Scandal of Egyptian-Jewish visit cancellation grows

Did the Marriott hotel Cairo connive with the Egyptian authorities in their decision to cancel the Egyptian-Jewish conference/roots visit to Cairo, which had been due to begin today? The scandal reeks to high heaven and is now getting headlines in the Israeli press. Report in the Jerusalem Post (With thanks: Lily, Yitzhak S)

“According to a report Friday on the Web site of Yedioth Aharanot newspaper, the Marriott Hotel in Cairo, where the delegation had originally booked their rooms, cancelled their reservations and said they could not accomodate them because of the situation.

“Nadia al-Ansari, the Marriott’s director of sales and marketing, would only say the delegation no longer planned to stay at their hotel.

“The only information we are actually giving out about this group is basically that it is no longer confirmed with us, they are not staying with us,” she said.

“Dr. Gabriel Rosenbaum, director of the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo who was scheduled to give a lecture to the delegation, said the whole event was grossly mispresented in the Egyptian media as a conference rather than just a visit.

“The average age of these people was between 70 and 80, not all of them in good health condition,” he said. “Before they die, they just wanted to come see Egypt, to see the synagogues, to see maybe the tombs of their fathers and then go away.”

“He said that plenty of tourists, students and other delegations from Israel have visited Egypt and his center in the past without any incident.

“Israel and Egypt signed a peace agreement in 1979, but a steady campaign against the “normalization” of cultural and social relations by many intellectuals, journalists and others has prevented relations from warming.

“The relationship’s “constant ups and downs are mainly just in the press and sometimes with the authorities,” said Rosenbaum, describing the current time as a low point with the press.”

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Haaretz article

Curiouser and curiouser …. Did Cairo Jews stymie the trip?

Tour organiser Levana Zamir thinks so (Jerusalem Post – with thanks: Lily):

Members of Cairo’s Jewish community may have prevented 45 Israeli Jews of Egyptian descent from touring the country, the president of the Israeli Egyptian Friendship Association said Sunday.

Levana Zamir said she had planned a four-day trip to Cairo and Alexandria beginning this past weekend for 45 elderly Israelis.

The group was planning on praying in Cairo and Alexandria synagogues and visiting the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo.

But after reports in the Egyptian media and on Bassatine News, an Egyptian Jewish community Web site, that claimed the group would try to reclaim their ancestors’ property, a wave of protest began, leading to the cancellation of the trip by Egyptian authorities.

“Both the Cairo JCC [Jewish Community Center] board and its members refuse to have anything to do with this pseudo Congress,” read a posting on the site, apparently confusing the Friendship Association with a different organization.

According to Zamir, members of the Cairo Jewish community had refused to allow the group entrance to Shaar Hashamayim Synagogue, without which the group could not get the required security and permits from the Egyptian government.

“Without this confirmation from the Jewish Community of Alexandria or Cairo to the Egyptian security authorities, there is no entrance for any group at one of the synagogues,” she said.

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  • Though i do not consider myself as “elderly” being a youngish 72-year old, I am writing as one of these who had everything ready, even Egyptian £s bought at the bank to pay for a taxi when arriving in Cairo etc and surely a good old ahwa mazbout!
    It was a terrible disappointment though at the onset I feared going back to that country “that pushed us out giving us a hand”
    I had finally believed that we would be welcomed there as long lost sons and daughters. But why believe that feelings have changed from the Egyptian side. Did they not always have a fierce negative rejection of these Yehud?
    But I wanted to believe in friendship!
    Now all I have left of that failed trip an unpaid bill by The Lourdes Travel Agency. But capara if it’s only that. What if one of us had been arrested? If you think of it, we were lucky after all only losing money but as a counterpart now safe in our countries of adoption!
    Sultana Vidal


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