If there is one thing Jewish refugee Rachel Wahba (pictured) does not want to do – it is return to Egypt. Her ancestors were Egyptian from time immemorial, Yet her family was expelled as stateless. Here’s an extract of her passionate piece in The Times of Israel :
They wanted us out. We are out. But still, we have to listen to Morsi’s slurs about how the Jews control the press.
When Egyptian Jews heard al-Erian’s call, we
asked “Return? Return to what?” Our old homes and businesses? An Egypt
not busy burning Coptic Christian Churches, as they are today? An Egypt
not under curfew and martial law, like Morsi has imposed on it?
We didn’t leave with our stuff. We left penniless with one suitcase of clothing.
Adding insult to injury after stealing
(“confiscating”) our property, be it meager or worth millions, we were
asked to sign papers promising never to return. Where on the face of the
earth were we supposed to go after they kicked us out of our native
homeland and took away our identity?
In my family, we lost everything including our nationality.
“We Wahbas were ‘real’ Egyptians,” my dad
would say proudly, although not without anger. The Wahbas didn’t come
from Spain, Syria, Turkey or anywhere else but Egypt. We never had
foreign passports because Egypt was our home for thousands of years. My
dad, Moussa Wahba had an Egyptian passport and I, as a two-year-old was
on his passport. For the first two years of my life, I too was Egyptian.
For his whole life he never needed a passport. He was Egyptian. Suddenly he was stateless and forced to leave his own country.
I never understood my father’s pride in being
Egyptian. He loved his Egypt, but I only saw it from the other side, the
side of statelessness and suffering and waiting in Japan for 20 years
to emigrate to the United States after his passport was cancelled in
We are still gone. Out of Egypt. The “real” Egyptians like the Wahbas who were there before Islam and all the rest of us. Gone.
A scene from the 1954 film celebrating Egyptian coexistence: Hassan, Cohen and Morcos (courstesy JIMENA)