Month: September 2014

Calling all Maserati Jews!

 With thanks: Hilary, Michelle and Lily

Calling all Maserati Jews.

Tomorrow night the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Committee (SPSC) will be telling the truth about you –  Jewish refugees from Arab countries. 

(Maserati Jews? That’s how Annie Robbins, editor-at-large of the anti-Zionist blog Mondoweiss, in her infinite wisdom, calls Mizrahi Jews. Or does she mean  Masorti Jews? Or a combination of the two. Anyway, you know who you are. You’ re not the Aston Martin and Ferrari Jews! Despite all your valiant attempts to keep up flashy appearances, you’re the ‘marginalised and invisible Jews of colour’).

The SPSC is visibly rattled by an episode that took place last May and is striving to do something about it. According to (another SPSC activist) Mick Napier:

“Scottish Government Minister Humza Yousaf
spoke to a meeting in Glasgow in May of this year. The Jewish Telegraph
reported that Zionists ‘informed’ him that “Israel’s War of Independence
had created around 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries”
and that “Mr Yousaf…admitted that he had been unaware that there were
so many Jewish refugees in 1948”. 

Napier goes on:

“The Zionist claim conceals what Ben
Gurion called “cruel Zionism”, the violent effort by the Zionist
underground in Iraq and Egypt to force the exodus of Jews who were
proving resistant to the lure of Zionism. Thirty five years after Marion
Woolfson treated this subject, Zionists still make strenuous efforts to
keep the history inaccessible. This will be one of the themes discussed
in Glasgow on Wednesday night at the Commemorationof Marion Woolfson’s
life and work, dedicated to the debunking of perncious (sic) Zionist myths.
Come along.”

  Marion Woolfson, who died exactly two years ago, wrote a book called Prophets of Babylon: Jews in the Arab World.

Point of No Return sought a copy of Woolfson’s magnum opus, but was not willing to shell out over £2,000 for the only new copy still available on this planet at Amazon.

We can guess the gist of it. In her book Woolfson blames Zionism itself for causing the mass exodus of Jews from Arab countries. Until Zionism brutally intervened, Jews were happily and peacefully coexisting with Muslims. 

Marion Woolfson is in good anti-Zionist company. In his book The Gun & the Olive Branch, David Hirst describes
in detail covert Israeli operations to scare Iraqi and Egyptian Jews
into fleeing their homes for the “sanctuary” of Israel. Wilbur Crane
Eveland, a former CIA operative, wrote about the ‘Zionist crimes’
against Arab Jews in Iraq (Feuerlicht, The Fate of the Jews, 231).

The late Marion Woolfson

The writings of the disaffected Iraqi Jew Naeem Giladiare frequently invoked to support this myth.

Egyptian bombs of 1954 were indeed the work of a pro-Zionist group, but
there is no causal link with the exodus of 25,000 Jews two years

In the Iraqi case no one will ever know for certain who planted
bombs in 1950 -51, but three of the five episodes occurred after the
vast majority of the Jews had already left or were leaving – and caused
no casualties. The Israeli ‘new’ historian Tom Segev has produced evidence blaming the only fatal bombing on Iraqi nationalists. In his book Une si longue presence,
Nathan Weinstock makes the point that only the Iraqi police possessed
the no. 36 high potential grenades used in the bombings. Besides, the
two Zionist ‘culprits’ executed in January 1952, whose confessions were
extracted under torture, were never accused of the fatal bombing of 14
January 1951.

In any case undue focus on the ‘bombs’ distracts from
the overwhelming evidence of official antisemitism in Arab countries,
and does not explain the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Jews from Yemen,
Syria, Libya and other countries.  

If any of you Maserati Jews happen to live in Glasgow, please attend the SPSC event tomorrow night. Don’t make the history inaccessible. This is your chance to acquaint the audience with the truth. You might mention the Farhud, the 1941 pogrom in which almost 200 Iraqi Jews were murdered. You might utter the word dhimmi. You might refer to the Arab League plan to persecute their Jewish citizens before the establishment of Israel. Or you might direct your listeners to this blog….

Forgotten Jewish writers of Algeria

 From top: Jean Daniel, Albert Bensoussan, Jeanne Benguigui; Helene Cixous

If the Judeo-Algerian music scene is widely knownJudeo-Algerian literature remains totally unknown or taboo, even if the authors supported the Algerian revolution. Amin Zaoui corrects the record on the Algerian-Jewish website Zlabia. Note that some writers, like Helene Cixous

Jacques Derrida and Jean Daniel, are not forgotten at all, but found fame in their adoptive land, France :

“The world of artistic culture knows well the geniuses of music and song : Sheikh Raymond, Reinette L’ Oranaise, Lili Labassi, Blond-Blond, Salim Halali, José de Suza, Lili Boniche, Rene Perez, Maurice El-Medioni, and so on. A Jewish-Algerian school has imprinted itself on the history of Algerian music to this day.

On the other hand, the literati and people of Algeria know nothing or little about Jewish-Algerian writers, for example:

Elissa Rhaïs real name Rosine Boumendil,   considered the pioneer of Jewish-Algerian literature. She was born in 1876 in Blida, and died in 1940, the first Algerian writer to be published and recognized in France. Among her works: Le Café
chantant, La Fille des pachas, La Fille du douar, Le Mariage de Hanifa,
Enfants de Palestine.

Sadia Levy, born in Oran in 1875. Died in 1951.  One of the poet Guillaume Apollinaire’s close friends. Jean Senac testified to and recognized his debt to the scholarship of Sadia Levy.  He wrote songs with Robert Randau, head of the Algerian literary movement, and a collection of short stories. 

Jules Tordjman was born in 1907 and died in Bechar in 1990. His poetic genius was praised by Leopold Sedar Senghor and Emmanuel Robles.

Maximilienne Heller, whose real name was Fenech. She was born in Constantine in 1889 and died in 1960, and was awarded the Algerian Grand Literary Prize in 1922. Her writings are considered anti-colonialist.

Jeanne Benguigui was born in Sidi Bel-Abbes in 1922 and died in 2003. Her book A Tale of Sidi Bel-Abbes shows her commitment to her hometown and its rich folk culture.

Albert Bensoussan was born in 1935 in Algiers, where he spent his youth. He was a high school teacher at the Lycee Bugeaud in Algiers (now the Lycee Emir Abdelkader ) until 1961. Algeria is very present in his work, especially the  Judeo-Arabic world. His story collection L’Echelle Algerienne evokes details the life of this community.

Myriam Ben, nee Marylise Ben Haim born in Algiers in 1928 and died in 2001. Novelist, poet, painter and anti-colonial voice. Among her memorable books: Le Soleil assassiné (poetry), Au
Carrefour des sacrifices
(poetry), Quand les cartes sont truquées
, Sabrina, ils t’ont volé ta vie (novel)

Hélène Cixous was born in 1937 in Oran. She is a great literary figure today, known also for her anti-colonialism and feminism. She wrote about fifty books, all genres, including: Le Prénom
de Dieu, Le Jour où je n’étais pas là, Ève s’évade ; La Ruine et la vie…

Other writers and Jewish-Algerian philosophers have become legends and still have Algeria in their heart : Jacques Derrida, born in Algiers in 1930, died in 2004 Jean Daniel Bensaid, known as Jean Daniel, born in Blida in 1920, writer, journalist and founder of the Nouvel Observateur, an activist and supporter of the Algerian revolution

If the Algerian French-speaking writers of Arab origin (Mohammed Dib, Malek Haddad, Mostefa Lacheraf) or Berber origin (Mouloud Feraoun Mouloud Mammeri Jean Amrouche) have a place in academic thinking, Jewish-Algerian writers , for their part, are totally forgotten.

In this time of hatred and dirty holy wars, and to resurrect the image of a pluralistic Algeria, we must never forget the shaheed Fernand Iveton, this Algerian Jew, who died for the independence of free Algeria. He was sentenced to death by colonial France and guillotined in 1957, and wrote: “In the life of a man, mine has little meaning. What matters is Algeria and its future, and Algeria will be free tomorrow. “

Read original post  (French)

IS jihadists are a ‘Jewish creation’

 Sunni social media are drawing parallels between the Islamic State army leader Khalifa Ibrahim (top right) and the Shi’ites (top left), the Christians (bottom left) and Jews at the western wall. Is their shared black garb coincidence? asks this advertisement.

With thanks: Maurice

 Here we go again. Whenever forces in the Arab and Muslim world want to discredit an individual or movement – they spread a Jewish conspiracy theory. The Islamic State army, now being bombed by western forces, is a ‘creation of the Jews’. This belief is being fuelled by the (Sunni) suspicion that the West has only been moved to act when minority interests are at stake. It must be stressed that there are no known Jews living in the zone of northern Iraq now controlled by IS.

suspicion among Arabs towards the US had increased after it started to
bomb IS positions when the latter’s
forces were 15-17 km away from Erbil, the Kurdish capital. This caused
the Arabs at large (Sunnis and Shiites) to say that the US did not care
to act when
250, 000 Arabs were killed in Syria during the last three years, and when IS
western Iraq during the last year, but it cared for the Kurds, Yezidis,
Christians…. This further fed the “conspiracy”
theory in Iraq and raised anti-Semitism in the country.

The leading Sunni scholar
Ahmed al-Qubaisi has declared that the different terrorist organisations are “a Jewish
Creation”. However,  a prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric, Ayatollah
Sayed Mortada al-Qazwini, has also described IS as “a Jewish-Israeli organization,
established to tear apart the land of Muslims.”

 Furthermore, an advertising
campaign against IS appearing on the Iraqi satellite television channel Afaq  showed a snake
with the mark of IS coming out of the Jewish Star of David. In the image above, Sunni social media equates the IS leader Khalifa Ibrahim to
religious Jews, a Christian Bishop, and Shi’ite Muqtada al-Sadr, who have black garb as their common dress.

 A rough translation of the writing at the top of the picture says:

black wearing (garb) is the one that combines them and is common among
them – Is it just a coincidence, or that their Imam is One who is the
Accursed Satan”?

the picture, the IS leader is called “Khawarij” (i.e. one of those who
rejected the leadership of the last Rashidin Khalifa), the Shi’ite
Muqtada al-Sadr is called “al-Rafidha” ( the Shi’ites are accused of denying the
completeness of the Qur’an),  a picture of Jews at the Western Wall; a bishop represents the Christians.

 Several Arab media outlets have also
circulated a story claiming that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is aJewishMossad agent by the name of Simon Elliot.

Other Jewish conspiracy theories:

General Al-Sissi the Jew (Haaretz) 

Assad’s a Jew(Times of Israel) 

Ahmadinejad’s Jewish past(Telegraph)

Is Gaddafi a Jew? 

How Israel helped create Hamas(Washington Post)

Denationalisation of Jews in Egypt

 Jews have had a presence in Egypt since the dawn of civilisation. The modern community was made up of indigenous Jews (Rabbanites and Karaites) and more recent arrivals from elsewhere in the Ottoman empire. Here is a timeline showing how Egypt’s Jews were stripped of their rights, beginning with the right to nationality in the 20th century:

The recently restored Maimonides synagogue in Cairo

1880: ‘Real Egyptian’ cabinet formed. In spite of Tanzimat reforms, Jews still considered dhimmis. The middle and upper classes sought European consular protection and passports under the capitulationsregime.

1914: 10, 000 ‘foreign’ Jews expelled  from Palestine arrive in Egypt.

1918: 80 – 100, 000 Jews in Egypt. Ethnicisation of Egyptians into separate ‘races.’

1927: First nationality law. Individual citizens required to apply.

End 1920s/30s: Muslim Brotherhood (founded 1928) and nationalists launch sporadic attacks on non-Muslims (Syrians/Armenians/Greeks/ Jews.) After 1933 Nazis finance anti-Jewish campaign.

1929: Nationality law establishes jus sanguinis. Arab/Muslims given preference. Only 5,000 Jews receive Egyptian nationality, 40,000 remain stateless. The poor could not afford £5 for a nationality certificate.

1937: Capitulations abolished. After 1949, Egyptian government responsible for protecting minorities.

1938: ‘Young Egypt’ pro-Nazi youth movement leader meets Adolph Hitler and calls for expulsion of Jews.

1942: Muslim Brotherhood issues anti-Balfour Declaration

2/3 November 1945: Anti-Jewish and minority riots. Ashkenazi Great synagogue and other Jewish institutions in Cairo burnt down. Jewish shops looted. Six killed.

1946: 200 Alexandrian Jews leave for Israel in semi-legal emigration.

1947: Heykal Pasha, Egyptian delegate to the UN, threatens that a million Jews in Arab countries would be at risk if Palestine Partition goes ahead.

1947: Arabisation Company Law insists that 75% employees must be Arab/Muslim.

1948: police begin anti-Zionist witchhunt. Emigration to Israel goes underground.

May 1948: arrest and internment of 1,300 -1, 000 of them Jews. Sequestration of internees’ property. Jewish schools placed under government control and forced to implement Egyptianisation. Some Jews barred from higher education.

June 1948: martial law imposed. Local Jews considered a Fifth Column. Jewish assets, both communal and private seized during first Arab-Israeli war. Some 20, 000 Jews leave for Israel and Europe. Those with Egyptian nationality stripped of it.

20 June 1948: 22 Jews killed in bombings of Karaite quarter of Cairo.

 July 1948: 500 Jewish shops including Cicurel and Oreco department stores bombed. A ‘Zionist plane’ blamed. Some 200 Jews in all killed during rioting that summer.

September 1948 : 19 Jews killed. Jewish businesses looted.

November 1948. Jewish shops looted in Cairo.

1950 (revised 1951, 53 and 56) nationality law bans Jews from receiving Egyptian nationality and allows all ‘Zionists’ to be stripped of their nationality.

Black Saturday, 26 January 1952: nationalists and fundamentalists attack Greek, Armenian and Jewish property.

1956 – 57. Following rise to power of Nasser and the Free Officers, expulsion of 25, 000 Jews in wake of Suez crisis. (Greeks and Italians were not expelled).

1961 -62 nationalisation of remaining Jewish property.

1967 All Jewish males interned after Six-Day war. Number of Jews falls to 15, 000.

2014 Twelve Jews remain in Cairo, five in Alexandria.

Roughly based on Ruth Toledano Attias’s essay in La fin du Judaisme en terres d’Islam (Ed. S Trigano)

Other timelines: Yemen 




An old-new sound for the New Year


With thanks: Ruth

The traditional prayer Anenu (Answer Us) is a feature of this time of the Jewish year – a time of repentance. After a month of Selichot (asking for forgiveness), every observant Jew is ready to begin the New Year with a ‘clean spiritual slate’.

This rendition illustrates how in Israel today ancient prayers from the oriental synagogue have been jazzed up and fused with modern pop to give a unique ‘Mizrahi’ sound.


Shana tova, tisku leshanim rabot !


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Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

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forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.