Monday, October 19, 2020

Bahraini peace with Israel stops short of full relations

Flying into Bahrain on an El Al jet, an  Israeli diplomatic team signed several historic agreements with Bahraini officials. But for domestic political reasons, the Bahrainis stopped short of a full peace treaty, unlike the UAE.

A joint Israeli-US delegation flew to Bahrain yesterday for the signing of a joint communique between Israel and Bahrain on establishing diplomatic relations. 

The Israeli delegation was led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Foreign Ministry director general Alon Ushpiz. They were joined by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the White House envoy to the peace process, Avi Berkowitz.

Ben-Shabbat and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani signed a “Joint Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic, peaceful, and friendly relations.” The two countries promised not to take hostile actions against one another and to act against hostile actions by third countries. The two countries also signed eight separate Memorandum of Understandings in economic cooperation, civil aviation, cooperation between the ministries of finance, communications and post, agriculture, cooperation between the ministries of foreign affairs, exemption of visa requirements for diplomats and cooperation between their respective Chambers of Commerce. 

 At the welcoming ceremony at the airport, Bahraini Foreign Minister Al Zayani said: “Today we start implementing the peace declaration which we signed in Washington. This approach is the most efficient one to achieve peace in the Middle East. This morning, the first commercial flight from the UAE, a Boeing 787 from Etihad Airlines landed in Israel.Bahrain requested that it only sign an interim agreement and not a fully-fledged peace treaty with Israel, like the UAE did earlier this month. 

 Bahraini foreign ministry official said: “In contrast to the UAE we prefer to take more measured steps and to sign a framework agreement at this stage, rather than a full peace treaty. We have seen the criticism that has emerged in Bahrain and other Arab countries as a result of the normalisation agreements with Israel and we are taking them into account. 

But we will not derail the process of establishing relations between the countries ahead of a full peace treaty that will include full diplomatic relations, exchange of ambassadors, opening embassies and a range of diplomatic, economic, business and tourism agreements with Israel.” Israeli officials have also noted the opposition to normalisation within Bahrain, which has a Shi’ite Muslim majority but ruled by a Sunni monarchy. 

Azerbaijan Jews pray for the motherland'

As the conflict rages between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno- Karabakh, the Chabad emissary to Azerbaijan, Shneur Segal, has been praying for the victory of the 'motherland'. David Ian Klein in The Forward filed this report: 

Azeri Jewish girls before marriage, 1950s (photo: Bet Hatefutsot)

Azeris consider Shusha, in the north of the region, to be a city of national and historical importance, as it was a center of Azeri culture before the area was conquered by the Russian Empire. 

 “I believe we’ll hold our next sermon at Shusha,” Segal said during his synagogue’s service, according to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency. Though most countries haven’t taken a side in the current conflict, the international community has largely recognized Azerbaijan’s claim to the region since the 1990s. 

The current conflict has led to the most intense fighting that Nagorno-Karabakh has seen since the early 1990s. Following a few clashes over the summer, it began in earnest in late September. Both sides claim the other struck first, both have seen heavy casualties, and both have seen their civilian populations, even outside of the conflict zone, targeted.

 It’s further complicated by each side’s allies. Azerbaijan has received significant arm sales from Israel in recent years, as one of their few allied Muslim nations. Armenians have reported Israeli made-weapons being used on Armenian villages in Nagorno-Karabakh, prompting the country to recall its ambassador from Israel in early October. 

However, far more troubling for Armenians is Azerbaijan’s biggest backer, Turkey. The memory of the Armenian genocide — perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, as it transitioned into the Turkish Republic — is fresh in the minds of Armenians, and war with Turkish backed enemy has led some Armenians to say that the conflict is an existential threat. Armenia, on the other hand, is backed by both Russia and Iran. 

 When Rabbi Segal said he would give his next sermon in Shusha, he was speaking to the desire of Azeris to reconquer a region they feel was stolen from them 30 years ago. “We prayed for every soldier and our army, which fights for our motherland,” he said at the service. Across the battle lines though, in a Sukkah in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, Armenian Jews prayed too. 

 “I sat there with my mask on to protect against COVID-19, next to a Lubavitcher rabbi, praying that Israeli bombs won’t fall on Armenian lives,” an Armenian Jew named Rachel told Haaretz. Unlike Armenia, which has only about 500 Jews, 

Azerbaijan has a large and diverse Jewish community, estimated by its members at around 30,000. Azerbaijan is the only place outside of Israel and New York state to contain an all-Jewish town. Qirimizi Qeseba, sometimes known by its Russian name, Krasnaya Sloboda, is an enclave of Azerbaijan’s “Mountain Jews,” who have been present in the Caucasus Mountains since as early as the 8th century BCE.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

US pressures Sudan to 'normalise' relations with Israel

Washington has given Sudanese leaders a 24-hour deadline to decide whether they agree to a deal that will see the country normalize relations with Israel in exchange for financial aid and removal from a US blacklist of state sponsors of terror, according to several reports in Arabic-language media. The Times of Israel takes up the story: 

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok: opposed to normalisation

 CNN Arabic and Dubai-based Asharq News both reported the American deadline, citing unnamed high-ranking Sudanese government officials, and said government leaders met for long hours to weigh the offer. The veracity of the reports could not be immediately confirmed. 

 According to Asharq, Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok remained opposed to linking normalization with the American deal. 

There have been consistent reports of a serious split between the military and civilian players in Sudan’s fragile transitional government, with Hamdok against normalization at this time, while military head of state Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan favors it.

 Hamdok has said that the transitional government did not have a mandate to normalize with Israel. The US has led efforts to pressure Sudan into normalizing ties with Israel. Khartoum’s position on the terror blacklist subjects it to crippling economic sanctions.

Friday, October 16, 2020

JJAC president Rabbi Abadie to relocate to Dubai from NYC

The appointment  as full-time rabbi in Dubai of Rabbi Elie Abadie, who was forced to leave his native Lebanon as a refugee, shows that the UAE is serious in its intent to 'grow' the local Jewish community, now estimated to have up to 1,500 members. But does his departure  leave vacant the post of President of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, which advocates for the rights of Jews driven from the Middle East and North Africa?

Rabbi Elie Abadie

The small but growing Jewish community of Dubai is getting its second full-time rabbi, the Jewish Council of the Emirates (JCE), one of two Orthodox congregations in the country, announced Friday.

 Beirut-born Elie Abadie, a prominent rabbi and scholar of Sephardic Judaism currently living in New York City, will relocate to the Gulf metropolis to serve as the community’s senior rabbi. The JCE is the country’s oldest congregation and the only one recognized by local authorities. 

 "I feel like I’m coming home to my roots, to the region where I was born, to the language that I first spoke, and to the beautiful traditions and customs with which I grew up,” Abadie said in a statement.

The struggle to preserve Afghanistan's Jewish heritage

This Ghandara article gives an interesting overview of Afghanistan's remaining Jewish heritage, whose ownership it claims was largely transferred to the government (more likely, the government took over abandoned property). Although only one Jew remains, officials seem to think that the restoration of Jewish sites will be a testament to 'religious tolerance'. As is usual with such articles, the flight of the Jews is attributed to Afghanistan's wars and generalised conflicts, although almost all but a few hundred Jews left the country for Israel and the US after a period of antisemitic persecution in the 1930s.

Several synagogues, a cemetery, and a bathhouse remain, according to Herat’s cultural officials. But existing regulations make it difficult to determine who owns or is responsible for the properties. One Herat resident claims he is the owner of the public bathhouse. He says he had the 250-year-old property partially demolished. Herat's Jewish bathhouse is more than 250 years old and has been partially demolished -- without legal permission. Zalmai Safa, Herat's director of historical monuments, says the man is the legal owner but was not given permission to tear down the site. “He wanted to acquire and reconstruct the bathhouse,” he told Radio Free Afghanistan. “But due to its antiquity, construction method, and significance to Herat’s Jewish history, we did not permit its demolition.” 

The revolutions, large-scale displacement, and horrific violence of the past half-century have left a legacy of conflicts at all levels across Afghanistan. Disputes over land and property ownership are the most common kind of conflict between individuals and communities. The fact that Herat’s Jewish community left decades ago has encouraged some to take over the dilapidated communal properties. Safa says these properties are relics of the Jewish community and have immense value for Afghans wishing to remember their legacy. His hope is for Afghans to preserve the remaining monuments so that they will exist for future generations as a testament to religious tolerance. “These monuments are important because of their historic heritage. They showcase the tolerance our society had for the adherents of various faiths,” he noted. “It is our duty to preserve them for future generations just as our ancestors preserved them for us.” 

Herat officials say that before they fled the country Jews transferred the ownership of synagogues, cemeteries, and other properties to the Afghan government. Others sold them outright. This alley in Herat was once home to Jewish families. Herat resident Younis, who like many Afghans goes by one name only, fondly remembers living next door to a Jewish family in the 1970s. He says in those days religious differences were never a topic of discussion. 

"There were probably 70 to 80 Jewish families in the area we were living in. We had a good relationship with them,” he said. “We went to their shops, and they came to our homes. But then the revolution came, and everyone fled; they all moved to Israel,” he said of the last few families. Gul Ahmad, another Herat resident, says Jewish history is a staple of Afghan history. “On one side lived the Jews; on the other side was us,” he said. “Both sides tolerated and respected each other. Our faith was never contentious between us, so it was not discussed,” he said. 

Following Their Ancestors' Footsteps Today, Jews travel to Herat’s old city to see where their ancestors lived for generations and what they left behind. "Jewish families send their children to come back and visit these sites, to meet us and revisit their roots,” Ahmad said. But many are afraid that the monuments are deteriorating due to neglect and without the proper care will erase the memory of a once-vibrant community. (It is very doubtful if these visits take place - ed)

The synagogue of Yu Aw in Herat, one of the few Jewish sites to have been restored and declared a historic site

 The synagogues of Yu Aw, Mulla Ashur, Shamail, Golkia, and Georgia, the bathhouse, cemetery, and many mud dwellings are all hanging by a thread. In the old city, three out of the five remaining synagogues have undergone some sort of preservation. Yu Aw, the largest synagogue in Herat and the only synagogue to undergo proper preservation of its original characteristics, has been declared a historic site.

 Shamail was turned into a school after repairs. The Mulla Ashur synagogue has remained in shambles without any repairs in sight because of the government’s lack of a restoration budget. And Golkia, a former place of worship for the Jewish community, has been turned into a mosque, though its architecture remains the same. Some of the graves in the Jewish cemetery have been restored with financial assistance from the Jewish diaspora.

 Like most Afghans and especially ethnic minorities in the country, Herat’s Jews were multilingual, speaking their own tongue along with the local language. They could read Hebrew and speak their version of Judeo-Persian, a dialect of the lingua franca of Afghanistan. Homayoun Ahmadi, a cultural expert in Herat, stresses the need to rebuild and restore the remnants of the Jewish community in order to better attract foreign tourists. "The existence of synagogues in Herat represents a degree of religious tolerance in Afghanistan,” he said. “It showcases that the Jews in Herat lived in harmony during many different periods in Afghanistan.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Wanted: an Egyptian-Jewish actress to play Cleopatra

The casting of ‘Wonderwoman’ Israeli actress Gal Gadot in the role of Cleopatra in a forthcoming biopic has caused a furore on social media: some would like to see an ‘Arab’ actress play the part, or even a European one, given that Cleopatra was actually of Macedonian-Greek descent. But a Jew? Never. Lyn Julius recalls the period when Jewish actresses were hoysehold names in Egypt in Jewish News: 

Gal Gadot (Jewish News)

Politics are such nowadays that Jews have had their identities recast as privileged whites with no roots in the Middle East. It’s an irony that Jews paid with their lives in World War II for not belonging to the Aryan race, and have been murdered by white supremacists in the US for not being white enough. But the current orthodoxy on campus and in the media puts Jews firmly in the white camp despite their Levantine origins. 

We have now reached the point, Seth Frantzman writes, where no Jewish actress would be acceptable, not even an Egyptian-Jewish one. Maybe, he concedes, an Egyptian-Jewish actress who had converted to Islam. Yet there was a time when Egyptian-Jewish actresses were household names. Egypt was the Hollywood of the Middle East, and their fame spread far and wide. 

There was Nagwa Salem, whose real name was Nazira Mousa Shehata. She was born in Cairo to a Lebanese-Jewish father and a Sephardi mother.

 Nijma Ibrahim was born in 1914 as Pollini Odeon. She was famous for playing female villains. She played the role of Rayya in the famous movie ‘Rayya and Sakina’. She acted in more than 40 movies, and the most significant ones were ‘The Lady of the Camellias’ and ‘I am the Past’. She passed away in 1976, and was buried in Cairo. 

There was Camelia, real name Liliane Levy Cohen, who made 18 films in the space of three years in the 1940s. Her life was tragically cut short when she was killed in a plane crash aged 31. Rumour had it that she was King Farouk’s mistress and that he engineered her death.

There was Rakia Ibrahim, real name Rachel Abraham Levy, who started life as a seamstress in Cairo’s Jewish quarter. She was known for ‘A Bullet in the Heart’ (1944), ‘The Final Solution’ (1937) and ‘Wings of the Desert ‘(1940). 

But the queen of them all was singer and film star, Leila Mourad. 

She was trained by her father, a ‘hazan’, and Dawood Hosni, also Jewish, the composer of the first operetta in the Arabic language.  He wrote two songs for Leila. Further success came when the prominent Egyptian composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab gave her a role in his film ‘Yahia el Hob’ (Viva Love!) in 1938. In the six years following the success of Y’ahia el Hob’ she made five box office hits with Jewish director Togo Mizrahi, becoming Egypt’s top actress. In 1945 she made ‘Layla Bint al-Fuqara’ (“Layla, daughter of the poor”) directed by Anwar Wagdi, whom she married shortly afterwards. She went on to make a further 20 films. 

She was selected, over the iconic singer Umm Kulthum, as the official singer of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. But as soon as the conflict erupted with Israel in 1948, all the Jewish actresses were accused of disloyalty to Egypt. According to Al-Arabiya, In the last few years prior to her death, Nijma Ibrahim suffered from mental illness, thinking that someone was seeking to assassinate her because of her Jewish origins. Rakia Ibrahim left Egypt in 1954 for the US, but she was dogged by accusations that she was a Mossad agent who had played a part in the assassination of Egyptian nuclear scientist Samira Moussa. As recently as 2014, an  Arabic newspaper carried allegations of her complicity in Moussa’s death. 
Leila Mourad

Leila Mourad converted to islam, but even she was not immune. In the 1950s a rumour surfaced that the actress and singer had visited Israel, where she had relatives, and donated money to its military. Arab radio stations boycotted her. The Egyptian government investigated but found that the charges against her were without foundation. She retired aged 38, ostensibly because Umm Kalthum had overtaken her in popularity. But one cannot discount the fact that she had never managed to shake off suspicions of her as a spy. 

Only Nagwa Salem seemed to have managed to have a successful film career into the 1960s. The price she paid was to convert to Islam. 

Not being a Muslim was a definite handicap – hence the Syrian Christian Michel Shelhoub converted to Islam – and became Omar Sharif.

 Have things changed for the better In Egypt? Hardly any Jews remain. In 2016, two actors ‘came out’, admitting to their Jewish ancestry: Basma Darwish, whose grandfather was Youssef Darwish, an anti-Zionist Communist, and Karim Kassem, who turned out to be the nephew of the present Jewish community leader, Magda Haroun.

 Could an Egyptian-Jewish actress be cast as Cleopatra today? We should put Basma Darwish forward for consideration. She would make an interesting test case.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Return of Ba'ath archives raises fears for Jewish archives

The return to Iraq from the US of the Ba'ath Party archives raises fears that the Iraqi-Jewish archive will also be returned, but the two cases are not at all similar, argues Lyn Julius in JNS News.

(October 12, 2020 / JNS) On Aug. 31, 2020, a stash of documents belonging to the era of dictator Saddam Hussein was quietly returned to Iraq. They were the Ba’ath party archives, comprising up to eight million documents and weighing 48 tons.

 The stash was first discovered shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The documents contained the highly sensitive list of names of thousands of officials of the Ba’ath party, the ultra-nationalists governing Iraq since the 1960s; party apparatchiks who were responsible for oiling the wheels of Iraq’s ruthless regime and “disappearing” dissidents. 

Soon after their discovery the documents were stored in the Baghdad home of opposition figure Kanan Makiya. But security threats made it so difficult to ensure their preservation that in 2005 Makiya persuaded the Americans to ship the archive to the United States. The files were stored at the Hoover Institute, the Conservative think tank housed at Stanford University. They were digitized and made available to U.S. researchers. 

The return of the Ba’ath party archives has raised fears among U.S. Jewish groups that it sets a bad precedent for the Iraqi Jewish archive (IJA). This collection of thousands of Jewish documents, religious books and Torah scrolls, together with random communal and personal correspondence, was seized by Saddam’s henchmen from a Baghdad synagogue in the 1980s. It was miraculously rediscovered in 2003 and sent for restoration to the United States. 

But the U.S. government signed an agreement at the time promising its return to Iraq, without stopping to inquire to whom the archive belonged or how it came to be languishing in the flooded basement of the secret police headquarters. Following a series of postponements and extensions—the latest till 2021—the U.S. State Department appears determined to return the IJA to Iraq, come what may. 

One of the oldest artefacts from the Iraqi Jewish Archive

 The whereabouts of the Ba’ath party archives have not been disclosed, as there is a risk that access to the files might result in attacks or ugly personal vendettas. Nevertheless, there is a general consensus that the Ba’ath documents constitute Iraq’s national heritage and belong in Iraq, where they might be consulted by Iraqi researchers. A first batch was returned to Iraq in 2013.

 In contrast, the Iraqi-Jewish archive is of primary interest to Iraqi Jews. It is the stolen property of a community that was persecuted and driven into exile. Indeed only four Iraqi Jews remain in the country. With most Iraqi Jews and their descendants now living in Israel, Iraq’s sworn enemy, the archive would be inaccessible to Israeli visitors or researchers. Neither, despite official assurances, would Iraq be able to guarantee the archive’s proper preservation and security. 

Not all the thousands of documents and fragments have been digitized, and it is doubtful, had they been shipped to Iraq, if recently-deciphered handwritten notes of famous 19th century rabbi the Ben Ish Hai, would have been found, transcribed and printed in two volumes of sermons or drashot. 

The difference between the Ba’ath papers and the Jewish archives is well noted by Gina Waldman, president of the California-based organization Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA:).”We, the Iraqi Jews, are glad to see that the archives of the Ba’ath party have been returned to their rightful owners: The people of Iraq. They are an essential part of their heritage and history, even the darkest chapters—this is why the Iraqi Jewish archives need to also be returned to their rightful owners: the Jews of Iraq, who no longer live in Iraq. ” 

The Hague Convention of 1954 protects the cultural property of peoples rather than states or territories, but nonetheless, the zeitgeist treats postcolonial states as the custodians of their cultural heritage, without paying much heed to the rights of persecuted minorities. Indeed the U.S. State Department has been signing dozens of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with Arab states, legitimizing the seizure of cultural property from exiled Jews and others—a trend which JIMENA is fighting with vigor. 

Jewish groups have gained the bilateral support of congressmen in their campaign to keep the Iraqi Jewish archive in the United States. Nonetheless, their options are limited. The U.S. government’s credibility could be undermined if the claimants went to law. That’s why Carole Basri, whose family has a private claim to hundreds of IJA documents, prefers a more subtle approach: she has recently made a film explaining why the archive matters to Iraqi Jews personally, to their children and grandchildren.

 If the archive is shipped back to Iraq, she declares, “There will be little hard evidence for the community to prove they ever existed in Iraq and certainly nothing to cling to for future generations.” 

Moreover, Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that no individual or community should be arbitrarily deprived of their property. It would be a travesty indeed if the injustice of the Jewish community’s ethnic cleansing from Iraq were compounded by a second injustice, dispossessing it of what rightfully belongs to it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Jews must cease to be Jews to be considered for acting roles

The casting of Israeli actress Gal Gadot in the role of Cleopatra in a forthcoming biopic has caused a furore. An array of actresses has been suggested in her place. What do they have in common? None of them can be Jews, not even Egyptian Jews, writes Seth Frantzman in the Jerusalem Post. It's a new Inquisition.

Gal Gadot: 'too white'

Even The National in the UAE critiqued the choice of Gadot. In an article about five actresses of Arab descent who could play Cleopatra, the author notes that she was actually of “Macedonia-Greek heritage.” The author notes “it also raises the theoretical question: If Gadot wasn’t in the frame, does the Arab world have stars of its own with sufficient stature to be considered for such an ambitious project?” 

 The article admits that since Cleopatra was of Greek background “the casting call could have been spread far and wide.” So why does “far and wide” never include any Jews? How about Jews from Ethiopia, from Egypt, Iraq, Kurdistan, Yemen, Morocco, Libya or Syria? 

There are millions of Jews whose ancestors were from the Middle East just one or two generations ago and who live in Israel. Why are they neglected? The message is: No Jews allowed, not those from the Middle East recently, nor those from the Middle East 1,500 years ago, nor those from southern Europe. 

Jews, alone among the world’s peoples, are basically the only people who are told they can’t play Cleopatra. Arabs? Yes. Greeks? Yes. Jews? No. Not any Jews. Not Greek Jews. Not Egyptian Jews. 

 Jews lived in Egypt long before the Arab invasion of Egypt. Nevertheless, they still can’t be considered. Jews lived in southern Europe, like some of my ancestors who lived in Odessa and would have known and even intermarried with Greeks. But still, they can’t be considered. 

They can only be considered for the role of Cleopatra if they convert to Christianity or Islam. That is the message. An Egyptian Jewish family that converted to Islam would be considered for the role. A Greek Jewish family that converted to Christianity would also be allowed to have the role. But not Jews who remain Jews. 

What does that remind us of? The Inquisition. The new Inquisition is apparently to always police the Jews. Jews are “white” when white means “privileged.” They are non-white when non-white means being sent to gas chambers. Wherever Jews are, except in Israel, they are policed for how they look, and they are always told to be the “wrong” look. Not Arab enough to be a Greek Egyptian queen from two thousand years ago. But also not Greek enough to be an Egyptian queen and also not Egyptian enough, even if their ancestors have been in Egypt 2,000 years. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Jews have always lived in the Gulf, but in small numbers

With more and more Arabs interested in the history of local Jews in the wake of the historic peace deals between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, Dr Nimrod Rafaeli  at MEMRI has compiled this useful summary,  based on a book by the Kuwaiti scholar Yusuf Ali Al-Mutairi titled A-yahud fi al-khaleej. (With thanks: Lily)

The Origins Of The Jews In The Gulf: Most of the Jews who settled in the Gulf countries, primarily in Kuwait and Bahrain, were of Iraqi origin, and many of them were seeking either to escape military conscription under the Ottoman Empire or to explore economic opportunities. Of these Jews, only a few have remained, likely only in Bahrain where the Jewish population numbers around 70. (Current estimates put the number at no more than 25 - ed)

A member of that community, Huda Nonoo, was her country's ambassador to the U.S. from 2008 to 2013 – making her the first ambassador of the Jewish faith to represent an Arab country. 

According to Al-Mutairi, Jews held important positions in Ahsaa (currently in eastern Saudi Arabia), notably the post of treasurer of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled the area through WWI. The post was held by three successive Jews – Yacoub Efendi, 1878-1879; Daoud bin Shintob ("Shintob" being an Arabicization of the Hebrew "Shemtov"), 1879-1894; and Haroun Efendi, 1895-96.[5] During their tenure, many of the entries in the financial books were in Hebrew (most likely in Arabic transliterated in Rashi script, which was commonly used by old-generation Iraqi Jews). 

Al-Mutairi suggested that keeping the financial records in Hebrew may have been aimed at preventing an audit of the accounts, possibly to protect their Ottoman superiors. But perhaps the most significant post held by a Jew was that of Director of Customs for the whole province – a highly desirable position sought after by many both inside and outside Ahsaa because of the potential it offered for illicit income. 

 The Jewish Cemetery In Ahsaa: Not long ago, a Saudi friend of the author of this article mentioned the existence of a Jewish cemetery in Ahsaa. According to this information, the land on which the cemetery was located is largely deserted, and no one has claimed it, although locals continue to refer to it as maqbarat al-yehud – "the Jewish cemetery." Given that only a few Jews lived and died in the area, the cemetery itself could not have been large. 

 The Jews In Kuwait: The Jews in Kuwait numbered between 100 and 200; they had their own synagogue, called a kanisah. A British diplomat, John Gordon Lorimer, hinted at tensions with the local authorities "chiefly for the distillation of spirituous liquors which some of the Mohammadan [Muslim] population consume secretly in dread of the Sheikh."

A Jewish Official In Muscat, Oman: Jews had been living in Muscat since at least 1625. In 1673, according to one traveler, a synagogue was being built, implying permanence. British officer James Wellsted also noted the existence of a Jewish community when he visited in the 1830s. 

The British had a letter addressed to a Jewish agent in the Gulf translated into Hebrew - presumably so that Arabs would not be able to read it (Photo: British Library)

A fascinating discovery was made not long ago in the British Library: a letter written in 1859 by a British naval officer in the Gulf, Griffith Jenkins, to a subordinate in Muscat named Hezkel ben Yosef, to whom Jenkins refers in the letter as "Agent of British Monarchy." In the letter, Jenkins refers obliquely to the Imam who held sway in Oman's interior and concludes by asking Hezkel to explain the matter in private – and then, interestingly, had the letter translated into Hebrew.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Kol Yisrael's Arabic service: lifeline to the truth

Kol Yisrael studio broadcasting in Persian

Israel radio Arabic and Persian-language services have broadcast extensively to Arab countries and Iran for decades. The clandestine radio broadcasts of Kol Yisrael in Arabic were listened to by a great many Jews living in Arab countries - and  not only Jews. In time of war or crisis  the news coming from Israel was trusted, whereas Arabic radio stations could not be relied on to tell the truth.

Oddill Dallall, whose husband was hanged by the Iraqi regime on trumped up spying charges, remembers the atmosphere in Baghdad at the time of the June 1967 Six-Day War. "All the shops and offices were closed and Jews and Arabs alike were rushing to get home safely. During the war we sat in a closed room to hear the news from Israel in Arabic, which we kept very low. But in fact if you went into the street you could hear the same broadcast playing loudly from homes of Muslims and Christians. 

"Many of them listened to the news from Israel because they would hear the real story, not the propaganda and lies that the media in the Arab countries spew out. Radio Baghdad boasted about so-called victories over Israel - fictitious. Even after Israel's victory, Radio Baghdad continued to broadcast the lies and didn't even mention the Arab defeat."

Edna Anzarut Turner, whose family fled Egypt in 1956,  recalls:  "I still remember the signature tune and the words in Arabic حنا محتة ال اسراىلً : 'This is the Voice of Israel.'

"The statics were crackling loudly, and my father and grandfather had their ears literally an inch away from the radio.

"I recall, as a little girl in Alexandria, the moment my parents and grandparents learnt about the public hangings in Iraq  ( Five Iraqi Jews were hanged between 1948 and 1952 - ed).

"They would send the servants away on wild goose errands when it was time to listen to Kol Yisrael.  I was always on guard duty outside the room where the radio was.

"I suddenly heard blood curdling yells coming from the room.  I looked inside.  My family had their head in their hands, weeping with horror.  

“Ce sont des monstres...ce sont des monstres!” my dad kept repeating.

"My dad insisted that I be told.  I was only a little girl....and although I am now a grandmother, I still remember to this day the terror, the anguish and the despair that spread all over our people in Egypt at the monstrous murder of Jewish Iraqis. What was worse was that crowds of Iraqis watched with delight and cheered as those innocent Jewish men were hanged."

Friday, October 09, 2020

UAE foreign minister pays homage to the Holocaust in Berlin

A UAE delegation visited the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin this week, Accompanied by senior Israeli and German ministers, the UAE foreign minister wrote 'never again' in the visitors' book. While it is paramount for the UAE to begin its new peaceful relationship with Israel by paying homage to the Holocaust, it is to be hoped that Israel should also introduce the Arab Emirates to the victims of Arab and Muslim antisemitism - the 850,000 Jews made refugees from Arab and Muslim countries.

“A whole group of humanity fell victim to those calling for extremism and hatred,” United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan  wrote, adding that the visit to the memorial “underscored the importance of human values such as coexistence, tolerance and accepting the other… as well as respect for all creeds and faiths. These are the values upon which my country was founded.” 

“I salute the souls of those who fell victim to the Holocaust,” Al Nahyan wrote, before quoting from a Jewish prayer translated into Arabic: “May their souls be bound up in the binds of life.” “Never again,” he wrote, in both English and in Arabic. 

Ashkenazi looked forward in his message saying the meeting “symbolizes the beginning of a new era. An era of peace between peoples. Our joint signature in the book of remembrance is like a shared cry and oath: to remember and not to forget, to be strong and to promise ‘never again.'” 

The visitors at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin (Photo: AP)

During the tour, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Al Nahyan that Ashkenazi was the child of Holocaust survivors, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said. “The Emirati minister was surprised to hear this and asked to hear more,” the ministry said. “Minister Ashkenazi told him of his roots and his father who survived a labor camp in Bulgaria in 1944 and about his immigration to Israel,” it added. 

Accompanied by Maas, the pair walked through the somber monument, a vast undulating labyrinth of more than 2,700 gray concrete blocks spread over an area equivalent to three football fields. United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan is seated for a lunch in the State Dining Room of the White House after a signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House, September 15, 2020, in Washington. 

It commemorates the slaughter of six million Jews by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime. Speaking at a press conference with the Israeli and Emirati foreign ministers later in the day, Maas said their willingness to meet in Berlin and tour the Holocaust memorial together “shows how serious you are in your efforts for good bilateral relations.” “This shows that peaceful coexistence in the Middle East is possible,” he said.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

UAE 'brokered possible Yemen-Israel deal'

Two classified documents have revealed that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) played a key role in urging Yemen to formally normalise relations with Israel 16 years ago. That ship sailed some time ago, with the outbreak of civil war and the brutal repression of Yemen's remnant Jewish community. The Aden Jewish cemetery is being razed for urban development. Some demands -  for instance, naturalisation for half the total number of Yemenite Jews - strain credulity and may be 'Iranian'black' propaganda against the Saudis. MEMO has the story: 

The razed Aden Jewish cemetery

 The first document issued on 3 March, 2004, was a letter sent from the Emirati Ambassador to Yemen at the time Hamad Saeed Al-Zaabi, to the UAE under-secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The letter stated that a delegation from the Jewish Heritage Authority had recently visited Yemen and met with several officials including President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported.

 According to the pro-Hezbollah newspaper, the delegation included Israeli Yahya Marji and Ibrahim Yahya Yacoub, a US citizen, as part of Zionist efforts to normalise relations between the Jewish state and Yemen. The delegation made several requests to Yemeni officials, including the construction of a museum of Jewish heritage in Sanaa and fencing the tomb of Al-Shabazi (one of the rabbis of the Jews of Taiz) and the Jewish cemeteries in Aden, Rada’a and the different regions where Jews lived. 

Requests were also made to grant naturalisation to 45,000 Israeli Jews and 15,000 Jewish Americans, and to build a temple and a Jewish school in Raydah. According to the Emirati ambassador: “The Jewish Heritage Authority sent a letter to the Yemeni prime minister to request the construction of the museum, while outlining the importance and reasons behind the request.” 

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Governor Newsom vetoes controversial curriculum

Jewish groups breathed a sigh of relief after California governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a controversial bill for  a model ethnic studies state school curriculum that would have excluded all ethnic groups except Arab Americans. The Los Angeles Times reports:

(Photo: LA Times)

In the summer of 2019, state education officials released a first draft of the model curriculum to intense controversy, particularly from Jewish groups, including the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, whose members objected to their lack of inclusion and a perception that the curriculum and sample lesson plans were anti-Semitic. 

After a lengthy public comment and revision process, officials issued a new draft in July, which the caucus said “addresses the most critical concerns raised by our community last year.” But when it later became clear that the curriculum would include a sample lesson on Arab Americans, many Jewish and other ethnic groups once again mobilized.

 Sarah Levin, executive director of Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, said her group supports “high-quality, rigorous ethnic studies” but wants to see the curriculum include “balance in its portrayal” of Middle Eastern communities and “equitable representation” for other groups, such as Iranian Americans, Kurdish Americans, and Mizrahi Jews. She said also that the curriculum should include a lesson plan on anti-Semitism.

 “Let’s continue improving this and getting this to the right place where we’re all content and where we all feel like we’re meaningfully included,” she said. Daniel Thigpen, a spokesman for the California Dept. of Education, said it had received at least 9,000 letters from the public on the latest curriculum draft.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

For first time, succah erected outside Dubai tower

It's the symbol of a new start for Jews in Dubai: a Succah, or booth, erected in front of Dubai's tallest tower. CBN reports:

JERUSALEM, Israel – Just weeks after signing a historic normalization agreement with Israel the United Arab Emirates erected a public sukkah outside of the world’s tallest tower in Dubai. 

 The Jewish world is currently celebrating Sukkot, commonly known as the Feast of Tabernacles. During this time, Jews build tents called sukkahs outside their homes, to commemorate the temporary dwellings the Children of Israel lived in during their 40-year journey from Egypt to the promised land.

 The public sukkah erected outside of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa tower is the first of its kind and was set up in collaboration with local Jewish and Dubai authorities.
Click here to see video 

Monday, October 05, 2020

How a Tunisian-Jewish family survived the German occupation

Tunisia came under German occupation for six months in 1942. Most able-bodied Jewish males were sent to forced labour camps and Jewish families had to shelter from nightly bombing raids. Max Galula, then a child, recalls those difficult times. (With thanks: Freddy Galula via the Musee Juif tunisien)

Soldiers of the French Foreign legion celebrating Passover at Sousse, Tunisia in 1940 (Photo: Freddy Galula) 

They say a war breaks out like a thunderbolt, suddenly. 

 Though I was a child, I could see that it was coming: Vichy's anti-Jewish measures, my father's resulting dismissal, and in particular Hitler's thunderous speeches on the radio, from 1938 on.

 Clearly we could not understand his yelling, but it made my uncle Victor say, 'we're done for'. Recently I read a story about the Vilna ghetto and found this sentence: ′′ When I switched on the radio on June 22th, a hysterical howling in German leapt out at me, like a coiled viper. " 

 The six months of German occupation were, for some unfortunates, a real drama. From Tunisia, hostages departed by plane for the death camps. (The plans for our own death camps existed, but there was no time for them to become operational). 

 How can one not mention the death of my friend's brother, Georges Mazouz? He was being seen for an orthopaedic problem at the Charles Nicole Hospital when he was picked up and pushed into a column of Jewish workers. 

 On the Internet recently one worker told us of the aftermath of this tragedy: workers took it in turns to carry the unfortunate fellow, through the rain, then the mud, for endless kilometers, until a German put a bullet in his neck. Let's not forget those who died in our villa in La Goulette either. 

 The wall chart of Europe with its small flags, sustained us; the Nazis had broken their backs in Stalingrad.  

After a few weeks, my Dad returned from his work camp. One of his companions of misfortune had a genius idea. He asked everyone to scratch their skin until they drew blood. Nothing scared the Germans more than epidemics and, hearing the words typhus and ringworm, they gathered the workers together and and sent them all home. 

We children stayed carefree yet fearful of the nightly bombardments. Hunger often tormented us and was hardly relieved by the oily doughnuts, bought after standing in a two-hour queue at five am.

 Families had been reunited. The Cacoub family, whose building was bombed, joined us at my grandmother Tubiana's , neighbours and cousins. 

 We slept on the floor, fully dressed and, as soon as the sirens went off , thirty shadowy figures pressed into the stairwell, towards the entrance of the building, which had no basement. Until the relief of the second siren, the place seemed to amplify the noise, making it seem that bombs were always falling on our heads. 

 The realisation hit me, after being buried for so many years in our unconsciousness, how serious the situation really was. 

 When the alerts were over, the memory comes back to me of our foolish game: We were watching out for the moment that Aunt Julie, who was a little snobbish but oh so elegant, even at three in the morning, would go up the stairs to spit. How we laughed at her disgusted expression when she saw the glutinous blob in the palm of her hand. 

 In our new street, there was the Protestant church in Tunis, an Anglican bookstore, with bibles in window (more about this later) , and our synagogue, which the Boublil family had set up in a laundry room, located on the terrace of a building they owned. It was a simple place but elevated by its elderly faithful, including my dear grandfather whose orthodox religion was so far removed from current practice. 

 During the major Jewish festivals, the Boublil relatives not living in our neighbourhood attended.

 Moving house actually gave me a second home - my maternal grandmother Tita's, located close to ours. Her apartment was always wide open to me( as it was to our Tubiana cousins, her neighbours). It was on the first floor of an old caravanseral. Its courtyard, prior to sheltering poor Italians, served as a stable. Her front door opened out on to a galleried space overlooking this courtyard, which became all our families' Succah (and at the end of the festival, the palm trees, rid of their dry leaves, served us as swords). .

 For me it was my observation post.

 As if in a Murnau movie; I saw an undertaker with a small coffin under his arm, with no one to accompany him (indeed, it was usual to bury a newborn baby, who had died in its first days, in a place that would remain unknown to the mother).

 I saw our neighbour Jacques leave for the army in 1940, wearing his intriguing gaiters, all gung-ho and smiling, and shortly afterwards, his widow.

 I saw an Italian girl in the yard showing us her ass.... Rounding up the Jews gave her such pleasure!

 I saw the rather silly son of the Italian shoemaker bouncing clumps of bread at the Jews' apartments, aiming at open doors in order to destroy Pesah efforts to eliminate every crumb. 

 There I saw, on the eve of the feast (of Eid al Adha) the sacrifice of the sheep.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Arab News showcases Moroccan Jews in folk costume

The Arab love affair with the Jews, kindled by the recent Abraham Accords between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, continues with coverage in Arab News, a Saudi news medium, of a photographic exhibition in Paris of Jews in Morocco in ceremonial dress taken in the 1930s. In fact, these are Jews from the Atlas mountains, and the exhibition perpetuates the  romantic,  folk image of the Jew so beloved of the news media. Not a single Jew remains in that region today.

DUBAI: The largest Jewish population that ever existed in the Arab world was in Morocco, which was home to over 250,000 Jews by the 1940s. A free photography exhibition, which runs at the Museum of the Art and History of Judaism (mahJ) in Paris until May next year, offers a rare insight into their lives there. 

“Juifs du Maroc” showcases around 60 black-and-white photographs and drawings by the late French photographer and painter Jean Besancenot, who travelled to Morocco several times and became enamored with the culture there. The images on display were photographed between 1934 and 1937. They are both intimate and a documentary-like portrayal of Morocco’s Jewish community — some of men, women and children posing in elaborate attire against a neutral background, others of people practicing daily activities of baking, brewing, and reading.

 Overall, the exhibition preserves and presents “a priceless record of rural Jewish communities in Morocco no longer in existence,” according to a statement published by the museum.

The co-curator of the show, Hannah Assouline discovered by accident that this photograph was of her father, Messoud Assouline, aged 13

Friday, October 02, 2020

Egyptian court strips Jewish site of protected status

As fast as the UAE and Bahrain are 'normalising' relations with Israel, Egypt seems to be going backwards.  A recent Supreme Court ruling bans Jewish pilgrims  from holding a January festival at the mausoleum of Rabbi Yacoub Abu Hatseira, who died at Damanhour in Egypt on his way to Eretz Israel. Egypt's commitment to respect Jewish sites sounds hollow as it removes the mausoleum from a protected list of Coptic and Islamic antiquities, a decision condemned by Magda Haroun, the  Cairo 'community''s leader. To compound the problem, Egypt has refused Israel's request to have the Rabbi's remains transferred to Jerusalem on the 'grounds that it is 'an occupied land'.  Report in Egypt Today (With thanks: Boruch): 

Rabbi Abu Hatseira

Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court on Saturday upheld a ruling issued by the Administrative Court back in December 2014 suspending annual celebrations dedicated to 19th century Jewish Rabbi Yacoub Abu Hasira in the Beheira governorate. The Supreme Administrative Court considered the appeal on its first ruling. 

The festival, previously scheduled for January 9-10, was held on the annual anniversary of Hasira’s death, who was born in Egypt and traveled to Morocco according to Jewish folklore ( Rabbi Abu Hatseira was born in Morocco and was passing through Egypt on his way to the HolyLand - ed). Alexandria’s Administrative Court issued the case’s first ruling to permanently cancel the annual celebrations, as it contravenes public morals and violates the sanctity of religious rituals. 

Israel had also submitted a request to UNESCO back in 2014 to transfer the mausoleum to Jerusalem. The court said that as Jerusalem is an occupied land Israel has no sovereignty to further impose its culture. It also refused to transfer the shrine on the grounds that Islam respects religious laws and therefore rejects exhuming graves.

 In its case papers, the court added that Hasira’s annual celebration included practices such as alcohol consumption which are contrary to Islamic morals. The court ruled that the mausoleum is an ordinary grave which holds no archaeological characteristics, and should not be included among Islamic and Coptic antiquities as Hasira was neither Christian or Muslim. 

The mausoleum

The Ministry of Antiquities had previously issued a decision in 2001 to consider the Abu Hasira mausoleum, the Jewish cemeteries around it, and the hill on which it is built, among Islamic and Coptic monuments. The court said that this decision was a grave historical error impacting Egyptian heritage. 

The upheld ruling also requires the Antiquities Minister to inform the intergovernmental committee of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to remove this mausoleum from its records of Islamic and Coptic antiquities. This comes in implementation of international convention protecting cultural and natural heritage, alongside upholding Egypt’s sovereignty as this is where the mausoleum is located. 

The court’s ruling had been met with criticism back in 2014, such as from the head of the Jewish Community in Egypt Magda Haroun.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

The Judeo-Arabic age in Tunisia lasted just 100 years

In the late 19th and first half of the  20th century some 150 Tunisian writers wrote in Judeo-Arabic (Arabic peppered with Hebrew, French and Italian words). One of the most prolific was Daniel Hagège. But the readership for Judeo-Arabic dried up, as Tunisian Jews began to master French and then Hebrew.  Fascinating article by Chen Malul in The Librarians: 

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe was produced in Judeo-Arabic translation

The story of Judeo-Arabic literature in Tunisia is one of defeat; not only because the language in which this literature was written has disappeared due to the French and Hebrew prevailing it – but because it seems that this unique literature was never given a real chance to flourish. 

 Judeo-Arabic literature lasted in Tunisia for a mere 100 years. It began in 1862, when a partnership was formed among three Jewish writers: Mordekhai Tapia, Bishi Chemama, and Eliyahu Elmaleh. Their first book printed in Tunis was called Qanun al-dawla al-tunisiyya (“The Constitution of the Tunisian State”).

 A year later, books containing folk literature began to be published. At first, they were copied by hand under the supervision of the author, storyteller, and tavern-owner, Hai Sarfati, and later at Uzan and Castro’s publishing house. In 1878, Abraham Tayyib founded the first newspaper in the country, called al-Amala al-tunisiyya (“Tunisia Province”). 

 Much of what we know about this literature we owe to the work of Daniel Hagège. Next to the French Eusèbe Vassel, Hagège (occasionally written as Ḥajjāj) is the greatest documenter of this rich literature, which consists of hundreds of original stories and translations. He was also one of the last authors to publish his works in Judeo-Arabic.

 In 1939, Hagège published a book titled Intishar al-ktayib al-yahudiyya al-berberiyya al-tunisiyya (“The Publication of Tunisian Judeo-Arabic Books”, translated into Hebrew by Joseph Tobi and Zivia Tobi, Wayne State University Press, 2014). 

Some of Hagège’s many books have vanished completely, with the only remaining traces being a few details mentioned in this text. Hagège listed the published works of the Judeo-Arabic authors alongside biographic information about their lives and literary and professional work. Intishar al-ktayib was published at Makhluf Najjar’s printing house. Thanks to this detailed bio-bibliographic list compiled by the author, we know that Judeo-Arabic literature, which emerged in Tunisia during the mid-19th century, was influenced by different elements.

 Firstly, Arabic literature; Judeo-Arabic literature was written in Arabic, peppered with Hebrew, French and Italian. Many other books and stories were translated literary classics from around the world, primarily France. These included works such as The Mysteries of Paris, Robinson Crusoe, and adaptations of One Thousand and One Nights, which drew from Antoine Gallan’s French translation. Ḥikayat Robinson Krusoi, by Daniel Defoe Before we read the work’s translation by scholars Joseph and Zivia Tobi, we assumed Hagège wrote his bio-bibliography because he wished to save this literature from vanishing into obscurity. 

In the book’s introduction, right after the acclaims – “Thanks must be given to the supreme God, the mighty and the terrible, creator of lands, with the perfection of wholeness, creator of man, and who places him above animals in understanding and language,” (translation: Joseph Tobi and Zivia Tobi, Wayne State University Press, 2014) Hagège clarified what drove him to write the book. It appears the author was quite confident that the language and its literature would last, and so he wrote: “After this, what will be set forth now is that the ‘Tunisian Arabic-Berber’ language, which our forefathers and even we ourselves have never ceased to speak to the present day, is a language like all the languages scattered all over the world. 

From the day of its creation until today it has been reinforced by a large number of learned writers, who were able to use this language, and they penned a great many literary compositions and love stories and weekly journals and even daily newspapers. We hope therefore that our historical essay will produce many benefits and will bestow esteem and honor upon our Jewish-Arabic language and renown to all the Tunisian Jewish master writers.” (Translation: Joseph Tobi and Zivia Tobi, Wayne State University Press, 2014) 

A work in Judeo-Arabic by Daniel Hagège illustrated with his picture

 Hagège estimated that some 150 Tunisian authors, all of them men, wrote in Judeo-Arabic. His compilation lists bio-bibliographic details of 17 of them, including the author himself. Hagège summarizes his work in a few self-praising sentences, followed by a list of the 30 books he published.

 “The journalist Daniel Hagège, who has written for the journal al-Najma al-waḥīda since its revival, was born in our city of Tunis on July 15, 1892. After completing his schooling, a graduate of three grades in basic studies, he began working at the printing house with the revered writer the late Ya‘aqov Ha-Cohen on the weekly al-Shams and the daily al-Ṣabaḥ. This was in 1904. On October 21, 1910, this writer was appointed chief editor of the weekly Ḥayat al-janna, which lasted for several months. On August 1, 1913, he founded a magazine called al-Nuzha al-tunisiyya (“Tunisian Pastime”), which continued to appear until the end of 1915. It was revived in 1933 when seven issues were published. 

Thereafter it closed by order of the government. In 1914 he published an important book titled Anwar tunis (“Flowers of Tunis”), which contained the account Sabab takwin ḥarb uruppa (“Causes of the Development of the European War”) and the story al-‘Ishq wa-al-ḥubb ma fihim ṭibb (“There Is No Remedy in Lust and Love”) and several stirring Arabic articles and amusing tales.” Bio-bibliographic details about Daniel Hagège, written by Hagège in Intishar al-ktayib Like many Jewish authors and journalists in Tunisia, Hagège made a living outside of literary writing and had a completely separate profession.

 The most interesting part of Hagège’s biography is his “secondary” income, which was, in fact, his main income: “And from April 1924,” writes Hagège, “He began to work for one year as a mixer of medicines at the pharmacy of the Greek opposite Sinigalia on the square. From 1926 to 1930 he worked at the Suq al-Grana with the late Rabbi Eli‘ezer Farḥi, the pharmacist famous for his wisdom in plants and essences. Afterward he himself opened a shop at 4 Sidi al-Sridek Street in Tunis. This shop became well-known to everyone, as they came to learn of its great usefulness.” (Translation: Joseph Tobi and Zivia Tobi, Wayne State University Press, 2014) 

 Daniel Hagège belonged to the last generation of Jewish Tunisian authors. He ceased writing in Judeo-Arabic in the 1940s. In his bio-bibliography, he stressed that readers did not appreciate the hard work and high expenses of publishing Judeo-Arabic newspapers and books. They preferred to loan a copy rather than buying one. “Alshari wahid w’alkari asharh,” Hagège noted, meaning: “One buys, ten read.” (Translation: Joseph Tobi and Zivia Tobi, Wayne State University Press, 2014).

 In 1959, Hagège immigrated to Paris. He died in 1976, and, in accordance with his last will and testament, the last Jewish author of Tunisia was buried in Jerusalem. An assortment of the 30 books Hagège wrote, the National Library of Israel collections The book Intishar al-ktayib al-yahudiyya al-barbariyya al-tunisiyya was translated into Hebrew and published in 2000 by Zivia and Joseph Tobi as part of their study of Judeo-Arabic Tunisian literature.