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The point of no return to Egypt

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is currently the strongest political force in Egypt. Many observers believe they will remain the strongest political force for at least the near future. The comments they have made about Jews who fled their country are deeply depressing and open deep wounds that I still feel today.

Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam al-Erian suggested in January that Egyptian Jews should flee a “racist” Israel (destined to be destroyed by the likes of him within ten years) and come back to live in “freedom” in his Egypt where we would not be tainted by “crimes against humanity” committed in our name. If his comments were not ridiculous enough, President Mohammed Morsi (who is married to his own cousin) insinuated in a meeting with US Senators that his past anti-Semitic comments were misconstrued by Jews who control the media.

In 1948 there were 80,000 Jews living in Egypt. Today, there are no Jews to speak of (if there are indeed any left at all) in Egypt. After al-Erian’s comments people rose up screaming that the Jews would never be allowed back over their dead bodies under any circumstance. Morsi and al-Erian’s comments together simply show that the Muslim Brotherhood has always been and continues to be fierce defenders of Dhimmitude and despised Jews before any modern day State of Israel was created.

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.

None of this seems to be enough for Morsi – he is still calling us pigs and apes, and continues to add fuel to the fire by raging that Jews run the media (and I assume Jews control the government as well) in the United States. It may be more than 60 years since my father fled Egypt, but Egypt’s leaders are still evoking the same old anti-Jewish rhetoric that made my father leave the country.

The irony is that for such a powerful minority, we have had some pretty bad luck in what was once our country!

And for a group that controls the press, it doesn’t seem to have much power over what Secretary of State designate John Kerry and the United States government gives a man like Morsi: respect and billions of dollars.

When confronted, Kerry defended giving Egypt billions of dollars because the United States really NEEDS Egypt.

Kerry should support those of us who want to see action (less bailout money, no more begging for an “appropriate apology” when Morsi evokes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion). But instead of penalizing Morsi, Kerry chides us. We are told we must keep respecting him and expect his cooperation in making “peace” in the region.

And so, Morsi gets a free pass.

So much for the amount of control we Jews have in the press and otherwise.

What is this hatred about?

What exactly was our crime in Egypt? That we were Jews. Nothing more.

What is our crime today? That many Egyptian Jews survived the transit camps that greeted them in Israel and are now proud Egyptian Israelis.

Egypt didn’t care what happened to the Jews it expelled. Morsi and the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood before him never expected Israel to survive.

The crime of Israel today is that it is a refuge for Jews who suffer from hatred of those like the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to the Muslim Brotherhood, Israel is an insult and an abomination on what Morsi considers Islamic Lands. Never mind that we lived in the region first and were there for thousands of years before the advent of Islam.

Morsi and his ilk must one day face the fact that many Egyptian Jews are now Israeli Egyptian Jews. We Egyptian Jews in exile still love Egyptian food and all the smells of Egypt – moulokia and ful mudamas – all of it, even the fish buried in tin cans in the hot sand on the beaches in the summers at Tanta. My dad and the Wahbas, they never forgot the tastes of Egypt.

And when Dad talked of Egypt, it was about a homeland that expelled him, and in the end, he was grateful, that once out of the maabarot and the horrors of refugee resettlement, Jews could be Jews sovereign in their real homeland. Yes, you can be a refugee with nothing but one suitcase, kicked out after three thousand years, with no passport, and return to your original homeland as a refugee.

It happened.

What is never going to happen is any return to Egypt.

So for those in Egypt saying “not over my dead body are they (the Jews) returning,” don’t worry. No one goes back to a society where they are so hated, no matter how much they love the smell of fenugreek.

Read more: The point of no return to Egypt | Rachel Wahba | The Blogs | The Times of Israel



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