Monday, December 24, 2007

My traumatic flight from Egypt, by Bat Ye'or

This moving interview was given by the well-known writer and expert in 'dhimmitude' Bat Yeor, to the Italian website Lisistra. (With thanks: Eliyahu, via

"I was born to an Italian-Jewish family which moved to Cairo a long time ago. My mother was French, her father was French and her mother British. I grew up in these three cultures. After Mussolini brought in all his racist laws, my father chose Egyptian nationality which was introduced after the dissolution of the Ottoman empire and Egyptian independence in 1922. He was able to obtain Egyptian nationality because the last Ottoman sultan had conferred on my grandfather the title 'Bey'.

Having become Egyptian my father was deprived of his Italian nationality, as was his wife and children. My mother therefore took out the children from an Italian school and registered them in a French school.

The conditions of our departure were draconian. My parents lost their Egyptian nationality. Mine was already removed in 1955 when Zionism was denounced. We were forced to sign that we renounced all our possessions in Egypt and to certify that we would never return. We could only take with us two cases and fifty pounds sterling. Every document was checked by the police. I was forced to burn everything I had ever written since my childhood. It was like dying - the end of a way of life that soon would no longer exist. We emptied the apartment and we left one night in a cart for fear of being arrested. At the airport, they threw our suitcases to the ground and destroyed all our clothes. We were thoroughly searched and my fifty pounds sterling were confiscated. The police decided to do this two hours before letting us leave.

We arrived in London where I had a sister whose Brtish husband had been expelled. We lived precariously, practically without money. We were like bankrupts in a city of 10 million, stateless and destitute. We didn't know a soul. My father was very ill, and to cap it all, my mother broke her foot.

The Jewish community in London had organised a support group for the Jewish refugees from Egypt.Thus people we did not know were selflessly offering to help us. At that moment I understood my role with pride and gratitude: I belonged to the Jewish people, to Israel, to that people made up of refugees who like us had been persecuted, hunted down, disposessed and humiliated. Finally I knew who I was: I had an identity whose value and meaning I understood. I belonged to a people who had helped me when I had nothing."

Read post in full (Italian)

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