You will find no Jews in Tahrir Square. Egypt's 75,000-strong Jewish community have been almost all ethnically cleansed from Egypt. Rachel Wahba writes this passionate piece lamenting the West's indifference and ignorance in LezGetReal, an online site for Gay Girls. Needless to say, there are not many of those in Tahrir Square either.
You will find no Jews in Tahrir Square. Or in Mansoura, where Grandfather Wahba had a drug store. I scan the architecture on CNN looking past the screaming demonstrators. I want to see Egypt, Dad’s Egypt, and imagine what he would be saying about the situation today; almost four years since he died.
Egypt is in the news and how I miss my father. I see “Rioting in Mansoura, Cairo, Alexandria,” flash on the news. Cities that were home to my dad, at different points in his life. Born to an old Egyptian family in Mansoura, “the Wahbas were real (not transplants from another country), Egyptians” he bragged. They were indigenous to the land, originally farmers, peasants, in Midghram.
When President Obama spoke in Cairo he didn’t ask, “Where are your Jews”? Once not so long ago Egyptian Jews were an integral part of Egypt’s infrastructure. Obama did mention the Copts (Egypt’s Christians,) another indigenous group who suffer discrimination and he asked for “tolerance”.
ASK WHERE ARE THE JEWS WHO LIVED HERE FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS I wanted to break through his eloquence. But yelling at the TV is not my style.
And now I shall deliver some mostly ignored facts and have my own Tahrir Square experience:
In 1948 there were 75,000 Jews in Egypt After the expulsion in l956 during Nasser’s reign, most of Egypt’s Jews were forced to flee. My grandfather had to sign a document saying he would never return. A variety of creative humiliations accompanied the confiscation of any property. Nothing of monetary value was allowed out with their one suitcase of clothing.
Penniless, the majority of Egyptian Jews ended up in transit camps in Israel.
Part 2: how Arabs embraced Nazi antisemitism