Eulogy by Robert Dassa
I would like to tell you about Marcelle the way I knew her.
I knew her like no other.
Young Marcelle grew up in Cairo. She was a beautiful, wise young woman with a bright future ahead of her, when she responded to the request made by a representative of the State of Israel, to be recruited for a risky operation.
Marcelle was aware of the gravity of the task and the risks attached. Why was she motivated to operate for a state afar, a state she had never visited, where she had no family nor friends?
The answer was Zionism and love for the State of Israel. We were young idealist Jewish; devoted Zionists who lived in Egypt. And we remained so, during all the many years which followed. We always looked up to Israel; It was what we aspired for.
I first met Marcelle in court during trial. I saw a young, strong woman who kept her own, fine appearance, as you can see in the few photos which were taken in court. It was the Egyptian Military Judge, General Digwi, who recognized the way she carried herself with dignity. He said to Muslim detainees, who did not show similar resilience, that they should have followed the model of the young woman who attended the court hall just before they did.
During the difficult years in prison, we were thinking about Marcelle and cared for her, as we did for each other, from afar. It was between the walls of prison that our connection grew stronger.
We knew it must be very hard on her, to be a young woman alone, surrounded by enemies. We made efforts to keep in touch with each other. One time, Marcelle found an original way to do so, when she sealed the sewage path and thus made a plumber come fix it. She then delivered a letter for us in his vessel. She also knitted a sweater for us, as well as handkerchiefs and socks that I keep to this day. For my part, I sent her postcards with drawings and stickers, every year for her birthday. It was not easy to get a hold of such things in prison but it supported and strengthened us.
Marcelle was the only woman in our net. I hinted earlier about the hardship she had to face. One can only imagine what Marcelle went through. But anyone who knew her saw a strong, impressive and brave person. She was a sensitive woman with special grace who always stood tall.
When we were released, they asked Marcelle, what was the first thing she wished for. She replied – a bubble bath. I asked to drink from a glass made of glass.
Now is not the time to elaborate about the spying affair, about the questions – Who gave the order? Who was responsible for our late, delayed release?
Marcelle decided to recover, rehabilitate and to live on. She married Ely and filled her new life with substance and meaning. She was well educated, broad-minded, a lover of books and art.
But the inner wound never really healed.
The destiny we shared connected us in a special bond, which only grew deeper over the years.
We continued to care and support each other. We lived fifty meters away from each other. She was an inseparable part of me, a sister to me and an aunt to my kids.
But – whoever thinks she was perfect, does not know her craving for Mulukhiyah soup, which we used to eat together.
I will miss Marcelle enormously.
It feels as if yet another part of me is now gone, after the passing of Victor and of Philippe.
I do have one request to make on behalf of Marcelle; call it her will if you wish: May the people that make sure our story lives on will be found. It is especially meaningful to convey the story and pass it to youth and the next generations, perhaps within the framework of a public education. Make sure it is not forgotten.
I think it should make Marcelle happy.
Rest in peace Marcelle.
We will miss you very much. We love you.
Eulogy by Barbara Philippe’s wife