Saturday, September 27, 2008

Percy Gourgey, Jews of Arab lands campaigner, dies

One of the most stalwart fighters for the rights of Jews from Arab lands, Percy Gourgey, has died in London aged 84. (With thanks for obit: Geoffrey)

Percy Sassoon Gourgey, MBE, FRSA spent the last years of his life at Edinburgh House, the Sephardi home for the elderly in Wembley. He was born to Iraqi Jews in Bombay in 1923 and served as a Lieutenant in the Indian Navy during the war.

Percy spent the whole of his adult life as an activist in Jewish affairs. He served for many years on the executive of the Board of Deputies. At one time he was a vice chairman of the Board. He was a staunch supporter of the rights of Jews in Arab lands and chairman of the Jews In Arab Lands Committee. He had also been Chairman of the Socialist Societies Section of the Labour Party at the time when Socialism was fashionable in Anglo-Jewish cultural society.

Percy was an acknowledged authority on Indian Jewry, the Indian Freedom Struggle and the Indian Naval Revolt of 1946 and had written several books on these matters.

Percy was the first editor of The Scribe, the journal of Babylonian Jewry.

Edwin Shuker, president of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, adds:

"Percy Gourgey was a dogged and knowledgeable campaigner and an activist on many Jewish and Zionist issues. He was never afraid or intimidated to speak his mind even when he was a lone voice, such as on the subject of The rights of Jews of Arab Countries. For decades he kept the issue alive by repeatedly reminding the public of the Forgotten Exodus. I, for one, owe Percy an eternal debt of gratitude for introducing me to the multiple aspects of that issue.

"His funeral was dignified and well-attended by many leaders of the community including Mrs Flo Kaufmann, Professor Eric Moonman, Dr Naim Dangoor and Dr Lionel Koplowitz ,the former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews who gave a wonderful overview of Percy's public life and service to the community. Percy was a unique personality who dedicated his life to the causes he believed in. May his soul be blessed with eternal peace."

Percy Gourgey's speech on the 30th anniversary of the 1969 Baghdad hangings

Obituary in the Jewish Chronicle

2 comments:

Edwin said...

Percy Gourgey was a dogged and knowledgable campaigner and an activist on many Jewish and Zionist issues .He was never afraid or intimidated to speak his mind even when he acted as a lone voice such as on the subject of The rights of Jews of Arab Countries .For decades he kept the issue alive by repeatedly reminding the public of the Forgotten Exodus .I for one owe Percy an eternal debt of gratitude for introducing me to the multi aspects of that issue .
His funeral was dignified and well attended by many leaders of the community including Mrs Flo Kaufmann ,Professor Eric Moonman,Dr Naim Dangoor and Dr Lionel Koplowitz ,the former president of the Board of deputies of British jews who gave a wonderful overview of Percy's public life and service to the community .Percy was a unique personality who dedicated his life to the causes he believed in .May his soul be blessed with eternal peace .From Edwin Shuker,on behalf of Justice for Jews of Arab Countries (JJAC)

tanyaa said...

In referring to the right of self-determination for the inhabitants of Palestine (Letters, 23 February) Piers Paul Read overlooks the fact that this was offered by the UN General Assembly on 29 November 1947 in its most important resolution ever on the Middle East conflict. This was adopted and provided for the partition of Palestine, then under British mandate, into an Arab state and a Jewish state. While the Jewish Agency accepted it, the Arab states totally rejected it and invaded Israel to destroy her. If the Arabs had been moderate and accepted the plan, there would have been an Arab state and a Jewish state coexisting alongside each other. There were other opportunities that the Arabs regrettably missed.
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Tanyaa
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