One-stop blog on Jews from Arab and Muslim Countries and the Middle East's forgotten Jewish refugees, updated daily
Saturday, January 02, 2016
Egypt can't afford to keep the Jewish books it claims
The words of the current Egyptian Minister of Culture headlining this Jerusalem Post piece sum up the question of Egypt's Jewish literary heritage:
"There is nothing called ‘Jewish books in Egypt,’ the books
scientifically should be classified as Arabic, Persian, Turkish, etc.” he said. By classifying Jewish books by language as 'Egypt's national heritage' Egypt is denying the exiled Jewish community's right to its books and registers, already a sore point, and will not let Jewish heritage leave the country. Yet Egypt does not have the money to maintain them.The local community head, Magda Haroun, echoing the Egyptian line, is not helping.
Cairo's Adly St synagoguehas its own Jewish library
"The artifacts “belong to the Jews. Israel has asked the authorities
many times to allow for their transfer to synagogues in Israel, or at
least the Torah scrolls, which are rotting there,” said the former
ambassador (to Egypt, Zvi Mazel).
But these requests were rebuffed, he said, asking
“why?” “There is no logic in that rebuff but this is still the
situation and it’s very sad.”
The head of the dwindling Jewish
community, Magda Haroun, told the Beirut-based website Now Lebanon this
month that her greatest concern is the heritage, including Torah
scrolls and records, as well as 12 synagogues in Egypt, with 10 falling
under the authority of the Antiquities Ministry.
holidays, we get together, cook and invite friends over. I am 63 years
old and I am the youngest. We are seven old women, who are not very
demanding, but we do not want to lose our heritage,” Haroun said. She
also mentioned that the Antiquities Ministry does not have funds to
take care of this heritage.
Haroun complained that international
Jewish organizations have offered help, but most of them want to take
the antiquities out of the country.
“These scrolls are Egyptian
heritage and should stay in Egypt, as part of its diverse history.
There is no way I am going to let them out of my country.”
week, Mohamed Abdel-Latif, the ministry’s head of Islamic, Coptic and
Jewish Antiquities Section, told The Cairo Post, “The body authorized
to be responsible for Jewish books and manuscripts is the Culture Ministry."
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.)