Month: January 2011

A Jewish sense of ‘deja vu’ about Egypt

No more letters from Cairo….Levana Zamir is cut off from her Egyptian friends (Maariv)

Egyptian Jews in Israel are glued to their TV screens, anxiously following events on the Cairo street. But they have a feeling they have seen it all before, Levana Zamir tells Akhikam Moshe David in the Israeli daily Maariv. Translation from the Hebrew:

The recent images of riots in Egypt are ‘deja vu’ for the Jews from Egypt in Israel, reviving sights of the streets and smells of Cairo, which can never be again what it once was. For Levana Zamir who today lives in Tel Aviv, the recent events did not come as asurprise. It is like closing a circle: She and her Vidal family suffered the anger and rage of the Egyptian population in the late Forties, now directed against wealthy Egyptians and the government.

Since Thursday she has been glued to the TV, trying to identify her remaining friends in Egypt and looking in disbelief at what is happening in her native country.

“All these days, I was thinking how proud I am of the Egyptian people,” she says. “I have friends in Egypt, but I cannot ‘phone them or send them an email, because it could do harm to them. Even in normal times Egyptian censorship makes it hard, and it certainly does now”, says Zamir, who is President of The International Organization of Jews from Egypt, and of The Israel-Egypt Friendship Association.

“When I see the flames and the looting, it is impossible not to recall what they did to the Jews. The Egyptian population in its poverty and anger lashed out at us in 1952, burning and looting Jewish businesses. Today it is doing the same thing to the Egyptian elite,” she explains. “Only this time, the hatred against Jews has been replaced by hatred against rich Egyptians”.

The Jewish community in Egypt is almost non-existent. Only a few remain. The Egyptian authorities are careful to preserve the ancient synagogues, mainly as archaeological relics. The police have stopped guarding those synagogues, and in Cairo they have been replaced by military guards. But there is still anxiety and concern lest the Great Eliahu Hanavi Synagogue, symbol of the once glorious Jewish Community of Alexandria, fall into the hands of looters.

Maariv, 31 January 2011

Murder victim’s son kidnapped in Yemen

Moshe al-Nahari pictured dancing at a wedding

Supporters of the murderer of Moshe al-Nahari, a Yemeni Jew gunned down in 2008, have kidnapped his son in order to thwart a court decision upholding the killer’s execution – and force al-Nahari’s family to accept blood money instead. Elder of Ziyon has calculated that this amounts to a derisory $25,000. (Via EoZ)

From Yemen Post(h/t Jawa Report):

“A Yemeni Jewish child was kidnapped from Reda district in Amran province on Saturday, informed source told media outlets.

Yameen Ameran Al-Nahari, 8 years, disappeared while the Jewish community was practising their religious rituals on the weekend.

Sources said that the kidnapping of the child targeted to pressure the Jewish community to forgive Abdul-Aziz Al-Abdi, who shot dead a Jewish fellow citizen, Mashaa Yehiya bin Yaeesh Al-Nahari, and accept his fine in which he will pay 5.5 million riyals.

Lately, a Yemeni court upheld a death sentence on a Muslim man after being accused of killing a Jewish citizen.”

Read post in full

Why we should fear the Muslim Brotherhood

As the Muslim Brothers stand on the threshold of seizing power in Egypt, this must-read article by Karen McQuillan in American Thinker explains how the rise of the Nazi-inspired Muslim Brotherhood perverted the course of Middle Eastern history, turning Egypt against non-Muslims and Zionism:

As we follow the unfolding story in Egypt, we are torn between hope and fear, hope that democracy will gain a toehold, fear that the fundamentalist Moslem Brothers could take control of Egypt. Perhaps you have heard the Moslem Brothers are the oldest and largest radical Islamic group, the grandfather of Hezbollah, Hamas, and al-Qaeda.

What you haven’t been told is this: the Moslem Brothers were a small, unpopular group of anti-modern fanatics unable to attract members, until they were adopted by Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich beginning in the 1930s. Under the tutelage of the Third Reich, the Brothers the modern jihadi movement, complete with a genocidal program against Jews. In the words of Matthias Kuntzel, “The significance of the Brotherhood to Islamism is comparable to that of the Bolshevik Party to communism: It was and remains to this day the ideological reference point and organizational core for all later Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda and Hamas.”

What is equally ominous for Jews and Israel is that despite Mubarak’s pragmatic co-existence with Israel for the last 30 years, every Egyptian leader from Nasser, through Sadat, to Mubarak, has enshrined Nazi Jew-hatred in mainstream Egyptian culture, out of both conviction and political calculation. Nasser, trained by Nazis as a youth, spread the genocidal conspiracy theories of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, making it a best seller throughout the Arab world. On the Ramadan following 9/11, Mubarak presided over a 30-week long TV series dramatizing the Elders and its genocidal message.

It is impossible to assess the danger posed by a takeover of Egypt today by the Moslem Brothers without knowing that Nazism launched the Brothers and is still at their core. This response to modernity and to Jews was not predetermined by Egyptian history or culture. It was Germany under Hitler that changed the course of history for Egypt and the Middle East.

How do we know all this? We know it because the Third Reich was a meticulous keeper  of records. We have the memos, the planning documents, the budgets, even photos and films of the Reich’s spectacularly success campaign, implemented by the Moslem Brothers, to turn the Middle East into a hotbed of virulent Jew-hatred. We have the minutes, the photo and the memo of understanding, when Hitler and the head of the Moslem Brothers in Palestine, the Mufti of Jerusalem, shook hands on a plan for a Final Solution in the Middle East.

We have the records of this meeting, in which Hitler and the head of the Moslem Brothers in Palestine shook hands on a Final Solution for the Middle East – years before the creation of Israel.

The Moslem Brothers helped Hitler succeed in genocide by slamming shut the door to safety in Palestine. This was a key part of the success of the Final Solution. The anti-Jewish riots in Palestine that lead the British to cave to Arab pressure and shut off Jewish escape are well known — how many of us know they were funded by Hitler? Winston Churchill protested the closing of Palestine to the Jews in the House of Commons, arguing against the appeasement of Nazi-funded Arab violence :

“So far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied till their population has increased more than even all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population. …We are now asked to submit, and this is what rankles most with me, to an agitation which is fed with foreign money and ceaselessly inflamed by Nazi and by Fascist propaganda.”

Who knows how many Jews would have escaped Hitler if the Jewish National Home in Palestine had remained open to them?

We do know that without the work of Hitler’s allies, the Moslem Brothers, many signs indicate that Israel would have been a welcome neighbor in the Middle East, but this path was closed off by Moslem Brotherhood terrorism. This is not ‘ancient history.’ According to Prime Minister Netanyahu, Yasser Arafat (born Mohammed Al-Husseini, in Cairo) adopted the name Yasser to honor the Moslem Brothers’ terror chief, who threw moderate Palestinians into pits of scorpions and snakes, eliminated the entire Nashashibi family of Jerusalem because they welcomed Jews into Palestine, and drove forty thousand Arabs into exile. The corpses of their victims would be left in the street for days, a shoe stuck in their mouth, as a lesson for any Arab who believed in tolerating a Jewish homeland. Arafat as a member of the Moslem Brothers was directly trained by Nazi officers who were invited to Egypt after the fall of Hitler in Europe.

Like the pro-democracy demonstrators out in the streets of Cairo this week, immediately after World War I, Egypt was filled with hopes for developing a modern, tolerant society. The Egyptian revolution of 1919 united the country’s Moslems, Christians and Jews around the slogan, “Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood.” The constitution of 1923 was completely secular, establishing a constitutional monarchy. It took Western democracy as a model and worked for the equal status of women. Jews were an accepted part of public life. There were Jewish members of parliament. The Zionist movement was accepted with “considerable sympathy,” because the government’s priority was to maintain good relations between the three most important religious groups – Moslems, Jews and Christian Copts. Today the Jews are gone and the Copts are viciously persecuted. But in 1919, there was even an Egyptian section of the International Zionist Organization. Its founder, Leon Castro, a Jew, was also the spokesman of the largest Egyptian political party, the Wafd, related to the largest opposition party taking part in this week’s demonstrations.

When in March 1928, the charismatic preacher Hassan al-Banna founded the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, it was a flop. It promoted world domination by Islam and the restoration of the Caliphate, focusing on a complete subjugation of women. In its first decade, the Moslem Brothers attracted only 800 members.

Then Hitler ascended to power. A branch of the Nazi party was set up in Cairo. The Egyptian government was told that if they did not begin to persecute their Jews, Germany would boycott Egyptian cotton. When the government caved and began a press campaign and discriminatory measures against Jews, they were rewarded by Germany becoming the second largest importer of Egyptian goods. The Egyptian public was impressed by the propaganda about Germany’s economic progress and impressive Nazi mass marches. The pro-fascist Young Egypt movement was founded in 1933. Abdel Nasser, later Egypt’s most famous leader, was a member and remained loyal to Nazi ideology for the rest of his career. During the war there was a popular street song in the Middle East, “Allah in heaven, Hitler on earth.”

In the 1930’s, the Third Reich poured men, money, weapons and propaganda training into the Moslem Brotherhood. It was the Reich that taught the fundamentalists to focus their anger on the Jews instead of women. By war’s end, thanks entirely to Hitler’s tutelage and direct support, the brotherhood had swelled to a million members and Jew-hatred had become central to mainstream Arab culture. Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini listened daily to the Nazi propaganda broadcast from Berlin by Moslem Brother Haj Amin al-Husseini. So did every Arab with a radio, throughout the war, as it was the most popular programming in the Middle East. Thanks to Hitler, the Moslem Brothers enshrined antisemitism as the main organizing force of Middle East politics for the next 80 years.

Egyptian society has lived in Hitler’s world of hate ever since. According to leading expert on the Third Reich’s fusion with Islamism in Egypt, Matthias Kunztel, “On this point (Jews), the entire Egyptian society has been Islamized.

Read article in full

Synagogues in Egypt are safe, but police are gone

The Eliahu Hanavi synagogue…employees have not shown up for work

As chaos and unrest rule in Egypt, Point of No Return is grateful to Yves Fedida of the Nebi Daniel Association for this update on the state of Egypt’s Jewish community and heritage.

Update to the update(with thanks Alain):

Roger Bilboul reports (31 January): ” I have spoken to both Carmen Weinstein and Ben Gaon today who inform me that everything is safe.

“Carmen Weinstein sent two of her employees yesterday to check on the synagogue in Adly Street and they were subjected to warning shots from a neighbour who is also an army officer. The employees had to prove their identity before they were allowed to go into the synagogue.

As of a couple of hours ago, there is still no security detail outside the Alexandria synagogue. The army has ring-fenced Old Cairo where the Ben Ezra synagogue is located.

*****

Yves Fedida reports (30 January): “I spoke just now (Sunday afternoon) with Mrs Weinstein, the President of the Cairo Community. She is safe and sound and indicates that army security forces have replaced the police guarding the synagogues. These remain completely locked and closed and nothing bad has befallen them.

“Earlier today Roger Bilboul (also of Nebi Daniel) and I in turn spoke to M. Ben Youssef Gaon, President of the Alexandria Community this morning.

“Here is what he told us :

“The shops along the street of the (Eliahu Hanavi) Synagogue (Nebi Daniel Street) have been looted, as have many other shops especially jewellery shops in town together with the main Alexandria Carrefour store.

“All the main police stations in downtown Alex have been torched with some burnt to the ground. Thugs are roaming the streets, now void of any police force.

“The police and their informers usually mounting a punctilious guard, 24/7, in front of the synagogue have totally disappeared. No one has so far replaced them. The Synagogue employees (gardeners, handymen, cleaning personnel, accountant and secretary) have not shown up for work.

“In a totally insecure environment, only M. Gaon and M. Abd El Nabi, the warden, are standing their ground, alone in a massive building, showing a daytime presence at least on the synagogue grounds to discourage would-be intruders.

“We should all recognise the courage it takes to be there, caring at this time.

“For its part the Nebi Daniel Association wishes to publicly acknowledge the courage and dedication of M. Abd El Nabi and M. Ben Gaon. Hopefully their action will keep our heritage out of harm’s way until reason prevails.”

How the US can help the Tunisian and other revolts

Pundit and author of Among the righteous Robert Satloff knows Tunisia well. Writing in the Washington Post he comes up with a few suggestions for how the US can help build on the Tunisian revolt which ousted long-term dictator Ben Ali (with thanks Eliyahu):

Fueled by courage and desperation, the people of Tunisia toppled their authoritarian government this month, sending a message of warning to leaders of Arab states. The citizens of some of those states, most notably Egypt and Yemen, have been studying this message and crafting their own.

In writing a book and narrating a film on what happened in Arab lands during the Holocaust, I have studied Tunisia closely over the past decade. Only 90 miles from the southern tip of Italy, this small North African country was the sole Arab state to suffer a full-fledged German occupation during World War II. I have visited the places where SS officers rounded up Jews and sent them to concentration camps.

Yet Tunisia was also where I found the most stories of Arabs protecting Jews during the war. As in Europe, these Muslim rescuers were ordinary people performing extraordinary acts – like the Tunis bathhouse owner who hid a Jewish man in his hammam or the Mahdia country squire who sheltered two dozen Jews on his farm. This moment in Tunisian history – which had a much happier ending for Jews than did events on the other side of the Mediterranean – gives hope that the current chaos will end reasonably positively.

Tunisia’s largely homogeneous population has blended a 1,400-year-old Sunni Arab identity with an organic, deeply embedded connection to Europe. Its capital once rivaled Beirut and Alexandria as the most cosmopolitan Arab city, with large communities of Italians, French, British and Maltese injecting a heady mix of energy and ideas into the local culture.

Read article in full

What next for Tunisia and its Jews? Talk by Dr Saul Zadka on 1 February in London. See Harif for details.

About

This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

One-stop blog on the Middle East's
forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.