
post-revolution Egypt. He previously served in the IDF and was wounded
in the Second Lebanon War. Grapel was freed in October 2011 after
spending over five months in prison. Israel released 25 Egyptian
prisoners to secure his freedom.
In the op-ed, Grapel added his thoughts about Egypt's revolutionary Arab
Spring. "Hosni Mubarak’s notorious state security forces still
arbitrarily arrest Egyptians without real charges or trials (as they did
me), denying anything resembling due process. Prosecutors and judges go
through the motions of court proceedings, but the Supreme Council of
the Armed Forces really calls the shots," he wrote.
Grapel also expanded on the conditions of his imprisonment. He described
his solitary confinement as "near-complete isolation, interrupted just
twice a month by consular visits that lasted only 40 minutes." Despite the harsh conditions, Grapel chose to look forward: "To those who wrongly held me, I say simply, I forgive you."