Two peace activists have been arrested in Egypt this week, yet their stories could not be more different.
The first “peace activist” (I use the scare quotes advisedly) is in fact an anti-Israel activist, self proclaimed as an anti-Zionist who wishes to join the “Palestinian resistance”. In other words, he wishes to become a terrorist – in which case how he can be described as a peace activist is somewhat of a mystery. I suppose just being anti-Israel makes him automatically a peacenik.
Here’s what happened to him when he tried to cross into Egypt:
Egyptian security officials on Tuesday said a 24-year-old Israeli national held since Friday has been ordered detained for 15 more days for investigation into his illegal entry from Israel into the Sinai Peninsula.
The arrest of Andre Pshenichnikov was announced Monday.
The security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said he is under investigation in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh for allegedly trying to reach the Gaza Strip through Sinai. They identified him as Andrew Yaacoub Cheteko.
Earlier this year, Pshenichnikov, who immigrated with his family from Tajikistan 13 years ago, caused a stir when he declared that he wished to renounce his Israeli citizenship and adopt Palestinian citizenship.
“I hate Zionism,” he told the Associated Press in June. “I want to be part of the Palestinian resistance.”
On Monday unnamed Egyptian security officials said Pshenichnikov was stopped after filming security installations in Sinai and asking drivers for information.
Pshenichnikov told his girlfriend, who spoke to The Times of Israel on Monday, that he was traveling to Egypt to meet French friends he had met in Paris earlier this year. He called his family on Saturday to inform them that he’d been arrested, but as of Monday they were not sure of his whereabouts. His girlfriend said he had been moved from one detention facility to another, and suggested that he may have been held in Rafah and Port Said.
Svetlana Pshenichnikov, Andre’s mother, told Army Radio that he’d received a visa to enter Egypt last week, but that he’d encountered “a problem with his documents” and was arrested in Egypt.
“They didn’t let us speak much,” she said. “We called the number back that he’d called us from and they said it was not Taba, but Rafah. Now we don’t know what’s happening with him and we can’t speak to him.” Taba is on the Egyptian-Israeli border and would be the logical location for someone trying to enter Egypt from Israel legally; Rafah is on Egyptian-Gazan border.
According to Pshenichnikov’s girlfriend, he attempted to enter Egypt last Monday, but Israeli authorities detained him until Thursday — for what she said was no reason. After his release from Israeli detention, he crossed into Egypt and was arrested by the Egyptian police.
Pshenichnikov’s mother said she wasn’t even sure that he was arrested by the police, but that “it could be that he’s [held] by terrorists.”
Why would terrorists hold him? He’s their friend after all.
Earlier Monday, an Egyptian security official told Reuters that Pshenichnikov, a Bat Yam resident, was trying to reach the Gaza Strip through Sinai to fight alongside Palestinians.
I hope the Egyptians throw the book at him, and that Israel does not ransom this disloyal, not to say traitorous, terrorist-supporter as it did with Ilan Grapel when it released 25 Egyptian prisoners in exchange for his release. At least Grapel was acting in good faith, if stupidly, and did not reject his own country, unlike Pshenichnikov.
The second story, while also involving an arrest by the Egyptians, is completely different. This time we have a genuine bridge-builder between Israel and Egypt: The blogger Ahmed Meligy who blogs at the Jerusalem Post (read his blog, “Egypt’s Missing Peace) has been arrested by the Egyptian authorities and his whereabouts are unknown:
Jerusalem Post blogger Ahmed Meligy was reportedly arrested in Egypt on Monday.
An associate of Meligy, whose blog “Egypt’s Missing Peace” has been critical of the Egyptian government, informed the Post that he had been arrested in Alexandria.
No other information was immediately available, and the Post was unable to confirm Meligy’s whereabouts.
Meligy had recently informed Post Blog editor Lidar Grave that he would have to take a short hiatus from blogging because he was receiving threats.
In early November, Meligy opened a blog post critical of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi with the words, “I hope that I don’t get arrested for this one.” He went on to say “the Muslim Brotherhood is creating a dictatorship that will set back my Egypt for years to come.”
This is very worrying news indeed. May I suggest to the Egyptian authorities that they release Meligy in exchange for Pshenichnikov. That will make us all happy. Except for Pshenichnikov who doesn’t deserve anything else.