Grapel op-ed: I do not regret travel to Egypt

In 'Washington Post' op-ed, former IDF soldier jailed in Egypt writes that Israel needs more grass-roots diplomacy, forgives jailers.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
January 2, 2012 10:46
1 minute read.
Ilan Grapel meets with Netanyhau

Grapel meets with Netanyahu 311. (photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

 
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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."

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