Al-Aryan resigns: not necessarily a good sign

 Issam al-Aryan (photo: AP)

Issam al-Aryan, the senior Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood official who ‘invited’ Egyptian Jews now living in Israel to return to their country of birth,  has been forced to resign* after a firestorm of controversy.

Islamic Jihad threatened tokill Jewsif they so much as dared to take al-Aryan’s offer up.

Al Aryan’s forced departure is not a good sign: it means that Egypt is not ready to discuss its Jews, to admit that a moral injustice was committed against them, or to acknowledge that Egyptian Jews have certain rights.

One Palestinian critic, New York professor Joseph Massad, whose screed for al-Jazeera is ably refuted by Shayna Zamkanei, dismisses al-Aryan’s invitation as a propaganda ploy and a distraction from Egypt’s real problems. He then goes on to denigrate the character of Egyptian Jews  and deny that they were expelled.

Another critic, Khaled Fahmy, reproaches al-Arian for ‘rewarding’ the ‘Zionist’ Egyptian Jews in Israel with an offer to return while ignoring the 60 percent of Egyptian Jews who did not flee to Israel. In a dig on the Muslim Brotherhood, he claims that the proposed new Egyptian constitution would not give Jews any more rights than they had under the Ottoman millet system.

One Jew is not sorry to see al-Aryan resign, however: Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League. What Foxman had to say what seized on by Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada as proof that Foxman is denying ‘Arab Jews their rights’. What Foxman was really objecting to, however, was al-Aryan’s defamation of Israel – his declaration that it ‘will cease to exist in the near future.’

One Cairo-born Jew,Azi Nagar, ridiculed al-Aryan’s invitation, asking when he would receive compensation for his old house, and whether if he returned he would have to live in Cairo ‘s cemeteries along with a million homeless Egyptians. 

In this whole morass, however, nobody seems to have asked Egyptian Jews in general what they think. Most probably they are thanking their lucky stars that they no longer live in the cesspool of anti-Jewish hatred that is Egypt today.

Call for Jews to return to Egypt sparks debate 

*The official reason given is that al-Aryan will be devoting his time to the Shura Council, whose job is to oversee the new constitution.

One Comment

  • No matter how one looks at this Al-Aryan’s benevolent proposal one is struck by the overwhelming anti-Jewish stance. Nobody questioned why he would propose such a thing: The right of return to all Egyptian Jews who were expelled from Egypt. Whow! What a daring proposal coming from a Muslim politician. Everybody was swept by this media frenzy hype of such proposal. I guess it was “news” because it emanated from a politician of the newly elected Egyptian president.

    It seems like nobody wanted to know why he proposed such a “blunder”. Either people do not understand Arabic or journalists did not want to translate clearly his reason because they wanted to let it go to see how long this “false controversy” would last and see their media audiences get “news” entertained. I believe that the mass media plays on this, for whatever time they can extend it, regardless of the seriousness of the matter or its entertainment value.

    If one knows Arabic and heard the entire interview, one would have understood clearly the reason why he proposed such a “nice” thing. Arab politicians are not known to be sophisticated in their policy claims to solve problems. They say things they want to do quite clearly and at face value. They do not resort to analogies, nor extended paraphrasing, nor analytical conceptual jargon to hide deep seated ideologies. Why we gave this nut head so much of our readership is beyond me. I heard his entire discourse of the “famed” proposal which made him famous in the eyes of naïve politically correct liberals and an apostate in the eyes of the illiterate Arab masses. I learned that he proposed the Egyptian Jews to return to Egypt “IN ORDER TO MAKE WAY FOR THE PALESTINIANS REFUGEES TO RETURN TO THEIR HOMES IN ISRAEL”….. (I am quoting his words and it is in the transcript, although I question the translation, it was not accurate). The words are clear. I stopped even thinking about this because it made me mad. I thought it is going to be a dead issue. But I guess I was wrong. The social media is so eager to go with ANYTHING that seem to be audience attention grabber and as politically worthy. It is like a game of sort. Let run this story and see what reactions emerge. Everybody falls into the trap. And after a few weeks, everything goes no normal as if nothing happened. What a waste..

    No matter what “hidden” reasons lay behind Al-Aryan’s reason to advocate the return of the Egyptians Jews to Egypt, it is all the same recurring anti-Jewish stance as I have claimed in my first sentence. A return “to make way for the Palestinians to go home…” Return to what? High rise expensive condos and major infrastructure and highways in Israel, with dilapidated and destroyed former Jewish homes and gardens in Alexandria, Cairo, and Fustan…

    One Jewish refugee did not believe it because he was not sure if he would be compensated. This was about compensation. It was a simple population swap, as if it can be done so easily just like that. Remember Arab politicians are not sophisticated in their social analysis of major problems. For them any “simple problem” has an easy “solution” a la sharia law. I would have suggested to my fellow Jewish refugee to spare his words from being wasted.

    I am still wondering why some of us Jewish people who have lived in Arab lands still hope to get anything back from the people who treated us with disdain, hatred and instill fear in us. I believe that we should stop hoping for any “real change” in the outlook of Arabs toward us. Individually “maybe”, just as a group, let us forget about it and move on. And let us not waste our time and energy on triviality of benevolent political proposals that seem pro-jewish … because when you peel the layers, it is all the same old story. As for this Al-Aryan case, one did not have to even peel anything, let alone layers of relevant political proposal. It was for all to see… “to make space for the Palestinians to return” God help us..


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