With thanks: Lily
Update: whereas the usual suspects (Islamists) have slammed the series as an attempt at 'normalisation' with Israel, Magda Haroun, who heads the tiny Jewish community in Egypt, has criticised the series for depicting Jews as rich. She points out that the
gateways of the Jewish Quarter were not as splendid as they are depicted (indeed, much
of the Old Jewish Quarter of Cairo was a slum). Not all
Jews had refrigerators in the 1940s - indeed only the king and a
few others had them at that time. The
scenes inside the synagogue are imaginary and the Jewish worship rituals mostly gibberish; no one, let alone Jewish women,
wore mini-skirts in 1944 ; the scene about the air raid of Cairo grossly misrepresents the Jewish
community as having better access to shelters than non-Jews.
Trailer for Haret-al-Yahud, Egyptian TV series for Ramadan
Egyptian viewers are currently glued to their Ramadan TV soap opera, Haret al-Yahud. As already remarked on Point of No Return, Jews are portrayed in a more sympathetic light than in the past - reflecting the new Al-Sisi regime's thinking. This does not mean that the series advocates 'normalisation' with Israel - far from it.
In this TV studio discussion (via MEMRI) with the makers and actors of Haret al-Yahud (Jewish Quarter), the scriptwriter, Medhat al-Adhel, says he has tried to evoke the cosmopolitan Egypt of the past where different communities rubbed along in harmony. He also evokes al-Andalus in medieval Spain, where Jews thrived under Muslim rule.
Al-Adhel says that Israel is still the Arabs' primary enemy. The panellists are agreed that a distinction must be made between Jews and Zionists: Egyptian Jews are Egyptians first.
However, one actress is appalled that Egyptian Jews are not even able to practise their religion in freedom (She thinks there is quite a community, although there are in fact only eight Jews living in Cairo). She asks why all synagogues are locked. She was told that Jews are afraid to say they are Jewish, describing themselves as Christians.
The writer El-Adhel puts forward the novel idea that Israel is to blame for enticing poor Egyptian Jews to Israel as a result of the Lavon affair. The wealthy Jews expelled by Gamal abdul-Nasser did not go to Israel, but to Europe and elsewhere, he maintains.
According to Wikipedia, The Lavon Affair refers to a failed Israeli covert operation, code named Operation Susannah, conducted in Egypt in the Summer of 1954:
" Egyptian Jews were recruited by Israeli military intelligence to plant bombs inside Egyptian, American and British-owned
civilian targets, cinemas, libraries and American educational centers.
The bombs were timed to detonate several hours after closing time. The
attacks were to be blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian Communists,
"unspecified malcontents" or "local nationalists" with the aim of
creating a climate of sufficient violence and instability to induce the
British government to retain its occupying troops in Egypt's Suez Canal zone.
The operation caused no casualties, except for operative Philip
Natanson, when a bomb he was taking to place in a movie theater ignited
prematurely in his pocket; for two members of the cell who committed
suicide after being captured; and for two operatives who were tried,
convicted and executed by Egypt. "
This explanation fails to account for the flight of 14, 000 Egyptian Jews to Israel in 1948/49 following violence - ironically, much of it in the Haret al-Yahud in Cairo - arrests and internment. A substantial number of Jews expelled by Nasser also went to Israel.
This extract from the 3rd programme in the series shows that the prayers and rituals are mostly made up.(Clip: Elder of Ziyon)