Sunday, February 10, 2013

Egyptian Jew: " they wanted us out. We got out."


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 1950.

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.

Read article in full
  A scene from the 1954 film celebrating Egyptian coexistence: Hassan, Cohen and Morcos (courstesy JIMENA)

1 comment:

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