Tuesday, April 21, 2020

  • Tuesday, April 21, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
Last year, Ramy Nabeel Shaath was arrested in Egypt and he was recently added to a terrorism watch list in Egypt.

At the time of his arrest, Egyptian authorities accused hi of being a member of a Muslim Brotherhood cell named "the Cell of Hope."

Shaath is the son of Nabil Shaath, a top PLO official and senior aide to Mahmoud Abbas. It turns out that, somehow, Nabil is also an Egyptian citizen, and therefore so is Ramy, even though Nabil was born in Palestine and Ramy in Beirut.

Ramy is the head of BDS in Egypt, and now his family is claiming that this is the reason he was arrested:

We were told that the reason for the detention of Ramy is his call for the boycott of Israel and its products in Egypt because this causes trouble to Egypt with Israel. We explained to them that the campaign is a peaceful one to pressure Israel to stop the settlement activities and to respect international law, and the signed peace agreements. This boycott campaign has branches throughout the world including in the U.S. , Europe and Israel itself. The Egyptian intelligence service has not pointed out to any terrorist act that is attributed to our son. This was later used to justify his unjust detention.
We assure everyone that our son Ramy has never, in all his life carried out any act of terror or any violation of Egyptian or Palestinian law. He has never been a member of any terrorist organization and he is committed to Egypt’s security and well being as he is about the security and the well being of Palestine. Our entire family makes this commitment as well.
They claim that they received this information from a top Palestinian security official.

While Egypt has a brutal autocratic regime and routinely arrests and imprisons its political opponents,  supporting BDS does not make sense as a reason to arrest someone. This claim appears to be made up in order to paint Egypt as a lackey of Israel, when even Israel doesn't arrest BDS activists.

What really happened is that Ramy loudly criticized Egypt for sending a mid-level official to the US-sponsored Manama conference on economic peace with Israel. His wife wrote an open letter to him on their anniversary last September:

They arrested you because you dared to be proudly Egyptian and Palestinian. You dared to resist the iron curtain that has been falling over Egypt, crushing the aspirations of its disillusioned, revolutionary youth. You dared to oppose Egyptian participation in the Israeli-American conference in Manama. To resist the selling-off of your people’s right to self-determination."
 Given that he was arrested only a week after the conference and days after his criticism, while he had been the head of BDS in Egypt for years, this makes much more sense. Egypt might cooperate closely with Israel but it doesn't love Israel that much. Israel gains nothing from the arrest, but Egypt silences a critic.

Interestingly, Ramy used to be a negotiator for the PLO and worked directly with Arafat. During the Oslo process he ate lunch with Israelis. He seems to have been radicalized in more recent years.

I don't think that Ramy really is a Muslim Brotherhood member, although it is possible that MB members are involved with him in his other activities against the Egyptian regime. But it is interesting that a top PLO official is trying to intimidate Egypt into releasing his son by painting the regime as a puppet of Israel, rather than emphasizing actual legitimate human rights issues.

(h/t Petra)



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