One-stop blog on Jews from Arab and Muslim Countries and the Middle East's forgotten Jewish refugees, updated daily
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Egypt should discuss Jews' displacement
An effect of the Arab Spring is to cause Egyptians to go through a period of introspection and look back with sympathy and nostalgia to the time when Jews lived in and contributed to the land. In political scientist Amr Hamzawy's vew, Egypt ought to recognise Jews' displacement in this frank interview (via MEMRI). He idealises the Jews as integral to Egypt's Arabic culture - not always true, some did not even speak Arabic - and says very few went to the Zionist entity - not true, about half Egypt's Jews went to to Israel. (With thanks: Lily)
The Years Following The 'Displacement' Held For Them Precisely What They Had Feared When Their Ships Left The Shores Of Egypt: The Trip Was One-Way, With No Return Tickets"
"It is an odd thing, these people who were forced to leave Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s. They left it knowing no other homeland, and most of them did not know their final destination. The majority came upon safe havens in which to stay, settle down, and work, in a number of European countries and in the United States.
"The years following the 'displacement' held for them precisely what they had feared when their ships left the shores of Egypt: The trip was one way, with no return ticket.
"These are the Jews of Egypt, only a handful of whom knocked on Israel's door, and about whom I am writing today as a human concern, without any connection to politics.
"The strange thing about them is that in successive generations they have preserved their Egyptian identity, defining it as an emotional connection, a cultural identity, and a constant interest in... the homeland that was... Those who left Egypt in their 20s, 30s, or 40s, and who as mothers and fathers brought their children to Western societies, still use Arabic intensively. Some have managed to pass it on to their children and grandchildren – though while some of the elderly use an Egyptian dialectic whose expressions and forms are from the 1950s and 1960s, the middle-aged and the young use literary Arabic. [This is because] their emotional connection to Egypt prompted them to gain or refine their linguistic skills, and they studied[the language] academically – as do Westerners interested in Egypt or in the Arab countries in general."
The Egyptian Jews Remember "Human Solidarity... From [Both] Muslim And Christian Egyptians" – As Well As "Negativity, Vengefulness... And Denial Of Their Rights... From Other Egyptians"
"As for the [displaced Jews'] emotional connection to Egypt, its main source is the memories of those who left the places where they lived, studied, and worked. [These memories are] of their neighbors and the particulars of social life; of intellectual, artistic, and political activity; ...of the human solidarity some [of the Jews] received from Muslim and Christian Egyptians when they were collectively punished with displacement and were unwillingly embroiled in issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict; and also of the negativity, vengefulness... greed, exploitation, and denial of their rights that they encountered from other Egyptians...
"An additional source of thisemotional connection is [their]continued fondness for Egyptian culture and its various forms of creative expression: music, song, cinema, and popular culture... and likewise the[ir] continued interest in current events in Egypt..."
The Egyptian Jews' Culture Of Remembrance "Should Drive Us In Egypt To Frankly And Sincerely Discuss... The Displacement, Oppression, And Collective Punishment Forced On The Jews Of Egypt In The 1950s And 1960s"
"Today I am not talking about politics, and I am not concerned with the various positions of the Egyptian Jews living in Western societies regarding the Palestinian people's right to self-determination – which some of them justly affirm and others wrongly deny. And I am not concerned with those who regularly visit Israel, or with those who refrain from doing so out of rejection of the occupation, the crime of settlement, and the violation of the Palestinians' rights and liberties.
"Today I am not concerned with any of that. I am just taking note of this singular case of the culture of remembrance and the safeguarding of a love for the homeland that was... [It] should drive us in Egypt to frankly and sincerely discuss the facts about the displacement, oppression, and collective punishment forced on the Jews of Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s – which call for a culture of remembrance of a different sort [in Egypt].
In just 50 years, almost a million Jews, whose communities stretch back up to 3,000 years, have been 'ethnically cleansed' from 10 Arab countries. These refugees outnumber the Palestinian refugees two to one, but their narrative has all but been ignored. Unlike Palestinian refugees, they fled not war, but systematic persecution. Seen in this light, Israel, where some 50 percent of the Jewish population descend from these refugees and are now full citizens, is the legitimate expression of the self-determination of an oppressed indigenous, Middle Eastern people. This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, which can never return to what and where they once were - even if they wanted to. It will attempt to pass on the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution. Awareness of the injustice done to these Jews can only advance the cause of peace and reconciliation. (Iran: once an ally of Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran is now an implacable enemy and numbers of Iranian Jews have fallen drastically from 80,000 to 20,000 since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Their plight - and that of all other communities threatened by Islamism - does therefore fall within the scope of this blog.)