Issam Al-Aryan, a senior official of the Muslim Brotherhood (Photo: AFP)
Senior Muslim Brotherhood official Issam Al-Aryan elicited everything from fury to bloodcurdling antisemitic threats in Egypt last week when he exhorted Egyptian Jews to returnto their country of birth; but Palestinian New York professor Joseph Massad has reacted with embarrassment that the Egyptians appear to have scored a propaganda own goal. Writing for al-Jazeera he undertakes an ugly damage-limitation exercise excoriating Egyptian Jews as disloyal and contemptuous of their Muslim neighbours. No Egyptian Jew is spared Massad’s abuse – from Cairo department store owner Cicurel ( tarred with a Zionist brush ) to writer Lucette Lagnado, for scandalously speaking of an ‘exchange of populations’ between Jewish and Arab refugees. Here’s a taste of Massad’s poison:
“The current propaganda war in Egypt about the Palestinians and about
Egyptian Jews, which was provoked by the recent pronouncements of Issam
al-Aryan, a senior leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, is nothing
but a distraction from the real problems that the country faces with
the increasing incompetence of the Morsi government and the opportunism
of his vocal opposition.
“If this propaganda war did not have major implications with regards
to Israel and US plans to undermine the Egyptian uprising and to control
its outcome so as to serve US and Israeli interests, it would be
nothing but a storm in a teacup. That it has many regional and
international implications is what produces the ongoing media frenzy in
the country and internationally.
“The statements made by al-Aryan calling on Egyptian Jews in Israel to
return home, however, are hardly novel. Indeed Egypt had already done
so under Anwar Sadat’s rule back in 1975 at the urging of the Palestine
Liberation Organisation (PLO).
Rather than unpick the professor’s lies one by one, I am reproducing a fitting rebuttal in the comments thread to Massad’s screed by Egyptian-born Jew Semsem:
am an Egyptian Jew with an EGYPTIAN PASSPORT whose family were ROBBED
and HARASSED by the Government of ABDEL GAMAL NASSER. Only 25% of the
80,000 Egyptian Jews held Egyptian nationality.
Mr Massad is a PALESTINIAN CHRISTIAN who DEHUMANISES the Egyptian
Jews and LIES about what happened to us. He is clearly an ANTISEMITE.
What happened to Egyptian Jews LIKE ME is a classic case of ETHNIC CLEANSING.
We LOVED EGYPT. We loved the EGYPT THAT NO LONGER EXISTS. We don’t love the Egypt of TODAY.
Because it was very difficult to obtain the Egyptian nationality
after 1928, the majority of Jews were STATELESS. The Jews who emigrated
to Egypt from Syria had French citizenship, a few had Italian
citizenship. A few from Iraq had British citizenship, some had
Portuguese and Spanish citizenship.
Most Jews attended French schools and in the 1950s British schools.
However the KARAITE Jews who numbered 5,000 sent their children to
Arabic language schools.
But the MAJORITY of Egyptian Jews were STATELESS. So Mr Massad GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT.
In 1850 there were only 5,000 Jews in Egypt. The reason was that in
the 1300s they were forced to convert to Islam. So they fled. In the
1300s they took with them a 500 page handwritten Bible which was written
in the years 900 to Aleppo.It was smuggled out of Syria to Israel in
the 1950s. It is now on view in Jerusalem next to the Dead Sea Scrolls
in Jerusalem. A Syrian mob nearly destroyed the whole Bible in 1947 when
they attacked the synagogue it was in.
In the 1500s they were threatened with Death so again they fled.
Around 1870 when Ismael the Great ruled Egypt he industrialised the
country. My family emigrated to Egypt from Iraq. Many Jews also arrived
in Egypt from Italy, Greece and Turkey. My family obtained Egyptian
citizenship in 1919.
We were stripped of our Egyptian nationality in 1959. But I still have my Egyptian passport which is USELESS.
The majority of Jews in Egypt were Spanish / Sephardic Jews who spoke Ladino.
In 1948, 25% or 20,000 of Egyptian Jews left the country. The majority fled because:
1. 70 Jews in the Jewish Quarter were murdered in bomb attacks planted by the Muslim Brotherhood.
2. 2,000 Jewish men were arrested and jailed for one year at the El Tur prison camp in the Sinai.
3. Jews could not get jobs so the young had no future.
A few, maybe 10% were committed Zionists who opted to live in Israel.
In 1956 though my family were EGYPTIAN CITIZENS, (we were NOT BRITISH
OR FRENCH) our properties were EXPROPRIATED and my father’s THRIVING
TEXTILE / COTTON COMPANY.
Businesses belonging to BRITISH and FRENCH were also expropriated as
Britain and France attacked Egypt in 1956. But also the businesses
belonging to ALL JEWS; EGYPTIAN and STATELESS or Italian or Greek
ALL JEWS. Period.
By 1961 95% of Egyptian Jews had FLED THE COUNTRY.There were only about 4,000 left.
In 1967 all Jews were FIRED FROM THEIR JOBS including my father’s cousin who worked at the CICUREL Department Store.
All Jewish males between the ages of 16 and 65 were arrested and JAILED FOR 3 YEARS.
Israel NEVER ENCOURAGED EGYPTIAN JEWS TO FLEE TO ISRAEL.
In 1954 4 Jewish teenagers from Alexandria were hired by Mr Lavon
from the Mossad to plant bombs in Cairo. They were not trained and
fortunately they were caught in time.
3 of the boys were hung. Mr Lavon WAS FIRED FROM HIS JOB and FORCED TO RETIRE IN DISGRACE.
Lastly Jews from Arab countries are NOT ARABS. We are SEMITES.
Egyptian COPTS ARE NOT ARABS and LEBANESE CHRISTIANS ARE NOT ARABS.
IRAQI CHRISTIANS ARE NOT ARABS.
There is nothing wrong in being Arab but get your FACTS RIGHT.
To imply that Egyptian Jews looked down on fellow Egyptians and felt that they SMELLED IS A DISGUSTING LIE.
Even those who did not have Egyptian citizenship considered
themselves EGYPTIANS and LOVED OUR COUNTRY. We were part of Egyptian
society. The Minister of Finance in the 1930s was a JEW and Jews like my
grandfather participated in the REVOLUTION of 1919.
Only an antisemite like you Mr Masad could DEHUMANISE JEWS and imply that we were RACISTS against our fellow Egyptian brothers.
Lastly in regards to your accusation that Egyptian Jews were DISLOYAL that also is a LIE. 99.9% were LOYAL.
However yes WE WERE AGAINST EGYPT ATTACKING ISRAEL IN 1948. We wanted PARTITION. 2 States.
And WE WERE RIGHT. Had you accepted Partition in 1948 there would have been a Palestinian State now with no refugees.
Also you LIE when you say we were INVITED TO RETURN and that we would receive COMPENSATION.
If we were to return we would be LYNCHED.
And why are only Egyptian Jews in Israel being invited back? Only 40%
went to Israel. What about the 60% who fled to Switzerland, France,
Britain, Brazil, Canada, USA and Australia?
My cousin applied to GET HIS EGYPTIAN PASSPORT BACK AND WAS REFUSED.