Wednesday, January 09, 2013
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 to kill Jews if 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.