Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cancellation of Egyptian roots trip - update

As 45 Egyptian Jews nurse their disappointment over the cancellation of their 'roots trip' to Egypt, there are questions over the role of the Cairo Jewish community, headed by Mrs Carmen Weinstein, in sabotaging it. Did Mrs Weinstein fear that her authority was being challenged? Was she in cahoots with Amr Adib, the populist broadcaster who first made the false accusations against the visitors? In any event it seems that Mrs Weinstein suffers from a terminal case of arch-dhimmitude.

Just before the trip was due to take place, the The Jewish Community Council in Cairo had printed the following statement in their journal Bassatine News, disassociating themselves vigorously from it.

Now Levana Zamir, the trip organiser and President of the Israel-Egypt Friendship Association, has issued the following reply:

"In spite of that announcement, a nice, international group of Jews of Egypt had formed, paid for registration, accomodation, etc., and the Alexandria Jewish Community wrote to welcome us for a prayer at Eliahu Hanabi Synagogue in Alexandria.

But as you know, because of false rumours about our coming to claim our properties, at the last moment the Marriott Hotel cancelled the group's block booking. This was followed by an epidemic of refusals to accommodate us by other Cairo hotels, and to the cancelling of our Tour.


"As for Carmen Weinstein's announcement rejecting the group, it makes one wonder about the connection between Weinstein and Amor Adib, the TV reporter who spread the false rumours.

"This does not lessen the dreadful and unjustified reaction of the Marriott hotel and other Egyptian parties, leading to the brutal cancellation. Without them, the cancellation could not have happened.

"We all know that our trip's aim was not to make claims, but even if we were coming to talk about those property claims - SO WHAT !"

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

AT this hour, I would have been visiting Alexandria with my 44 fellow pilgrims on this
unique, but lost, opportunity to go back to the land of not only my birth but that of all my family for three generations.
I had vowed never to go back but then a contagious enthusiasm struck me:
Imagine! what a wonderful opportunity to put away the past and look towards the future.
The sound of peace is in the air and who was I not to be a share of it, however small it would be.And i too would be making my personal peace with Egypt.
I gathered my notes for my presentation on "The folkways and Mores of Egyptian Jews 50 Years Ao", read and re-read them and drew a trememdous energy from that.
Then the first shot was fired: our beautiful Synagogue Shaar Hashamaim was out of bounds with no specific reason given.
My house was just behind that Synagogue and I cannot count the times we went there for weddings milas, bar mitzvas., Purim, Blessing of the first born, Pessah and its Shofar...
A few days later the second shot was fired. this time a mortal one, killing our hope and our dreams!
How despicable can some be? In what way could this group take away from the almighty power of some? Hitting below the belt in boxing is forbidden, but under the cover of anonymity a lot of harm has been done, not only to our group but to us all as Jews.
It is so easy to slander. But i trust in fate and know that one day or other we have to account for everything!!!
Sultana Latifa (Sultana Suzy Vidal)

Anonymous said...

Dear Sultana, nothing is in vain. It is sufficient that Andrew Baker, head of the American Jewish Committee, could read this. As the one who funded the Shaar Hashamayim renovation, and is planning to establish the Museum of the Jews of Egypt in Cairo, he will surely not be glad while reading Ms Carmen Weinstein statement in her website Bassatine News, when she is rejecting a whole group of Jews of Egypt from visiting Shaar Hashamayim. Andrew Baker, please think twice before you do that.

Elioz Antebi Hefer, Dr. M.D. B.Sc. M.P.H. said...

I am shocked and sorry to read the news brought by the contents of this article.
This tour arrangement seemed to be most nostalgic and pure idea of egypt jews wish to visit their motherland one more time. Although we were all awere of the unfreindly attitude of the high social economic groups of Egypt , I have never guessed that it would lead to a practical refusal to accept Israeli tourists.
It is even more regretable that jews fight against each other out of jelous motives. We should never forget what our ancestors have always claimed :
בגלל שנאת חינם נחרב בית המקדש
Elioz Antebi Hefer

Anonymous said...

Since the peace agreement, I visited Egypt twice with my husband, but this time I was going there with my 2 sisters. It would have been their first visit since we left Cairo in 1967. We planned this trip for weeks and were so excited to be able to see our neighbourhood, visit the schools we went to, the synagogues and especially Sha'ar Shamayim, where all the weddings and happy ceremonies took place.

But then, few days before our departure, we were shocked to know the trip was cancelled. I read the article in the egyptian paper Masrawy's website including the comments and was appalled by the intensity of hatred among the egyptian people. Some said they would expect us at the airport with explosive belts, another would slaughter us with his own hands, and some suggested we should be brought to justice, accused of betrayal, and sentenced to death...Thank God all this happened BEFORE our departure to Cairo!

If Mrs Weinstein is behind all this, how can she endanger like that the lives of 45 of her own people??? but then, she must have forgotten she is a jew!

Anonymous said...

From Cecilia
J'écris en français, le seul héritage que j'ai gardé de ma naissance égyptienne. Je n'avais que 3 ans quand j'ai été expulsée, en 1949, avec ma famille. Donc mes souvenirs ne portent que sur les récits sur cette sorte de Austria Felix qu'a représenté l'Egypte pour beaucoup de Juifs. J'ai passé toute ma ve en Italie et depuis quatre ans fait mon alyia avec ma famille. Je n'ai jamas eu de nostalgie ni de regrets. Quand j'ai su par Levana du voyage, j'ai convaincu mon mari à y prendre part, curieuse de voir si, par le moyen de la mémoire involontaire, je pourrais faire remonter de ma conscience qualques souvenirs. L'annulation du voyage m'empêche de vérifier. Je sais que je pourrais entrer en Egypte facilement avec mon passeport italien. Mais je n'ai aucune intention de dissimuler mon identité juive ou israélienne. C'est la deuxième fois que l'Egypte me repousse. Il n'y aura pas une troisième. Le Pyramides peuvent attendre.
Cecilia

Anonymous said...

There is a saying isn't there, el eedo fel maya mesh zy el eedo fel nar. The one who has his hand in the water is not like the one who has his hand in the fire. It is easy to criticise Carmen when you're living your safe secure lives, except you do not know what it is like for her to live there. The anti jewish sentiment in egypt is at a peak point and for her to appear to align herself with a group of people who were possibly coming to stir up trouble, as rumours went, would have very possibly endangered her own life. Think of her position before you malign her. If you were in her position, I expect you would've done the very same thing. Don't malign her.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous, I will answer to you by another Egyptian saying: MA HADESH DARAB'HA 'ALA IDHA to stay in Egypt. She could have been leaving, as all of us did. But some people are more affraid from the GHORBA (the unknown) than the despising life they are leaving in. All of us, except a very-very few, choose the REAL FREE LIFE, and it could be quite frustrating not being able to do that.
But this cannot yet justify Ms. Weinstein statement in Bassatine News. Only SON'EY 'AM ISRAEL could do this.

Anonymous said...

mira, your point has nothing to do with what i said. You reply by saying that it's her fault for staying in egypt. The discussion here isn't why Carmen never emigraged but why she felt she was unable to encourage this trip. It has nothing to do with why she did not leave egypt. I have great respect for her. She has chosen to live in Egypt which i think is more courageous and hard than emigrating. for sure her life must be harder than any diaspora jew. At least you may now be accepted by your local community and never fear for your life- her life is quite different to yours. Don't judge people until you've walked a mile in their shoes. I think it's your duty to provide her with your support not to malign her on this blog. Shame on you for acting like spoilt kids because you couldn't get your holiday trip, instead of being concerned for the welfare of your own.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous, I am joining Mira, because it is clear which side you are. But how could you agree with the way Ms. Weinstein dealt with the problem, through her Bassatine News Statement, attacking and insulting the organizers, not answering to their emails and to emails some of the group sent to her. Please, have a look at Bassatine News, because it is still there, making one wonder what is her connection with Amor Adib. There are other courageous and honorabe ways to get to her point. Her way did a lot of harm not only to the members of the group, but to the travel agent, the hotels, the Israeli public, and to the Israel-Egypt relationship. Many groups from Israel are going every week to Egypt, and she doesnt care. Dont you understand she is doing that only to the Jews of Egypt all over the world, just fearing they are coming to take her BABIES, i.e. her Synagogues, Cemeteries, etc. This group did not want that.

Anonymous said...

david, take her babies? what are you going on about? don't tell me she prevented you from coming because she thought that you were going to physcially take apart Adly synagogue and take it back to the states with you or something. i'd hasten to add that she doesn't own any of this and you'd have to go through the proper official channels if you wanted to take any babies out-ridiculous.

ex egyptian jews have made journeys in the past before to revisit their roots that were never hindered such as at the time of the centennial of Adly street synagogue. it's really not the end of the world.

It is you people who are acting like babies- grow up and realise that the world does not revolve around your pleasure.

Anonymous said...

I WAS VERY DISAPPOINTED WHEN I GOT THE CALL THAT MY LONG AWAITED TRIP TO EGYPT WAS CANCELLED. I HAVE BEEN WAITING MANY YEARS FOR THE RIGHT TIME TO GO AND SEE MY FOR MYSELF WHAT I HAVE ONLY HEARD FOR MANY YEARS. MY DREAM IS TO SEE WHERE MY FATHER WAS BORN, HIS HOME, SINCE ITS STILL STANDING IN CAIRO AND ALL OF MY HERITAGE. IT WAS A DREAM COME TRUE TO FINALLY BE ABLE TO SEE EGYPT AND MAYBE FIND MY GRANDFATHERS GRAVE. MY PARENTS AND OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE BEEN BACK A FEW TIMES BUT NOW THEY ARE ALL OLD AND CANNOT GO WITH ME TO SHOW ME AROUND, SO THIS WAS MY CHANCE TO GO AND SEE BUT I GUESS WHEN THE TIME WILL BE RIGHT IT WILL HAPPEN. I BELIEVE THAT IT ALL COMES FROM ABOVE AND IF I AM MEANT TO SEE EGYPT I WILL. I AM ONLY SORRY TO HEAR THAT THE RUMERS STARTED HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH OUR OWN PEOPLE.

Anonymous said...

as for how she communicated with you, that's really not something i can comment on since i do not know the whole story, but you know what it could very well be linked to her position.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous (11:36am, may 30, 2008)

You say Mrs Weinstein could not align herself with our group because this would endanger her life. But this contradicts what she writes in her statement at bassatine news: "As it has in the past and continues presently to welcome visitors from the region and from abroad, the JCC is always happy ....." So, how come only our group was not welcome and would endanger her life?!!!

Anonymous said...

I just read in WOMEN'S LENS Blog, that Carmen Weinstein is now in Israel, enjoying our beautiful Zionist country, while she did not let us visit our Holly Shaar Hashamayim Synagogue.
Dear Anonymous, just have a look at WOMEN'S LENS.

Unknown said...

I do not understand those who were disappointed,shocked or offended by the Egyptian attitude. It was expected and written in big block letters on all walls.
This so-called "roots" trip, under the present conditions, should have never been planned or come to effect at the first place.
All Egyptians brain washing is against Israel, Israelis and Jews. Had they wished so, during the decades from the so-called "peace" making with Israel, the brain washing should have had posiive trends. But no, this does not suit their aims.
Even today,the Egyptian leaders are powerful enough to stop similar behaviours as the ones adopted by the Marriot and other tourism bodies. They chose to take no action.
Israelis run to Egypt and spend their money in a hostile country.Egyptian tourism to Israel never existed. Anybody asked why?
I was born in Egypt and lived there for 18 years. I have no plans to step on it's soil until a real change occurs in the Egyptian behaviour and mentality.
Moni

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 8:00 AM, May 31, 2008

read anonymous comment 11:36 AM, May 30, 2008 as an answer to your question.

Anonymous said...

"History will judge the role of Cairo Jewish community president Russo and his successors, the Weinstein mother and daughter team, in the disappearance of artifacts from the Cairo Jewish community. Mrs. Weinstein's behavior is atrocious. She's part of the ugly phenomenon of Jewish diaspora leaders who donate their time in order to take as opposed to giving. She has antagonized hundreds, if not thousands, of former Egyptian Jews and their heirs, who enquire into their background and want to contribute to the prepetuation of the heritage of Sephardic and Egyptian Jewry."

Shalom,

Yitzchak Kerem

Historian of Sephardic Jewry

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Anonymous said...

To Mrs. Weinstein

I think it's about time you delete your statement at bassatine news. Today is June 5th and...the trip was cancelled, don't you know?

Anonymous said...

Despite the fact that the JCC refused to have any connection with our group, and we were denied access tom Sha'ar Shamayim Synagogue, we were all very exited to go on this trip.

Our trip is cancelled and the disappointment is great. But when I read that Mrs. Weinstein was in Israel and gave a presentation on the 25th anniversary of the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo ,I wonder .......Isn't this called HYPOCRISY?????

Anonymous said...

I was not participating in this trip but my wife was, and when I saw Amr Adib's video on youtube, I felt an obligation to respond and sent him a comment in arabic on this site:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8PEsRNbnIQ
I will also send a more detailed comment to his program's e-mail. Let's see if he will respond.
Dr.S.W.

suzy pirotte vidal said...

here i am again (Sultana).
A lot of water has passed under the Kasr el Nil bridge. And as time goes by i am so pleased not to have gone back to Egypt.
God was watching over us.
I am 73 now and am convinced I shall never go back there!
Sultana Vidal