Professor Mohamed Aboulghar is an eminent Egyptian obstetrician whose book Yahood Masr (The Jews of Egypt) - from prosperity to dispersion (2005) was reviewed in the September 2007 issue of the Newsletter of the Association of Jews from Egypt (UK). The review is reproduced below, with the AJE's permission.
"Prof. Aboulghar, 67, is an eminent obstetrician at the
"In his book, Prof. Aboulghar gives due credit to the contribution of Egyptian Jewry in the spheres of trade and commerce, finance, education, journalism as well as music and the cinema. He describes the political activities of those Egyptian Jews who became affiliated to communist movements and those who embraced Zionism and emigrated to
"When discussing the position of the community within Egyptian society, Prof. Aboulghar points out that despite the hospitality and generosity accorded to them by the Egyptian people and Government, the Jews, with the exception of the Karaites and the poorer sections living in the Haret-El-Yahoud, never integrated fully. They did not identify with the Egyptian people’s interests and aspirations. They spoke foreign languages at home, mainly French, and did not learn how to read and write Arabic. When the nationality law was passed in the 1940s, many Jews did not apply for Egyptian nationality. They were looking more towards
"Moreover, according to Prof. Aboulghar, when the Zionist movement began to establish deeper roots in
"Finally, the book recounts that the Egyptianisation of commerce and industry, the nationalisation laws that Nasser promulgated and the expulsion, during the
considered a threat to state security, the Jews were treated better than the detained Muslims and Copts.
"It thus becomes clear on reading the book that the author attached no blame to the Egyptian people or Government for the exodus of the entire Jewish community. In fact, he concludes that even if
Since Prof. Aboulghar welcomes comments on his book, James Levy, an AJE (UK) committee member, sent an email to him, making the following points:
· Whilst it is true that Egyptian Jews did not integrate, it was not deliberate. It was the product of years of foreign occupation, of poor standards of education in Government schools and of liberal multiculturalism and tolerance. In any case, the integration of the poorer Jews within the wider Muslim and Coptic communities did not help them when the crunch came, and they also had to leave their country of origin.
· Why should 'Operation Suzannah' be blamed on the Jewish community? It is tantamount to saying that the Muslim community in
· Just as it was natural that Egyptians would sympathise with their Arab brethren in
· The entire Jewish community would not have emigrated because of the new laws and regulations on commerce and industry. After all, there were Jewish communities in Irak and
· Two examples of unfair treatment were given to Prof. Aboulghar:
1. Why did Jews have to apply for Egyptian nationality, even though they, their parents and grandparents were born in the country? They should have been entitled to that nationality automatically, just like Egyptian Muslims or Copts.
2. Why were Jews imprisoned during the 1967 war even though there were very few left and they presented no security risk to the state? The fact that they were treated in prison better than Muslims or Copts does not take away from the injustice.
Prof. Aboulghar acknowledged receipt of the comments and wished to pursue the dialogue, although there is little likelihood of him visiting the