2. Communitarianisms, Nationalisms, Nostalgias
Operation Susannah was the most salient political event in the life of the Jewish community of Egypt from 1949 to 1956. The involvement of Egyptian Jews in acts of espionage and sabotage against Egypt organized and directed by Israeli military intelligence raised fundamental questions about their identities and loyalties. These issues are explicitly addressed in the apology for the operation offered in the name of four members of the Operation Susannah network—Robert Dassa, Victor Levy, Philip Natanson, and Marcelle Ninio—by Aviezer Golan, in their authorized collective memoir.
After fourteen years in Egyptian jails, the four reached Israel in the prisoner exchange following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Their presence in the country was an official secret until 1971, when Prime Minister Golda Meir announced her intention to attend Marcelle Ninio's wedding. Not until March 1975, when the four told their story publicly for the first time on national television, did the Israeli government acknowledge that they had been trained and directed by the Israeli army. Nonetheless, Aviezer Golan explained that their actions did not constitute treason against Egypt because
[t]he foursome—like all the other heroes of “the mishap”—were born and brought up in Egypt, but they never regarded themselves—nor were they ever regarded by others—as Egyptians.…They were typical members of Egypt's Jewish community.…It was a community with shallow roots. The Jews reached Egypt during the second half of the nineteenth century or the beginning of the twentieth.…[T]hey could not read or write Arabic, and spoke no more of the language than was necessary for the simplest daily needs.…All of Egypt's Jews could have been considered Zionists—or, to be more precise, “lovers of Zion.” 
Speaking for Dassa, Levy, Natanson, and Ninio, Golan emphasized the lack of Jewish affinity to Egypt. In contrast, at the press conference convened to announce the arrest of the saboteurs, Egyptian Minister of Interior Zakariyya Muhyi al-Din stressed that the majority of Egyptian Jews were loyal citizens like all other Egyptians. He claimed that some Jews approached by Israeli agents had refused to act against their homeland and that those who did succumbed to trickery or coercion. He vowed that the government would deal harshly with the minority of Jews who committed espionage and sabotage on Israel's behalf while continuing “to treat the non-Zionists with the kindness and respect due to every decent citizen.”  Fu’ad al-Digwi, the prosecutor at the Cairo trial of the network, reiterated the official view of the status of Egyptian Jews in his concluding statement: “The Jews of Egypt are living among us and are sons of Egypt. Egypt makes no difference between its sons whether Moslems, Christians, or Jews. These defendants happen to be Jews who reside in Egypt, but we are trying them because they committed crimes against Egypt, although they are Egypt's sons.”  Photo essays on the trial in the popular weekly al-Musawwar and daily reports of the proceedings in al-Ahram repeated that the accused were not being tried as Jews, but as spies and saboteurs, while loyal Jewish citizens continued to live peacefully and without discrimination.
These contradictory representations of the identity and consequent obligations of Egyptian Jews are products of the national narratives of Israel and Egypt. Both national projects required Jews to identify unequivocally with one or the other. Any ambivalence was an unacceptable betrayal of the nation-state and its imperatives. But until the dispersion of the community after the 1956 Suez/Sinai War, Egyptian Jews maintained more complex multiple identities and loyalties than can be accommodated by either of the contending national narratives. Their responses to the demands for loyalty from the emerging national states of Egypt and Israel were inflected by differences of class, ethnic origin, religious rite, educational formation, political outlook, and personal accident. Yet few could embrace fully the options of official state-centered identities. Forced to decide between Egypt and Israel, most chose to make new homes in other diasporas. Decades after the liquidation of the community, some Egyptian Jews have reclaimed their Levantine cosmopolitanism through nostalgic literary reconstructions of Egypt that challenge the canons of Zionist discourse and simultaneously resist the discourse of Egyptian nationalism.
Between Two Homelands: Egyptian Jewish Representations of Egypt
The Jewish connection to Egypt, even if partly mythological, is ancient. The biblical stories of Abraham, Joseph, and the Exodus incorporate Egypt into the sacred geography of the Jewish tradition, and these narratives were regularly invoked. The 1942 Annuaire des Juifs d'Egypte et du proche-orient, whose editor, Maurice Fargeon, openly declared his Zionist sympathies, proudly reviewed the Jewish bond to Egypt:
The history of the Jewish people has been linked, since the remotest times, to that of Egypt. Already in the time of the pharaohs of the first dynasties we find Joseph sold by his brothers becoming, because of his great wisdom and profound judgment, a powerful minister in the valley of the Nile.…[T]he children of Israel went to Goshen (a province of Egypt) at the call of Joseph.…Moses, the most sublime figure of Israel, the first legislator, emerged from the womb of Egypt.…Thus the first halutzim [pioneers] of history were the Jews of Egypt led by Moses and then Joshua.
According to Fargeon, some Jews did not leave Egypt at the time of Moses but remained and moved to Asyut, where they formed a tribe of warriors. They were later joined by refugees, including the prophet Jeremiah and his secretary, Barukh, fleeing the Babylonian conquest of Judea. The 1945–46 edition of the Annuaire des Juifs d'Egypte et du proche-orient reiterated the historic link between Jews and Egypt and risked offending religious sentiment by suggesting that the source of Jewish monotheism was the ancient Egyptian cult of Ra. The anonymous author of this article (probably Maurice Fargeon) claimed that many Jewish rituals, symbols, and precepts—circumcision, the candelabrum, the altar, the design of the pillars of the temple, even several of the Ten Commandments—derived from ancient Egypt. These assertions are based on Ernest Renan's Histoire du peuple d'Israël, a popular text among rationalist Francophone Jews. The questionable evidence supporting them does not diminish their significance in the construction of Egyptian Jewish identity and self-presentation. As Renan himself noted, “Forgetting…and even historical error are an essential factor in the creation of a nation.” 
Recapitulating these stories affirmed the ancient bond of Jews with Egypt, hence the legitimacy of their residence there. This history implicitly disputed the positions of Young Egypt and the Society of Muslim Brothers, who were, by the late 1930s, antagonistic to the Jewish presence. These organizations embraced what might be regarded as a romantic-reactionary vision of the Egyptian nation based on its Islamic (and for Young Egypt also its pharaonic) past. They opposed the secular-liberalism of the Wafd and vigorously fought the Marxist political currents that emerged in the middle of World War II and that attracted many Jews to their banner. Hierarchically structured and militarized, the Muslim Brothers and Young Egypt adopted fascist organizational techniques and were sympathetic to the Axis powers during World War II. They were not fascist groups in the same sense as contemporary European movements, but that is how many liberal and left-leaning Egyptians, including most of the Jewish community, regarded them.
Fargeon's narrative of Egyptian Jewish history also contested the validity of the Zionist goal of “negation of the diaspora.” Referring to Egyptian Jews as pioneers did link them to the Zionist settlement project in Palestine. But Fargeon undoubtedly knew that only a small minority of Egyptian Jews were political Zionists. Perhaps by noting their contribution to the pioneering effort over 3,000 years ago he meant to excuse them for neglecting this enterprise in the twentieth century. Moreover, as even in the time of Moses some Jews remained in Egypt, it would be unreasonable for Zionists to expect them all to emigrate to Palestine in the twentieth century.
Between the two world wars, many Jews felt no contradiction between Zionist and Egyptian national commitments. In an open letter to Haim Nahum Effendi, the chief rabbi of Egypt, the editor of the Arabic/French pro-Zionist periodical Isra’il/Israël, Albert D. Mosseri, asked the rabbi to “Please explain to our brothers that one can be an excellent patriot of the country of one's birth while being a perfect Jewish nationalist. One does not exclude the other.”  Rabbi Nahum, a consistent anti-Zionist throughout his tenure in office (1924–60), did not accede to this request.
Several Egyptian Jews did participate in both national movements. Léon Castro conducted propaganda for the Wafd Party in Europe after the 1919 nationalist uprising and founded and edited a pro-Wafd French language newspaper, La Liberté, after returning to Egypt. At the same time, he was the head of the Zionist Organization of Cairo. In the 1940s, he served as the representative of the Jewish Agency for Palestine in Egypt. Félix Benzakein was a member of the Wafd, a deputy in parliament, a member of the Alexandria rabbinical court, and president of the Zionist Organization of Alexandria. Despite his Zionist commitments, Benzakein remained in Egypt until 1960, when he emigrated to the United States.
The intensification of the Arab-Zionist conflict in Palestine during the Arab Revolt of 1936–39 strained such dual commitments. And they became nearly impossible after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Yet as late as 1965 Shlomo Kohen-Tzidon, a native of Alexandria who emigrated to Israel in 1949 and eventually became a member of the Knesset, published a book memorializing Shmu’el Azar—one of the two Jews executed for their roles in Operation Susannah—whose central argument, in sharp contrast to prevailing opinion in Israel, was that accommodation and understanding between the Egyptian and Israeli national movements were possible and desirable.
For Zionist historiography, the creation of the state of Israel and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War signal the end of the Egyptian Jewish community. When Egypt invaded Israel on May 15, 1948, hundreds of Zionist activists were interned in Huckstep, Abu Qir, and al-Tur (along with the other major opponents of the regime—the communists, including some 300 Jews, and the Society of Muslim Brothers). The property of those suspected of Zionist activity was sequestered, pro-Zionist Jewish newspapers were closed, and Zionism was declared illegal. The government did little to protect Egyptian Jews and their property from bombings and other attacks generally attributed to the Muslim Brothers during the summer of 1948. The regime was not necessarily ill-disposed to the Jewish community, but it feared confronting the Muslim Brothers, who did not distinguish between Jews and Zionists. Vigorously defending the rights of the Jews of Egypt during a war against the Jews of Palestine would have been difficult for an unpopular regime to explain to the public. During 1949 and 1950, about 20,000 Jews left Egypt, of whom 14,299 settled in Israel; the others went to Europe, North America, and South America. Conditions began to improve when Ibrahim ‘Abd al-Hadi became prime minister at the end of 1948. Husayn Sirri, a business partner of several of the wealthiest Jewish families, rapidly succeeded ‘Abd al-Hadi in the premiership. His government issued a political amnesty in July 1949. By the time the Wafd returned to power in January 1950, all the prisoners had been released from internment, and many Jews felt it would be possible to return to life as it was before the war.
A Zionist activist who left Egypt in late 1949 reported to the Jewish Agency's Department for Middle Eastern Jewry that many of his compatriots felt there would be peace between Egypt and Israel sooner or later and that neighborly relations would be resumed. He affirmed the historic Jewish link to Egypt in the same terms used by the Annuaire des Juifs d'Egypte et du proche-orient: “The Jewish people has taken root in Egypt and the most beautiful Jewish figures resided in that country or came there seeking refuge: Joseph, the first minister of supply in history, our great legislator Moses, Philo of Alexandria, Sa‘adya ha-Ga‘on, Maimonides.…Our Torah, the most beautiful achievement of the spirit, the charter of humanity, was given to us on Mt. Sinai, land of Egypt.” 
A few months later Haim Sha’ul, a clandestine Zionist emissary sent back to his native Egypt by the Jewish Agency to organize immigration to Israel, reported that an important Jewish community would continue to live in Egypt and that it was necessary to think about how to organize it. As late as 1961, when fewer than 10,000 Jews remained in Egypt, longtime Zionist activist Félix Benzakein believed that “one day [Jews]…will come back in peace to resume our unalterable friendship with the [Egyptian] people.”  Ultimately, perhaps 45 percent of all Egyptian Jews resettled in Israel; others reestablished their communities in Europe and the Americas.
Millet, Minority, and Citizenship
Aviezer Golan's desire to justify Israeli-inspired espionage and sabotage led him to overlook much that was significant, yet not easily contained by the Israeli national narrative. But the Egyptian national narrative is similarly flawed because the secular-liberal conception of the Egyptian nation invoked by Zakariyya Muhyi al-Din and other Egyptian officials during the trial of the perpetrators of Operation Susannah has never been fully realized. Until 1914, Egypt was a part of the Ottoman Empire, and its Jewish residents were juridically a religious community protected by a Muslim state. Community affairs were governed by autonomous institutions in accord with the Ottoman millet system, and members consisted of those who accepted the authority of Jewish law (halakhah) as interpreted and applied by rabbinical courts, though by the twentieth century few Jews resorted to these courts except for matters of personal status: marriage, divorce, adoption, burial, and inheritance.
This millet identity can be termed communitarianism: the worldview and self-perception of Jews (and other non-Muslims) living in a multi-ethnic, multiconfessional empire. There was a high level of toleration, communal autonomy, and cultural symbiosis among Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Individual Jews achieved high positions in the political and economic arenas in late Ottoman and monarchical Egypt. But Muslims occupied the leading military and political positions, and their right to do so was not seriously challenged.
The Ottoman political field was defined by a hierarchical relationship among religious communities that the installation of the formal apparatus of representative democracy and a nation-state promised to abolish. Secular-liberal nationalist political theory defined all citizens as equal members of the nation. But by dividing citizens into a “majority” and “minorities,” secular-liberalism created new and somewhat less transparent forms of hierarchy.
The secularist slogan of the 1919 nationalist uprising—“Religion is for God and the homeland is for all” (al-din li’llah wa’l-watan li’l-jami‘)—invited Jews to claim their place as citizens of the Egyptian nation, and some did so. Yet even in the 1920s, the hegemony of secular-liberal nationalism was challenged on two fronts by the persistence of colonial privilege and by Islamic conceptions of the polity. From 1876 to 1949, foreign citizens residing in Egypt had the right to have their legal affairs adjudicated in mixed courts, which Europeans commonly regarded as more “advanced” and modern than the indigenous legal system. Preserving a zone of legal separatism reproduced elements of Ottoman-style community autonomy that undermined secular-liberal notions of citizenship.
However, the legal autonomy of non-Muslims was not solely a product of colonialism. Until 1955, Egypt recognized the communal courts of all its religious communities. The state colluded in undermining its own sovereignty for over three decades because the authority of the Muslim shari‘a courts derived from the same conceptual order that sustained the non-Muslim religious courts. Until Gamal Abdel Nasser, no political leader commanded sufficient authority to challenge it.
By the late 1930s, the limited character of the independence achieved in 1922 and the inevitable reaction against it eroded secular-liberal, territorial conceptions of the nation. British collusion with the monarchy in undermining parliamentary democracy, the continuing British military occupation, the privileged position of Europeans, the intensifying Arab-Zionist conflict in Palestine, and the rise of fascism and communism in Europe led many Egyptians to reject secular-liberal conceptions of the nation and to rearticulate their nationalism in either pan-Arab or Islamist terms. These had long been elements of the cultural repertoire from which Egyptians drew their self-conceptions. The leading organized expressions of these tendencies were the Society of Muslim Brothers and Young Egypt. Their orientations excluded Jews from membership in the nation, either because they were not Muslims or because they were not “real” Egyptians. Jews could not accept the militant anti-Zionism that was commonly associated with pan-Arabism or the pro-Axis sentiments of some Arab nationalists.
At the turn of the twentieth century, autochthonous Jews who would be entitled to Egyptian citizenship by the 1929 nationality law and its successors made up at least half of the Jewish community. But in 1948, only 5,000–10,000 of Egypt's 75,000–80,000 Jews held Egyptian citizenship. Some 40,000 were stateless, and 30,000 were foreign nationals. Many of the 10,000 poor, Arabic-speaking residents of the Rabbanite and Karaite Jewish quarters (harat al-yahud and harat al-yahud al-qara’in) in the Gamaliyya district of Cairo or the 15,000 residents of the port district (harat al-liman) of Alexandria were among the stateless. Jews with foreign citizenship typically bought it from European consular representatives seeking local proteges as commercial agents or levers to intervene in Egyptian affairs during the colonial era. At that time, the category of Egyptian citizen did not exist. Egypt was a province of the Ottoman Empire, and its residents were the subjects (reaya) of the sultan/caliph. Jews who obtained foreign citizenship did not usually regard this as impugning their identity as Egyptians; most other Egyptians felt otherwise.
Establishing citizenship, like many other transactions between the Egyptian state and its subjects, was a cumbersome procedure. Until the enactment of the Company Law of 1947 requiring firms to employ fixed quotas of Egyptians, those who did not travel abroad had no need for a certificate of citizenship and rarely bothered to obtain it. Chief Rabbi Nahum encouraged eligible Jews to apply for Egyptian citizenship during the 1930s and 1940s, but despite the nominally liberal language of the law, their applications were often subjected to bureaucratic delay and rejection. Such practices were not directed specifically at Jews. Members of the other non-Muslim, mutamassir communities long resident in Egypt-Syrian Christians, Greeks, Italians, Armenians—were similarly treated.
Egyptian Jews, like others trapped by the false promises of liberalism, blended elements of communitarianism and nationalism in practices and worldviews shaped by the European presence in the Middle East yet incompatible with the logic of the nation-state. In what follows I examine sectors of the Egyptian Jewish community—the Karaites, the haute bourgeoisie, the young radicals of the Francophone middle class—whose outlooks and activities resist incorporation into the national narratives of Egypt and Israel.
The Karaites: An Arab Jewish Community
The Karaites lived in Egypt for over 1,000 years, mainly in Cairo's harat al-yahud al-qara’in. They were integrated into Cairo's ethnic division of labor, typically working as goldsmiths and jewelers. Remnants of their historic role persist in the Karaite family names of firms in Cairo's gold market, like al-Sirgani, though no Karaites remain in the trade and few Egyptians are aware of the origin of these names. In the twentieth century, wealthier Karaites began to move to the middle-class districts of ‘Abbasiyya and Heliopolis and to adopt elements of bourgeois, Franco-phone, cosmopolitan culture. But in all respects except religious practice, the daily lives of the Karaites of harat al-yahud al-qara’in were indistinguishable from those of their Muslim neighbors, celebrated by Naguib Mahfouz as the quintessential traditional Cairenes in his Cairo trilogy.
In March 1901, the Karaite communal council was organized and recognized by the Egyptian state. The somewhat archaic Arabic name of this body (majlis milli) expresses the Karaites' self-conception as an ethnic-religious Ottoman millet. The editor of the community newspaper explained, “Our community's existence is based on religion so it is our first duty to preserve our religion and to behave in accord with the law of our lord Moses” (shari‘at sayyidina musa). When the shaykh of al-Azhar died in 1945, Karaite Chief Rabbi Tuvia Levi Babovitch attended the funeral, and the community newspaper extended condolences “to the Egyptian nation and the Eastern countries” (al-umma al-misriyya wa’l-aqtar al-sharqiyya)-a formulation implying that Egypt was a Muslim country, not a secular-liberal state in which religion was irrelevant to citizenship. The same conception motivated the congratulations offered to “the Egyptian people” on the Muslim feast of ‘id al-adha. Similarly, the community greeted “the Christian peoples” (al-umam al-masihiyya) on the occasion of “the foreign new year” (ra's al-sana al-ifranjiyya).
The Karaites' historical narrative legitimated their presence in Egypt with reference to its Islamic history and the protected status of Jews according to Islamic law. One account claimed that Karaites resided in Egypt when it was conquered for Islam by ‘Amr Ibn al-‘As, who gave them a plot of land at Basatin (near Ma‘adi) as a communal cemetery and exempted them from paying the jizya tax. Another traced the Karaite presence in Egypt to the time of ‘Anan ben David in the eighth century. Both versions affirmed that, except during the reign of the Fatimid Sultan al-Hakim, Karaites enjoyed good relations with their Muslim neighbors.
These linguistic usages and historical narratives are imbedded in the categories of Arabo-Muslim culture. By the 1940s, most Karaites had only partially assimilated the secular-liberal notions of citizenship and nationality recently introduced to Egypt. They saw themselves as a protected religious minority in a Muslim country, employed concepts and institutions derived from the Islamic cultural and political tradition, and regarded themselves as Egyptian in those terms.
At the same time, educated Karaite youth, responding to the mass murder of European Jews and the widespread hopes for a new world in the post-World War II era, began to feel constrained by the limits of communitarianism. Some were not particularly interested in religion, did not pray regularly, did not observe the Sabbath scrupulously, and used Passover matzah (unleavened bread) baked by Rabbanite Jews. The Young Karaite Jewish Association (YKJA) was formed in 1937 by educated youth seeking to establish a modern identity for their community. They published an Arabic bimonthly, al-Kalim (The spokesman, the Arabic term refers to Moses), which appeared regularly until 1956 and promoted a program of communal reform, including the study of Hebrew and modern forms of sociability such as the Karaite boy scout troop, the Karaite youth orchestra, theater performances, sports activities, and outings of young men and women to the Pyramids, Saqqara, the Barrages, and Ma‘adi. Al-Kalim also campaigned to improve the status of women.
The reform orientation of the YKJA demonstrated considerable strength when the organization challenged Rabbi Babovitch and the community council by supporting a slate of candidates in the council elections of 1946. Seven of its ten candidates were elected. Except for the particularity of Hebrew (which has its parallel in Muhammad ‘Abduh's efforts to reform the study of Arabic), the activities encouraged by the YKJA were similar to those embraced by secular-liberal Egyptian nationalists seeking to create modern, bourgeois citizens, though conducting them within the Karaite community reinforced communitarianism as much as it promoted nationalism.
In this spirit, an editor of al-Kalim, Eli Amin Lisha‘, criticized the Karaites' social isolation. He reproached Rabbi Babovitch for failing to visit the newly appointed shaykh of al-Azhar in 1946 or to greet King Faruq when he returned to Cairo from Alexandria and urged the community to participate in Egyptian national holidays “because our Egyptian citizenship requires this.” This would win the affection of “our Egyptian brothers” and increase their sympathy for the community. Lisha's appeal to assume the responsibilities of national citizenship acknowledged that Karaite practices and outlooks were still largely communitarian. Moreover, his concern for the community's image in the eyes of other Egyptians is itself a form of communitarian sentiment.
The editors of al-Kalim linked the project of communal reform to the Egyptian national revival and regarded Karaite Jews as Egyptians in all respects. The newspaper's front page often featured the cartoon figure of “Abu Ya‘qub”—the Jewish counterpart of ‘al-Misri Effendi, who symbolized the modern, educated Egyptian nationalist. Sometimes the two were shown walking arm in arm; sometimes Abu Ya‘qub appeared alone, accompanied by an article on his Egyptian character. Al-Kalim repeatedly referred to Karaites as “abna’ al-balad” (sons of the country), a populist term connoting native Egyptians. Language, dress, and gender relations were commonly cited as markers of the Karaites' authentic Egyptian identity.
The language of instruction in the Karaite communal schools was Arabic. Al-Kalim proudly noted that Karaite dialect and usage were indistinguishable from those of other Cairenes. Even in referring to contested localities for which Jews and Arabs used different names, al-Kalim used Arabic not Hebrew terms—“Nablus” (Shkhem), “al-Quds al-sharif” (Jerusalem), and “Filastin” (the land of Israel).
Because the Karaites spoke native Arabic and used it in all of their affairs except religious liturgy, they were fully integrated into Arabo-Egyptian culture. Al-Kalim often published poetry in colloquial Egyptian (zagal), an art commonly considered a marker of cultural authenticity. The poet laureate of the community, Murad Farag, composed both colloquial zagal and standard Arabic qasidas. His style was said to resemble that of Ahmad Shawqi, a leading twentieth-century, Egyptian poet.Al-Kalim's editor-in-chief, Yusuf Kamal, was the son of Da’ud Husni (1870–1937), a major figure in modern Arabic music. Each year on the anniversary of his death, al-Kalim celebrated Husni's artistic accomplishments, sometimes reprinting articles from other Arabic publications affirming the nationalist contribution of his music.
According to al-Kalim, Karaite men historically wore sharawil (baggy pants) and tarabish (fezes) like other Egyptians, and there was “almost no difference in outward appearance between the Karaite woman and her Muslim friend.”  Eli Amin Lisha‘ regarded the Karaites as “Eastern” and “conservative” in their social customs, unlike their Rabbanite brothers. He acknowledged that Karaite women participated in mixed cultural and sports clubs, but he believed that this was legitimate because it encouraged marriage and did not violate propriety because women of other communities had already done the same. Thus, Lisha‘ acknowledged changes in Karaite gender relations while affirming the norms of Middle Eastern patriarchy and a communitarian outlook. He emulated the Egyptian nationalist movement in assigning to women the burden of cultural authenticity while promoting moderate reforms in their status so that they could become proper companions for male citizens.
The relationship between the Karaite community court and the Egyptian state illustrates the unstable amalgam of communitarianism and the demands of citizenship shaping Karaite practices by the 1950s. Like all the non-Muslim religious communities, the Karaites opposed the abolition of communal religious courts despite the nationalist criticisms of this institution. Al-Kalim reprinted an article in al-Ahram arguing that these courts were not an Ottoman innovation (hence not properly Egyptian), but a valid Islamic institution established in the time of the Prophet. Each year the link between the Karaite court and the state was renewed when the governor of Cairo confirmed its members, who were required by law to be Egyptian citizens. In October 1949, the judges who had served the previous year were reappointed by the community council. An official of the governorate sent to certify the citizenship of the judges rejected their claims to be Egyptians and demanded that they obtain certificates of citizenship. This official admitted that he, like most Egyptians, did not have such a certificate. Jacques Mangubi, the head of the communal council and a senior employee of Bank Misr, then explained, “It is known that we are Egyptians. The government must determine if we are foreigners or Egyptians. And as long as we are not foreigners, then we are Egyptians.” Yusuf Kamal affirmed that the members of the court were Egyptians but that it was difficult for them to obtain certificates of citizenship “for reasons not hidden from anyone.” He advised the government to expedite the procedures for certifying citizenship and to facilitate granting certificates to all Egyptians regardless of religion. This was an unusually bold criticism of the government and a departure from the loyalist quietism typical of the Karaite community.
Most Karaites were entitled to be and wanted to be Egyptian citizens, but they met with official resistance to their claim. Yet a low-level state official might well be uncertain about the identity of even this most Egyptian of all Jewish communities. As Eli Amin Lisha‘ acknowledged, “some have French or Russian citizenship even though they and their fathers have never left the country, and this is because citizenship used to be sold, and a Karaite may have bought it though he is 100 percent Egyptian” (wa-huwa masri lahman wa-daman). This incident indicates, in a small but crucial way, that even Jews who regarded themselves as fully Egyptian and who eschewed political Zionism were not treated exactly like other Egyptians, as the government and the press claimed during the trial of the Operation Susannah conspirators.
There is probably a measure of defensiveness in al-Kalim's representation of the Karaite community because articles stressing its Egyptian character appeared after events threatening the status of Jews in Egypt, such as the anti-Zionist demonstrations on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1945, that degenerated into anti-Jewish riots and the start of the first Arab-Israeli war on May 15, 1948. But many such articles were unconnected to any crisis. Even if its insistence on the Egyptian identity of the Karaites was strategically motivated, al-Kalim was an Arabic publication and the only organ of the Karaite community from 1945 to 1956, giving substance to the claim. The Karaite community was deeply imbued with Egyptian Arab culture while remaining fully Jewish in its own terms.
This included a religiously based love of Zion but no organized involvement with political Zionism. The he-Halutz (The pioneer) Zionist youth movement tried to organize Karaites and Rabbanites in harat al-yahud, but with limited success. The Cairo Zionist Federation had no ties with Karaites, and few residents of harat al-yahud belonged to the Zionist youth movements.
Murad Farag, the leading intellectual of the Karaite community, had long advocated closer relations between Karaites and Rabbanites. He encouraged some of the educated youth around al-Kalim who were unsatisfied by the communitarianism of their elders to seek contacts with the Rabbanites, who were considered more “advanced.” Stepping beyond the boundaries of their community exposed these Karaite youth to the full range of political orientations of the post-World War II era, and some became Zionists. Several hundred young Karaites emigrated to Israel between 1948 and 1956 against the advice of Chief Rabbi Babovitch.
The best-known Karaite involved in organized Zionist activity was Moshe Marzuq, the commander of the Israeli espionage network in Cairo, who was executed for his role in Operation Susannah. He was a member of he-Halutz and the underground self-defense (Haganah) organization established by emissaries from Palestine in 1946 before becoming a spy and saboteur for Israel. Marzuq's older brother, Yosef, had been arrested as a Zionist activist in May 1948, although he was one of the first to be freed because of the intervention of the French Consulate (his grandfather had bought a Tunisian passport from the French Consulate). Yosef Marzuq emigrated to Israel in 1953. This family background and the fact that Moshe Marzuq was employed as a doctor in the Rabbanite Jewish hospital meant that his social and cultural milieu was not limited to harat al-yahud, and this may explain his receptivity to Zionism. Marzuq's arrest and execution had a chilling effect on the Karaites. Because of his status as a doctor, he was well known and respected, though not even his older brother suspected he was engaged in espionage and sabotage on behalf of Israel.
Nonetheless, a significant proportion of the Karaites remained in Egypt until the 1960s. Because most Karaites were thoroughly Arabized and defined themselves in terms rooted in their experience as an Ottoman millet, they tended to remain in Egypt longer than Rabbanites. But ultimately, they could not resist the forces reshaping the Egyptian political community in ways that effectively excluded Jews.
Cosmopolitanism and Egyptianism: The Jewish Haute Bourgeoisie
If Karaites regarded themselves as Egyptians on the basis of their long residence and Arabic culture, the Jewish haute bourgeoisie did not believe that their lack of these attributes made them any less Egyptian. The Qattawis and the Mosseris, powerful Cairene Jewish business families in the interwar period, were longtime residents of Egypt. But many families of the Jewish business elite were Sephardi immigrants from other parts of the Ottoman Empire who had arrived in Egypt in the nineteenth century seeking economic opportunities. As Ottoman subjects, they were not juridically foreigners. They were Arabic and, occasionally, Turkish speakers. Their “Eastern” culture allowed them to acclimate easily.
Kinship connections throughout the Mediterranean basin, a long tradition of diasporic commercial activity, and participation in the local cultures of the Levant and overseas French culture enabled Jewish businessmen to function as commercial intermediaries between Europe and the Ottoman realms, often obtaining foreign citizenship in the process. In the shadow of British colonial rule, from 1882 to 1922, several Sephardi families established business enterprises on their own and in collaboration with European partners. In the 1920s and 1930s, they expanded their network of business relationships to form partnerships with Muslim Egyptians. These alliances became prominent institutions of the modern capitalist sector of the economy during the first half of the twentieth century and linked the prosperity of the Jewish haute bourgeoisie to Egypt and its future.
Yusuf ‘Aslan Qattawi (Cattaui) Pasha (1861–1942), president of the Sephardi Jewish Community Council of Cairo from 1924 to 1942, was the most visible Egyptian Jew of the interwar era, not only because of his leadership of the community, but perhaps even more so because of his extensive business and political activity. He studied engineering in France, returned to Egypt to work for the Ministry of Public Works, and then left to study the sugar refining industry in Moravia. Returning again to Egypt, Qattawi Pasha became a director of the Egyptian Sugar Company and president of the Kom Ombo Company, which developed and cultivated sugar on 70,000 acres of desert land in Aswan Province. Building from this base in the sugar industry, the Qattawis established several industrial, financial, and real estate enterprises in collaboration with the Suarèses and other Jewish families, amassing considerable economic and political power.
Tal‘at Harb, the apostle of Egyptian economic nationalism, began his career in the employ of the Suarès and Qattawi families, first at the Da’irah Saniyeh Company and then as a managing director of the Kom Ombo Company. He acknowledged his debt to the Suarèses and Qattawis and maintained close relations with the Cairo Jewish business elite. Two prominent Jewish businessmen, Yusuf ‘Aslan Qattawi and Yusuf Cicurel, collaborated with Tal‘at Harb on the Executive Committee of the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce and the Commission on Commerce and Industry. Both these institutions promoted the economic and industrial development of Egypt and served as incubators for the doctrine of economic nationalism popularized by Tal‘at Harb. In 1920, when Tal‘at Harb established Bank Misr—widely acclaimed as the embodiment of Egyptian economic nationalism—these Jewish colleagues accepted his invitation to join him as founding directors; Qattawi became vice-president of the board.
The Qattawi family claimed residence in Egypt since the eighth century, and Yusuf ‘Aslan Pasha identified himself as an Egyptian of Jewish faith. Under his leadership, the Cairo Sephardi Jewish Community Council adopted a consistent non-Zionist position. Though his grandfather apparently acquired Austrian citizenship, Yusuf ‘Aslan Qattawi must have been an Egyptian citizen because this was a condition for membership on the board of Bank Misr. His French education was not a marker of otherness or a political liability. It was a prestigious symbol of modernity and progress common to the sons of the landed elite, the business community, and many leading intellectuals of the early twentieth century, Muslims and Christians as well as Jews.
The Qattawi family's Egyptian identity was reinforced by its ties to the royal family and political activism. Yusuf ‘Aslan received the title of pasha in 1912. He was an appointed deputy for Kom Ombo from 1915 to 1922, and his parliamentary colleagues elected him to the committee that drafted the 1923 constitution. He served as a minister in the promonarchist governments of Ziwar Pasha in 1924–25, though he was forced to resign because he maintained a respectful personal relationship with the leader of the antimonarchist Wafd, Sa‘d Zaghlul. King Fu’ad appointed Qattawi Pasha to the senate in 1927. His wife, Alice (née Suarès), was chief lady in waiting to Queens Farida and Nazli. Though he was a monarchist and never supported the Wafd, Yusuf ‘Aslan Qattawi considered himself an Egyptian patriot. His nationalism was socially conservative and business oriented.
His sons, ‘Aslan Bey (1890–1956?) and René Bey (1896-?), succeeded him in both the political and business arenas. Both were educated in Switzerland, but like their father they vigorously asserted their Egyptian identity and cultivated the family's relationship with the royal family. When Yusuf ‘Aslan Pasha retired from the senate in 1938, King Faruq appointed ‘Aslan to take his father's place. The same year René was elected deputy for Kom Ombo. Both retained their positions until 1953, when the parliament was dissolved by the regime of the Free Officers.
René Qattawi inherited his father's leadership of the Cairo Sephardic Jewish community. He urged Jews to see themselves as an integral part of the Egyptian nation and in 1935 encouraged the formation of the Association of Egyptian Jewish Youth, whose manifesto proclaiming “Egypt is our homeland, Arabic is our language” called on Jews to take part in the Egyptian national renaissance. In 1943, the Arabic language Jewish weekly newspaper al-Shams (The sun) supported René Qattawi for the presidency of the Cairo Sephardi Jewish Community Council as the candidate best able to promote the Arabization and Egyptianization of the community. He was elected and served until 1946.
René Qattawi aggressively opposed political Zionism, which gained significant support for the first time during World War II. In November 1944, he and Edwin Goar, vice-president of the Alexandria Jewish community, sent a “Note on the Jewish Question” to a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Atlantic City arguing that Palestine could not absorb all the European Jewish refugees and noting Egypt's exemplary treatment of its Jews. In late 1944 and early 1945, Qattawi carried on a barbed correspondence with Léon Castro demanding that Castro close the camps operated by the Zionist youth movements. Qattawi was unable to impose his will on the Zionist elements of the community council, and this was apparently the cause of his resignation in August 1946.
The Qattawi family maintained extensive business relationships with all the leading Muslim families in the emerging Egyptian bourgeoisie of the interwar period. Such intercommunal business alliances were common among wealthy and powerful bourgeois Jews, including the Adès, Aghion, Goar, Mosseri, Nahman, Pinto, Rolo, and Tilche families. Other bourgeois Jewish families, especially the elites of the Karaite community, operated within an “ethnic economy”: Their business associates and customers were mostly other Jews.
The Cicurel family business operated midway between the fully integrated business activities of the Qattawis and similar haut bourgeois families and an ethnic economy model. Moreno Cicurel had migrated to Cairo from Izmir in the mid-nineteenth century, when both cities were part of the Ottoman Empire. The Cicurel family held Italian citizenship at the time. After working for several years in a Jewish-owned haberdashery shop in the Muski and then purchasing the shop from its owner, in 1909 Moreno Cicurel opened a large department store on what is now 26th of July Street in the heart of the European section of Cairo. Moreno's second son, Yusuf Cicurel Bey, born in Cairo in 1887, was a member of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce and one of the ten original members of the board of directors of Bank Misr in 1920, by which time the family must have acquired Egyptian citizenship. Yusuf Cicurel also participated in several of Bank Misr's ventures in the 1920s, but the family's participation in the broader sectors of the economy beyond its store declined after the 1920s.
Moreno Cicurel's youngest son, Salvator, was educated in Switzerland and worked for the family firm continuously after completing his studies in 1912, eventually becoming managing director and chairman of the board. He shared a business-oriented conception of the national project with Tal‘at Harb and the Qattawis and like them became a member of the Executive Committee of the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce in 1925. At the request of non-Wafd governments, he served on the Supreme Council of Labor and participated in an economic mission to the Sudan. Salvator Cicurel was also a patron of sports, a prominent component of bourgeois nationalist modernity in Egypt. He was the national fencing champion and the captain of the 1928 Olympic fencing team. These contributions were recognized in 1937, when he received the title of bey.
In addition to his management of the family business, active sports life, and service to the Egyptian state, Salvator was a leader of the Jewish community. He served on the Cairo Sephardi Jewish Community Council in 1927–28 and from 1939 to 1946, and in 1934 he became a founding member of the Friends of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He probably considered this a philanthropic activity because Salvator Cicurel does not appear to have been a political Zionist, though he was less adamant in his opposition to Zionism than René Qattawi. He succeeded René Qattawi as president of Cairo's Sephardi Jewish community from 1946 to 1957.
The Cicurel store developed into Egypt's largest and most fashionable department store chain: Les Grand Magasins Cicurel et Oreco. Cicurel specialized in ready-to-wear men's and women's clothes, shoes, housewares, and notions, much of which were imported from Europe. It had an excellent reputation for high quality and was a purveyor to the royal palace during the reigns of Kings Fu’ad and Faruq. The Oreco branch of the firm consisted of thrift stores serving the lower middle classes.
The Cicurel stores had a foreign cultural character due to their largely noncitizen Jewish staff, their exclusive and largely imported merchandise, and the use of French by employees and customers on the shop floors. Nonetheless, the Cicurel family regarded themselves as Egyptians and saw their business activities as contributing to the Egyptian national economy. The products they purveyed in their department stores and the cultural ambience they promoted were widely considered by the elite and upper-middle strata to be proper accoutrements of modern culture completely compatible with nationalist ideals and aspirations as they were commonly understood until the mid-1950s.
Because it was favored by the royal family, unlike the other major Jewish-owned department stores, the Cicurel firm was not placed under government administration during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The main Cairo store was damaged by a bomb on July 19, 1948, most likely the work of the Muslim Brothers, but it soon reopened. The building was destroyed in the Cairo fire of January 26, 1952, another indication that militant nationalists regarded the Cicurel store as a foreign institution. But it was rapidly rebuilt with the support of General Muhammad Naguib after the military coup of July 23, 1952. Despite the favor shown to the Cicurel firm by the new regime, by 1954–55 the two non-Cicurel family members left the board of directors and were not replaced. At the outbreak of the Suez/Sinai War, unlike in 1948, the firm was placed under sequestration. The store was quickly reopened, but the Cicurel family soon ceded its majority holding to a new group headed by Muslim Egyptians. In 1957, Salvator Cicurel left Egypt for France.
Regardless of the character of their business activity, most of the older Jewish haute bourgeoisie embraced loyalist, Egyptianist sentiments—a natural accompaniment to their comfortable lives and prominence in many sectors of the Egyptian economy. Because of their comfortable and privileged position, most of the Jewish haute bourgeoisie elected to remain in Egypt after 1948. I was able to identify 892 Jewish names in the 1947 edition of The Egyptian Who's Who. A large minority, 43.5 percent, left Egypt after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1952, 504 Jewish names were still listed in The Egyptian Who's Who. After the initial departures, most of the remaining Jewish elite continued to reside in Egypt, at least until the 1956 war. Over 37 percent of those names I could identify as Jews in the 1947 edition of The Egyptian Who's Who were still listed on the eve of the 1956 war. Some of those listed in 1947 had died in Egypt, and 170 new Jewish names that had not appeared in 1947 were added to the directory during the 1950s. So in 1956, a total of 472 Jews were listed in The Egyptian Who's Who, 52.9 percent of the number listed in 1947. As late as 1959, at least 251 Jews were listed.
Despite the clear decline in numbers, the listings of Jews in The Egyptian Who's Who affirm that between the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1956 a substantial portion of the Jewish elite remained in Egypt and continued to occupy positions in its economic life in numbers far greater than their proportion of the Egyptian population, though their role was gradually diminishing. Moreover, the Jewish elite did not, in the main, immigrate to Israel after leaving Egypt. Like Jews throughout the Middle East in the 1950s who abandoned their countries of origin with the intensification of the Arab-Israeli conflict, most of those who had a choice went to Europe or the Americas.
French Culture, Radical Politics, and Middle-Class Jewish Youth
In 1860, the Paris-based Alliance Israélite Universelle embarked on a Jewish “mission civilisatrice” to uplift and modernize the Jews of the Middle East by imbuing them with French education and culture. French opposition to British imperial policy in Egypt throughout the nineteenth century allowed many Egyptians, not only Jews, to embrace French culture as an acceptable form of European modernity. By the late nineteenth century, French was the lingua franca of the entire Egyptian business community. Knowledge of a European language was virtually a requirement for a white-collar job in the modern private sector of the economy and constituted significant cultural capital. Therefore many Egyptian Jews willingly underwent de-Arabization.
Children of the haute bourgeoisie, Muslims and Christians as well as Jews like ‘Aslan and René Qattawi and Salvator Cicurel, were often educated in boarding schools in France or Switzerland. A few Anglophile elite families sent their children to England or to Victoria College in Alexandria, where they also learned French. Upper-middle-class children typically attended a French lycée or a Catholic missionary school in Egypt. Victor Sanua, the product of such an education, estimated that more than half the students in the Catholic schools of Cairo were Jewish. A large proportion of the others were Muslims and Copts; it was not uncommon for children of very prominent Muslim families to be educated in such schools. Children of the Jewish lower middle class populated the schools of the Jewish community, where the language of instruction was French, but Hebrew and other Jewish subjects were part of the curriculum.
The political inflection of a French education in Egypt was often toward the left. Many French teachers, even in the Catholic schools, were leftists participating in a national-secular program of cultural imperialism—the mission laique (lay mission). Jacqueline Kahanoff, the daughter of an upper-middle-class Cairene Jewish family, explained why the radical ideas she absorbed at school were embraced by Christians, Jews, and elite Muslims whose families had abandoned strict religious observance and no longer lived as members of millets but were neither fully European nor fully Egyptian:
We thought ourselves to be Socialist, even Communist, and in our school yard we ardently discussed the Blum government, the civil war in Spain, revolution, materialism, and the rights of women, particularly free love. The only language we could think in was the language of Europe, and our deeper selves were submerged under this crust of European dialectics, a word we loved to use.…We blithely dismissed everything that was not left as reactionary.…Revolution, which would destroy a world where we did not have our rightful place, would create another, where we could belong. We wanted to break out of the narrow minority framework into which we were born, to strive toward something universal, and we were ashamed of the poverty of what we called “the Arab masses,” and of the advantages a Western education had given us over them.…Revolution and Marxism seemed the only way to attain a future which would include both our European mentors and the Arab masses. We would no longer be what we were, but become free citizens of the universe.
Marxism entered the Jewish schools through French teachers or emissaries from Palestine, where socialist Zionism was hegemonic. These schools became centers of the Zionist youth movements, which advocated that Egyptian Jewish youth transcend what they were by becoming Jewish nationalists. The largest and most active of these movements was ha-‘Ivri ha-Tza‘ir (The young Hebrew), the Egyptian branch of ha-Shomer ha-Tza‘ir (The young guard) that sought, usually unsuccessfully, to blend Zionism and internationalism. The youth movement was affiliated with ha-Kibutz ha-Artzi (The national kibutz federation) and, after 1948, with the MAPAM, which had a strong pro-Soviet left wing who strove to minimize the differences between their Marxist Zionism and Soviet-style Marxism-Leninism.
A second Marxist Zionist youth movement formed in 1949–50: Dror-he-Halutz ha-Tza‘ir (Freedom—the young pioneer). Dror was the youth organization of ha-Kibutz ha-Me’uhad (The united kibutz federation), which was, until 1954, mainly affiliated with MAPAM. Dror established a strong base at the Lycée de l'Union Juive pour l'Enseignment of Alexandria, where, according to one graduate, the dominant ideology was Marxism-Leninism. Students learned dialectical and historical materialism in geography class from Alexandre Roche; and Ms. Mizrahi had her nine-year-old pupils conduct monthly sessions of criticism and self-criticism.
In preparation for MAPAM's second party congress in Israel, Dror members began to discuss the positions of the party's two kibutz movements on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and other political issues such as democratic centralism. The left wingers concluded that the kibutz was not a revolutionary institution at all. Many of them adopted communist positions. After a year and a half of ideological ferment, Dror's leadership decided to liquidate the movement in June 1952. Most of the senior members became communists in Egypt, Israel, or France. Others joined ha-Shomer ha-Tza‘ir. Similar debates raged in ha-Shomer ha-Tza‘ir, though because it was a highly disciplined formation with a long organizational and political tradition, the movement was not threatened with ideological liquidation.
The indistinct boundary between fractions of the middle class and the accidental factors influencing a family's choice of school produced a large zone of intersection between the social and cultural milieux of communist and socialist Zionist Jewish youth. In the early 1950s, the boundary between communism and socialist Zionism was permeable. The same French cultural influences and the political ferment of the post-World War II era attracted some Egyptian Jewish youth to Zionism while their brothers, sisters, and cousins embraced communism.
Except for the Zionist minority, the Francophone children of the Jewish middle classes, especially the Marxists and other leftists among them, generally saw themselves as part of Egypt. They were conscious of a difference between themselves and “the Arab masses,” but they believed that it would be gradually overcome through education and social progress. The Marxists, especially the followers of Henri Curiel (see Chapter 6), consciously sought to Egyptianize themselves, though not very many succeeded by the standards of the post-1952 regime.
A large proportion of the educated Jewish middle-class youth was highly politicized, but the lives of many, perhaps the majority, like those of their parents, revolved around their families, their sporting clubs, and their future in business. Those who embraced Zionism and communism were undoubtedly sincere and deeply devoted to their chosen political ideology. These commitments entailed very different consequences in Egyptian politics. Nonetheless, Zionist nationalism and communist internationalism, which was in practice the left wing of the Egyptian nationalist movement, were both strategies for resolving the contradictions of being Jewish in Egypt that relied on the same modernist political categories. Parents and older relations were often just as displeased by youthful political activism whether it was Zionist or communist.
Nostalgias: Beyond Nationalism?
Rahel Maccabi's autobiographical memoir, Mitzrayim sheli (My Egypt), was one of the first Hebrew books to portray Jewish life in Egypt for an Israeli audience. Maccabi grew up in an upper-middle-class family in Alexandria, but her life history is exceptional. After several visits with her family, she emigrated to Palestine in 1935, joined a kibutz of ha-Shomer ha-Tza‘ir, and became an officer in the Haganah and then the Israeli army. These pioneering Zionist credentials authorized her to write about her youth in Alexandria of the 1920s and 1930s.
Maccabi's childhood milieu was almost entirely isolated from everything Arab or Egyptian. She made only the slightest effort to learn Arabic in school; even her knowledge of colloquial Egyptian was minimal, as is evident from the errors in simple Arabic words in her text. She knew of a neighborhood in Alexandria where Jews spoke Arabic, but never went there. At an early age she “came to the conclusion that the world of the Egyptians is frightening.”  Her father's family, originally from central Europe, Arabized rapidly after her paternal grandfather married into the Qattawi family and settled in Cairo. Her father was educated in Arabic and had worked for the Qattawi family in the sugar industry. Rahel and her mother avoided Cairo and her father's family, whose members they regarded as Egyptian others.
Rahel Maccabi's mother became a Zionist in 1904 by reading the British Jewish Chronicle. She belonged to a wealthy Baghdadi family that emigrated to Bombay to trade in precious stones and then moved to Egypt at the time of Napoleon's invasion. Though she was far more deeply rooted in the Arab world than her husband's family, Rahel's mother had learned to regard everything Arab as dirty, foreign, and barbaric. Internalizing this message, Rahel perceived “an unfathomable distance that separated Cairo of those days, with its Jews dressed in Eastern style and living in a quite traditional, patriarchal, primitive world, from the atmosphere in which mother grew up.”  For Maccabi, everything Egyptian was unreal, inferior, or frightening except for her exoticist memories of flowers, food, and rose water.
Mitzrayim sheli affirms the Zionist national narrative: Some Egyptian Jews became good Zionists even before 1948; they were unaffected by contact with anything Arab, and their Jewish identity was preserved by leaving Egypt as soon as possible. In the triumphalist atmosphere following Israel's overwhelming victory in the 1967 war, the publishing house of ha-Shomer ha-Tza‘ir easily found a market for this image of Egypt and its Jews. Conquest of a substantial piece of Egyptian territory in that war stimulated a desire for knowledge about Egypt that explained military victory as a consequence of civilizational superiority.
The first chapters of Mitzrayim sheli were written in 1965 and appeared as essays in Keshet, the journal of the Canaanite movement, which rejected Zionism and the concept of a worldwide Jewish people in favor of a native Hebrew identity rooted in the Middle East. In Israel of the 1950s and 1960s, it was rare to find any literary recognition of the fact that a high proportion of Jewish Israelis were born in Muslim countries of the Middle East or were children of those born there. Rahel Maccabi's acknowledgment of her birthplace was apparently sufficient for Keshet's editor, Aharon Amir, to find her writing of interest. He dubbed her essays Mitzrayim sheli. She disliked the title's suggestion of a sentimental attachment she did not feel toward Egypt and would have preferred “Qantara-West”—the last train station in Egypt on the way to Palestine. This title would clearly proclaim her Zionist trajectory, but the reference was too obscure to market to the Israeli public.
Jacqueline Kahanoff, like Rahel Maccabi, was also raised in an upper-middle-class family and educated in French schools where Zionism was a rarity among the Jewish pupils. Many of her essays, including her signature piece, “The Generation of Levantines,” were written in English, translated by Aharon Amir, and published in the late 1950s and early 1960s in the first issues of Keshet, whose outlook was far more congenial to Kahanoff than to Maccabi. Unlike Maccabi, Kahanoff felt a strong positive connection to Egypt, noting with pride that her schoolmates were “pro-nationalist as a matter of principle,” though their parents were “pro-British as a matter of business and security.”  Sensitive to her location in a potentially explosive cultural and political border zone, she consciously sought a creative Levantine synthesis:
[E]ven though we sympathized with the Muslim nationalists' aspirations, we did not believe them capable of solving the real problems of this society, and for this they could not forgive us. As Levantines, we instinctively searched for fruitful compromises, feeling as we did that the end of the colonial occupation solved nothing unless western concepts were at work in this world, transforming its very soul. We knew that Europe, although far away, was inseparably part of us because it had so much to offer. These radically different attitudes toward Europe and towards our conception of the future made the parting of our ways inevitable.
Although they wished to identify with Egypt, Kahanoff and her schoolmates had no doubt that European culture was more advanced and should be the dominant component in the Levantine synthesis she aspired to. She “wondered how those young Muslims intended to change conditions in Egypt if they did not realize that learning what the Europeans knew was the most important thing of all.”  Until 1956, she could have found many Egyptian nationalists who agreed with her. Decades after formal independence, Egypt's upper classes continued to regard the European imperial powers as cultural models. The Suez/Sinai War initiated a new phase in the process of decolonization in which bourgeois European culture was widely repudiated.
Because they felt they could not be full participants in the Egyptian national movement, Kahanoff and her Jewish friends tried to realize their youthful ideals by starting a clinic in harat al-yahud. Despite their initial success, they had to abandon the project because the head of the Jewish community in the hara accused them of advocating birth control and Zionism. They responded that the second allegation was a lie. Blocked in both the Egyptian national arena and in the Jewish community, Kahanoff left Egypt in 1940. “I loved Egypt, but could no longer bear to be part of it, however conscious I was of its queer charm, its enchantment, its contrasts, its ignoble poverty and refined splendor,” she recalled. After living in the United States and Paris and publishing a novel in English, Kahanoff moved to Israel in 1954.
Keshet was a highly regarded literary journal, though very few Israelis embraced its cultural politics. Kahanoff's celebration of Levantinism was abhorrent to the dominant Ashkenazi Zionism that required the mass migration of the Middle Eastern Jews to Israel to populate the country but detested their culture and regarded Levantinism as a curse to be avoided at all costs. Critics praised Kahanoff's sensitivity and emotional range, but Levantinism was not an idea that could elicit a serious response from the militantly Eurocentric Israeli cultural establishment. One critic who tried to consider Kahanoff's cultural formation dismissed her youthful aspirations as “fruitful illusions”—“an interesting addition to the psychology and sociology of one more exile.” 
Until Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat's visit to Jerusalem in 1977, the centrality of Egypt in the Arab confrontation with Israel made it difficult for Egyptian Jews to say anything positive about Egypt or their lives there. The al-Sadat visit created a receptive audience in Israel that enabled Jews from middle-class backgrounds in Cairo and Alexandria to contest Rahel Maccabi's representation of the Jewish experience in Egypt. Remembering Egypt in a positive light allowed them to reclaim their places as cultural, and in some cases economic, intermediaries. Post-1977 memories of Egypt generally reject Maccabi's colonialist Orientalism and insist that there was much that should be valued in Jewish life in Egypt. For this generation, Jacqueline Kahanoff's work is a point of departure. In the hopeful atmosphere following al-Sadat's visit to Jerusalem, her essays were collected in a warmly received book, Mi-mizrah shemesh (From the east the sun). A review in an avant garde literary magazine endorsed her revalorization of Levantinism. Such critical receptivity, though far from unanimous, was encouraged by the soaring hopes for peaceful normalcy in Israel.
Yitzhaq Gormezano-Goren's Kayitz aleksandroni (An Alexandrian summer), a semiautobiographical novel recalling his family's last summer in Alexandria before they emigrated to Israel in December 1951, also appeared during the post-al-Sadat visit euphoria. Like Kahanoff, Gormezano-Goren relishes the hybrid Mediterranean identity of Egyptian Jews. His story begins with a sardonic lesson in cultural geography: “Yes, precisely Mediterranean. Perhaps it is by virtue of this Mediterraneanism that I sit here and spin this tale. Here, in the Land of Israel, which lies on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Sometimes you wonder if Vilna is really the Jerusalem of Lithuania or if Jerusalem is the Vilna of the Land of Israel.” 
The novel is suffused with unstable dualities and shifting identities. The narrator is and is not Robbie, the ten-year-old son of a midlevel employee of the Ford Motor Company. The middle-class propriety of Robbie's Jewish family is undermined by homoeroticism, which his mother identifies as Arab. The Muslim servants of the family speak French. Many of the central characters of the novel are not exactly who they seem to be and slip easily in and out of ostensibly incompatible roles. The retired jockey, Joseph Hamdi-‘Ali, is a Turkish Muslim who has converted to Judaism. His son, David Hamdi-‘Ali, is also a jockey but does not have his father's single-minded passion to win. David's rival, Ahmad al-Tal‘uni, embodies Muslim Egyptian aspirations and resentment of the privileged foreigners and minorities. The competition between them ignites chauvinist rioting. Yet al-Tal‘uni is not a typical Egyptian, but a bedouin favored by the wife of the British consul. Because of al-Tal‘uni's appetite for victory, Joseph Hamdi-‘Ali regards him as his spiritual heir and a more worthy successor than David. Rabbi Ferrara consistently refers to Joseph by his Muslim name, Yusuf. Toward the end of his life, Joseph Hamdi-‘Ali worries that Allah may punish him for converting. In the style typical of the rationalist intelligentsia of the Iberian convivencia, the one God shows different faces to Muslims, Christians, and Jews.
Kayitz aleksandroni received several positive but patronizing reviews that avoided engagement with the themes of the book and treated it as a light and pleasant diversion or background to current political developments. Reviewers who noticed Gormezano-Goren's valorization of Mediterraneanism were distressed by it. One did not understand the passage about Vilna and Jerusalem and wondered if it could mean that Israel was a foreign implant in the Middle East. Another found nothing at all positive in Gormezano-Goren's memories of Alexandria and concluded, “if this is Mediterraneanism, then it is better for us for now to remain on the coast of the Baltic Sea.” 
Perhaps in response to such arrogant Eurocentrism, the second volume of Gormezano-Goren's projected Alexandria trilogy, Blanche, has a more sharply anti-Ashkenazi tone. Unlike Jacqueline Kahanoff, Gormezano-Goren is not sure that Europe should be the dominant element in the Mediterraneanism he advocates. But he is not naive, and Blanche directly engages the historical processes that led Jews to “leave the flesh pot of Alexandria in exchange for the food ration books of the early 1950s in Israel.” But Gormezano-Goren is equally conscious of the loss of his community's distinctive heritage. Raphael Vital, who sang in the taverns of Alexandria, lost his voice “in the desolate desert between Alexandria and Be’ersheba.”  Although modulated by years of accommodation to Israeli Euro-Zionist discourse, the reassertion of Middle Eastern Jewish identity following the 1977 electoral victory of the Likud and the peace with Egypt enabled Yitzhaq Gormezano-Goren to attempt to retrieve this Egyptian Jewish voice.
Blanche was not well received by reviewers. The influential Dan Miron dismissed it as “Alexandrian kitsch” and pronounced the whole genre of Mediterranean Jewish writing to be “an entirely marginal phenomenon” in Hebrew literature. Tamar Wolf also denounced Blanche as “Alexandrian kitsch” (perhaps one of these critics was less than entirely original) and, with unwarranted self-confidence, she scolded Gormezano-Goren for anachronistically inserting Flash Gordon and Superman cartoons into Alexandria cinemas of the 1940s. She apparently believed that, like so much that is valued and recognized by Israeli yuppie culture, they were a commodity of the 1980s.
I suspect that one element of Blanche that offended the critics, though none of them dared to refer to it, is the portrayal of Zionist activity in Alexandria in the late 1940s as a dilettantish and ineffectual Ashkenazi-initiated project with no appeal to the young members of Robbie's family except for cousin Rosie and the superficial and flighty Raphael Vital. Characters in Kayitz aleksandroni and Blanche acknowledge that there is no future for Jews in Egypt, but Gormezano-Goren is ambivalent about the Zionist resolution of their problem. In an interview after Blanche appeared, Gormezano-Goren ridiculed the heroic pretensions of Zionism: “Operation Susannah in 1954, during which Jews were arrested and hung in Egypt, revealed the infantile Zionist base there.” 
And so we return to Operation Susannah—the Israeli-led campaign of espionage and sabotage—with which we began. Robert Dassa spent fourteen years in an Egyptian prison for his role in that fiasco. In 1979, eleven years after his release, he returned to Egypt as a journalist for the Arabic service of Israeli television to cover Prime Minister Menahem Begin's visit to Alexandria. Thirteen years later he finally wrote about his memories of Egypt in his own name.Be-hazarah le-kahir (Return to Cairo) is a report of his twenty-some return trips since 1979 interwoven with a recapitulation of the events of Operation Susannah, the trial of the conspirators, and their experiences in Tura prison. Publication of this book by Israel's Ministry of Defense permitted both a long overdue payment of a debt to the author and supervision over its contents.
Did Dassa, once he was permitted to speak in his own voice about his identity, confirm Aviezer Golan's assertions about the identity of Egyptian Jews with which this chapter began? Dassa oscillates between recapitulations of well-worn elements of the official narrative—the Cairo judicial proceedings were a show trial; Paul Frank was a double agent who betrayed the network; Dassa felt no connection to Egypt —and disclosures that undermine it. Dassa grew up in a mixed Alexandria neighborhood with no apparent anti-Semitism. His parents, both twentieth-century immigrants to Egypt, were Middle Eastern Jews from Jerusalem and Yemen. Zionism was “quite an exceptional thing in the Egyptian Jewish community.”  No other members of his family were Zionists. His sister married a Muslim Egyptian and lived with him in the fashionable Muntazah district of Alexandria as of the writing of his book.
Dassa's central preoccupation is his repeated accusation that Israeli military and political authorities never assumed full responsibility for the operations he and his colleagues undertook on behalf of the state. He accuses the mythic figures in the history of Israel's security establishment-David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan—of failure to request their release in the prisoner exchange following the 1956 war because they were a political embarrassment, causing them to spend twelve more years in jail unnecessarily. By focusing on such issues, Dassa's charges reinforce the discourse of national security regulating discussion of the Lavon affair in Israel. Dassa never asks, What was the purpose behind the orders he executed? Was it justified to endanger the entire Egyptian Jewish community by ordering him and his colleagues to bomb civilian targets in Egypt? What does this activity imply about Israel's policy priorities? What was the effect of the Lavon affair on Israeli-Egyptian relations?
Dassa's confessions that he craves connection with Egypt undermine the many normative elements in Return to Cairo: “I do not come to Egypt as a tourist. I never was and never will be a tourist there. I come to it as a free citizen, and only there can I express the full feeling of liberation.”  Throughout his years in jail, Dassa yearned for Alexandria, and after leaving Egypt, he dreamed and hoped for the moment he would return. When he did revisit Alexandria, he felt as though he had never left it. Dassa concludes his account of his travails by revealing, “In order to feel complete freedom, I need to walk freely in the streets of Cairo. Only there do I feel that I really have been released.” 
Robert Dassa's admission that he requires continuing contact with Egypt is a sharp repudiation of Aviezer Golan's endeavor to contain Operation Susannah within the boundaries of the Zionist national narrative, which views Jewish authenticity and security as possible only in Israel. Dassa, even as he justifies his acts of espionage and sabotage against Egypt, like Jacqueline Kahanoff and Yitzhaq Gormezano-Goren, acknowledges that his well-being requires him to maintain a strong tie to Egypt. In fact, Dassa seems schizophrenic in a modern political universe defined by the proposition that individuals must identify with only one state.
The writings of Robert Dassa, Jacqueline Kahanoff, and Yitzhaq Gormezano-Goren attest that the currently prevailing exclusivist conceptions of national identity and national sentiment are a relatively recent construction. They do not conform to previously existing forms of political community in Egypt. And they fit uneasily in contemporary Israel.
Aviezer Golan's attempt to impose the Zionist representation of Jewish identity on the “heroes” of Operation Susannah obliterates the complex multivocality of Egyptian Jewish identities and histories. Both the Zionist vision of Jewish identity and the rearticulation of Egyptian identity in nationalist terms ultimately excluded Jews from membership in the Egyptian political community. Operation Susannah illustrates one of many instances in which Israel was actively complicit in that exclusion. Golan also shares the common Ashkenazi expectation that the Jews of the Middle East would abandon their identities and cultures in order to be absorbed into a more modern, dynamic Israel. Egyptian Jewish writing since Jacqueline Kahanoff contradicts this expectation and reveals the inadequacy of essentialist, state-centered discourse and conceptions of the nation and citizenship in both Egypt and Israel.
1. Aviezer Golan, as told by Marcelle Ninio, Victor Levy, Robert Dassa, and Philip Natanson, Operation Susannah (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), original Hebrew version: Mivtza‘ suzanah (Jerusalem: ‘Edanim, 1976). [BACK]
2. Ibid., pp. 5–6. [BACK]
3. al-Ahram, Oct. 6, 1954, p. 1. [BACK]
4. Egypt, Ministry of Information, The Story of Zionist Espionage in Egypt (Cairo: Ministry of Information ), pp. 25, 61. [BACK]
5. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Jan. 6, 1955, quoted in Don Peretz, “Egyptian Jews Today” (a report compiled for the AJC, Committee on Israel, Jan. 1956), pp. 35–36, AJC/FAD-1/Box 15. [BACK]
6. al-Musawwar, Oct. 15, Oct. 29, Dec. 17, 1954; especially Hasan al-Husayni, “Ma‘a jawasis isra’il fi al-sijn,” Jan. 7, 1955. [BACK]
7. Maurice Fargeon (ed.), Annuaire des Juifs d'Egypte et du proche-orient, 1942 (Cairo: La Société des Editions Historiques Juives d'Egypte, 1943), p. 117. [BACK]
8. Ibid., p. 118. [BACK]
9. Maurice Fargeon (ed.), Annuaire des Juifs d'Egypte et du proche-orient, 5706/1945–1946 (Cairo: La Société des Editions Historiques Juives d'Egypte ), pp. 80–86. [BACK]
10. Ernest Renan, Qu'est-ce qu'une nation? (Paris: Pierre Bordas et Fils, 1991), p. 34. [BACK]
11. Albert D. Mosseri, “L'espoir d'un vieux sioniste,” Israël 6 (no. 12, Mar. 20, 1925):1, quoted in Michael M. Laskier, The Jews of Egypt, 1920–1970: In the Midst of Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and the Middle East Conflict (New York: New York University Press, 1992), p. 51. [BACK]
12. Maurice Mizrahi, L'Egypte et ses Juifs: Le temps révolu, xixe et xxe siècles (Geneva: Imprimerie Avenir, 1977), pp. 37–44; Gudrun Krämer, The Jews of Modern Egypt, 1914–1952 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1989), pp. 126, 128. [BACK]
13. Shlomo Kohen-Tzidon, Dramah be-aleksandriah ve-shnei harugei malkhut: mehandes sh. ‘azar ve-doktor m. marzuk (Tel Aviv: Sgi‘al, 1965). [BACK]
14. For more detail on the issues in this paragraph, see Chapter 3. [BACK]
15. Laskier, The Jews in Egypt, p. 187. [BACK]
16. “Rapport presenté à l'Agence Juive Department du Moyen Orient sur la situation actuelle des Juifs en Egypte par un Juif d'Egypte ayant quitté l'Egypte vers la fin de l'année 1949,” p. 13, Matzav ha-yehudim be-mitzrayim, 1948–1952/no subdivision, CZA S20/552. [BACK]
17. Haim Sha’ul le-mahleket ha-mizrah ha-tikhon, Cairo, Mar. 12, 1950, CZA S20/552/851/71/28754. [BACK]
18. Felix Benzakein, “A History in Search of a Historian,” The Candlestick (monthly publication of Congregation Sons of Israel, Newburgh, New York), reprinted in Goshen: alon moreshet yahadut mitzrayim no. 7 (Dec. 1988):11. [BACK]
19. For an elaboration of the points in this paragraph, see Aron Rodrigue, “Difference and Tolerance in the Ottoman Empire” (interview with Nancy Reyonolds), Stanford Humanities Review 5 (no. 1, 1995):80–90. [BACK]
20. For a survey of these orientations, see Israel Gershoni and James P. Jankowski, Beyond the Nile Valley: Redefining the Egyptian Nation, 1930–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). [BACK]
21. Shimon Shamir, “The Evolution of the Egyptian Nationality Laws and Their Application to the Jews in the Monarchy Period,” in Shimon Shamir (ed.), The Jews of Egypt: A Mediterranean Society in Modern Times (Boulder: Westview Press, 1987), pp. 41, 58. [BACK]
22. Ibid., p. 34. [BACK]
23. “Pe‘ulot ha-haganah be-mitzrayim, 1947,” Avigdor (Levi Avrahami) le-ha-ramah, Sept. 1, 1947, Arkhion ha-Haganah (Tel Aviv) 14/1024. [BACK]
24. There are no statistics available, but the testimony of Egyptian Jews is nearly unanimous on this point. [BACK]
25. al-Kalim, Apr. 1, 1945, p. 2; Apr. 1, 1950, pp. 2–3. [BACK]
26. In a discussion with Maurice Farid Musa (Maurice Shammas), Chief Rabbi Haim Nahum noted that in Turkish, milla means “a people” and not a religious community and that for this reason the Rabbanite Jews called their communal council al-majlis al-ta’ifi. See al-Kalim, June 16, 1950, p. 6. Regardless of its etymology, the phrase used by the Karaite community could not but invoke the late Ottoman millet conception. [BACK]
27. al-Kalim, Apr. 1, 1945, p. 2. [BACK]
28. al-Kalim, Sept. 1, 1945, p. 10. A more secular formulation might have offered condolences to the Muslim umma or to Egyptian Muslims. [BACK]
29. al-Kalim, Nov. 16, 1945, p. 6. [BACK]
30. al-Kalim, Jan. 1, 1946, p. 6. [BACK]
31. Matatya Ibrahim Rassun, “al-Qara’un fi al-‘asr al-islami,” al-Kalim, Dec. 1, 1945, p. 5; “al-Qara’un fi misr,” ibid., June 1, 1948, p. 2. [BACK]
32. Yusuf Zaki Marzuq, “Sama‘tu…walakin lam usaddiq,” al-Kalim, June 1, 1948, p. 5. The observations of this article were confirmed by Maurice Shammas, interview, Jerusalem, May 5, 1994. [BACK]
33. For example, the editor of al-Kalim interviewed five young women during a trip to Ma‘adi sponsored by the YKJA and printed their pictures in the paper. He considered this a bold step because of the many conservative ideas and social restrictions on women prevalent in the community; al-Kalim, June 1, 1945, pp. 6–7. [BACK]
34. al-Kalim, Nov. 16, 1946, p. 12. See also the introduction to Tuvia ben Simha Levi Babovitch, In lam as‘a li-nafsi fa-man yas‘a liyya (Cairo: Jam‘iyyat al-Ikhwan al-Qara’in, 1946). [BACK]
35. Eli Amin Lisha‘, “Makanat ta’ifat al-qara’in fi misr,” al-Kalim, Jan. 1, 1947, p. 3. [BACK]
36. Rassun, “al-Qara’un fi al-‘asr al-islami.” [BACK]
37. al-Kalim, Mar. 1, 1947, p. 1; Rassun, “al-Qara’un fi al-‘asr al-islami"; ‘al-Qara’un fi misr,” ibid., June 1, 1948, p. 2. [BACK]
38. See Joel Beinin, “Writing Class: Workers and Modern Egyptian Colloquial Poetry (Zajal),” Poetics Today 15 (no. 2, 1994):191–215. [BACK]
39. “al-Qara’un fi misr,” al-Kalim, June 1, 1948, p. 2. [BACK]
40. al-Kalim, Dec. 1, 1945, p. 3; ibid., Jan. 1, 1951, pp. 4–5; ibid., Dec. 16, 1953, p. 2; ibid., Dec. 16, 1954, pp. 2–3; ibid., Dec. 16, 1955, p. 6. [BACK]
41. Rassun, “al-Qara’un fi al-‘asr al-islami"; "al-Qara’un fi misr,” ibid., June 1, 1948, p. 2. [BACK]
42. Eli Amin Lisha‘, “al-Qara’un fi misr,” al-Kalim, June 16, 1946, p. 8. [BACK]
43. Ahmad Safwat basha al-muhammi, “Quda’ al-tawa’if al-milliyya wa-tashih khata’ sha’i” “anhi,” al-Kalim, Nov. 16, 1950, pp. 4, 14. Nonetheless, when communal courts were abolished in 1955, the community publicly supported the decision. See Abu Ya‘qub, “Tawhid al-quda’,” ibid., Nov. 1, 1955, p. 2. [BACK]
44. Y K[amal], “al-Jinsiyya al-misriyya wa-a‘da’ al-majlis al-milli,” al-Kalim, Mar. 1, 1950, p. 6. [BACK]
45. Lisha‘, “al-Qara’un fi misr.” [BACK]
46. al-Kalim, Aug. 16, 1947; ibid., Oct 15, 1949; ibid., May 16, 1951; ibid., July 16, 1951; ibid., Feb. 1, 1952; ibid., Oct. 1, 1952. [BACK]
47. The only reference to anything that could be considered Zionism in al-Kalim between 1945 and May 15, 1948, a period when Zionist activity was legal in Egypt, is a letter to the editor by Lieto Ibrahim Nunu on July 1, 1945, p. 11. He encouraged Karaite youth to settle in Jerusalem because only one Karaite currently resided there, and he could not perform his religious obligations alone. This proposal was framed entirely in religious communal terms and did not use the vocabulary of political Zionism. Nunu was neither a regular contributor to al-Kalim nor a recognized leader of the community. Krämer, The Jews in Modern Egypt, p. 214, refers to this as a call for ‘aliyah. Because Krämer does not appear to have read al-Kalim, I suspect she relied on the opinion of Siham Nassar, al-Yahud al-misriyyun bayna al-misriyya wa’l-sahyuniyya (Beirut: Dar al-Wahda, 1979), p. 75. For a critique of Nassar, see Chapter 9. [BACK]
48. Testimony of Lazare Bianco (interviewed by Shlomo Barad, Mar. 6, 1985), YTM. [BACK]
49. Ibid.; Nelly Masliah, interview, San Francisco, May 8, 1992; Maurice Shammas, interview, Jerusalem, May 5, 1994. [BACK]
50. Yosef Marzuk, interview, Tel Aviv, conducted by Shlomo Barad, July 17, 1985. (Shlomo Barad kindly gave me the tape recording of this interview.) [BACK]
51. Ibid. [BACK]
52. On the biography of Yusuf ‘Aslan Qattawi, see Krämer, The Jews in Modern Egypt, pp. 94–101; Eric Davis, Challenging Colonialism: Bank Misr and Egyptian Industrialization, 1920–1941, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), pp. 93–97; Fargeon, L'Annuaire des Juifs d'Egypte et du proche-orient, 1942, p. 248. [BACK]
53. Davis, Challenging Colonialism, pp. 91–97. [BACK]
54. Krämer, The Jews in Modern Egypt, pp. 95, 195. [BACK]
55. Israël, Nov. 18, 1937, quoted in Bat Ye’or, “Zionism in Islamic Lands: The Case of Egypt,” Wiener Library Bulletin 30, n.s. (nos. 43–44, 1977):27. [BACK]
56. Krämer, The Jews in Modern Egypt, pp. 101–102. [BACK]
57. R. Cattaoui and E. N. Goar, “Le point de vue des communautés Juives d'Egypte: Note sur la question juive,” CZA S25/5218. [BACK]
58. Krämer, The Jews in Modern, pp. 201–202. [BACK]
59. See Edna Bonacich and John Modell, The Economic Basis of Ethnic Solidarity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), p. 110. [BACK]
60. On the Cicurel family and the early history of the store, see Krämer, The Jews in Modern Egypt, pp. 44–45, 101, 107, 213; Robert L. Tignor, State, Private Enterprise, and Economic Change in Egypt, 1918–1952 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), pp. 60, 66, 102; Mizrahi, L'Egypte et ses Juifs, pp. 64–65; Fargeon, L'Annuaire des Juifs d'Egypte et du proche-orient, 1942, p. 250; Nabil ‘Abd al-Hamid Sayyid Ahmad, al-Hayat al-iqtisadiyya wa’l-ijtima‘iyya li’l-yahud fi misr, 1947–1956 (Cairo: Maktabat Madbuli, 1991), pp. 38–40. [BACK]
61. Krämer, The Jews in Modern Egypt, p. 107. [BACK]
62. E. J. Blattner (ed.), Le Mondain égyptien: L'Annuaire de l'élite d'Egypte (The Egyptian Who's Who) [title varies] (Cairo: Imprimairie Française, 1947, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1959). A less comprehensive demographic analysis was performed by Ethel Carasso, “La communauté Juive d'Egypte de 1948 à 1957” (Maîtrise d'Histoire Contemporaine, Université de Paris X, 1982), pp. 31 ff. [BACK]
63. Aron Rodrigue, French Jews, Turkish Jews: The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Politics of Jewish Schooling in Turkey, 1860–1925 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990). [BACK]
64. Victor D. Sanua, “A Jewish Childhood in Cairo,” in Victor D. Sanua (ed.), Fields of Offerings: Studies in Honor of Raphael Patai (Rutherford, NJ: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1983), p. 283. [BACK]
65. Jacqueline Kahanoff, Mi-mizrah shemesh (Tel Aviv: Yariv-Hadar, 1978), p. 17. The English version of this essay, “Childhood in Egypt,” appeared in The Jerusalem Quarterly no. 36 (Summer 1985):31–41. I have corrected the omission of a critical word in The Jerusalem Quarterly version that changed a meaning entirely. [BACK]
66. For the political history of ha-Shomer ha-Tza‘ir and MAPAM, see Joel Beinin, Was the Red Flag Flying There? Marxist Politics and the Arab-Israeli Conflict in Egypt and Israel, 1948–1965 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990). [BACK]
67. Jacques Hassoun, interview, Paris, May 30, 1994. [BACK]
68. Ibid.; “Hitkatvuyot shel va‘adat hu‘l ‘im shlihim ve-‘im snifim,” especially “Du‘ah ‘al ha-tnu‘ah be-mitzrayim ve-hisulah,” July 9, 1952, YTM, Hativa 2-Hu‘l. Mekhal 1. Tik 2 and “Hitkatvuyot shel pe‘ilim ‘im ha-merkaz ba-aretz,” Hativa 2-Hu‘l. Mekhal 1. Tik 3. [BACK]
69. Laskier, The Jews of Egypt, p. 155, cites an anonymous report from the Office of the Advisor for Special Tasks of the Israeli Foreign Ministry (which I located in CZA S41/449/bet/1/851/71, June 20, 1951) claiming that in June 1951 thirty senior members were expelled from ha-Shomer ha-Tza‘ir because they considered their primary loyalty to be to the Soviet Union and Marxism rather than to Zionism and the state of Israel. Several movement leaders, including Albert ‘Amar, Ninette Piciotto Braunstein, and Benny Aharon, who were on the spot, emphatically denied this in an interview in Tel Aviv on Apr. 28, 1994. Laskier's source may have been a report composed to impugn the reputation of MAPAM. [BACK]
70. Before she became a spy for Israel, Marcelle Ninio had been a member (according to some accounts only a supporter) of ha-Shomer ha-Tza‘ir. Her brother, Isaac, was a communist. Aharon Costi (Keshet), the leader of the ha-Shomer ha-Tza‘ir branch in Dahir, was interned at Huckstep on May 15, 1948. His brother, Ralph, was a communist. Aimée Setton Beressi, was a member of the Central Committee of the communist Democratic Movement for National Liberation. Her brother-in-law, Victor Beressi, was the secretary of ha-Shomer ha-Tza‘ir in Egypt in 1950–51, and another of her relatives owned a travel agency that was critical in organizing illegal immigration to Israel. Avraham Matalon, a leader of he-Halutz, was interned as a Zionist in 1948. His cousin, Joe Matalon, was a communist. [BACK]
71. Rahel Maccabi, Mitzrayim sheli (Tel Aviv: Sifriat ha-Po‘alim, 1968), p. 90. [BACK]
72. Ibid., p. 9. [BACK]
73. Ibid., p. 30. [BACK]
74. Ibid., 10, 60, 83, 84–86. [BACK]
75. Rahel Maccabi, “Mitzrayim sheli,” Hotam, Aug. 14, 1968, p. 12. [BACK]
76. Kahanoff, Mi-mizrah shemesh, p. 17. [BACK]
77. Ibid., p. 29. [BACK]
78. Ibid. [BACK]
79. Ibid., p. 31. [BACK]
80. Jacqueline [Kahanoff] Shohet, Jacob's Ladder (London: Harvill Press, 1951). [BACK]
81. Rivka Gorfin, “Ashlayot poriot,” ‘Al ha-mishmar, Nov. 20, 1959, p. 6. [BACK]
82. Ya’irah Ginosar, “‘Otzmat ha-kfilut,” ‘Iton 77 (nos. 8–9, May-June 1978):14. [BACK]
83. Yitzhaq Gormezano-Goren, Kayitz aleksandroni (Tel Aviv: ‘Am ‘Oved, 1978), p. 9. [BACK]
84. Ibid., p.134. [BACK]
85. Ibid., p. 136. [BACK]
86. Shulamit Kori’anski, “Kmo shahar she-nirdam,” Maznayim nun (no. 1, 1979):151–52; Yisra’el Bramah, “Aleksandriah, hazarnu elayikh shenit,” Akhshav 39–40 (Spring-Summer 1979):341–44. Gershon Shaked adopts a similar attitude, explicitly consigning Kayitz aleksandroni and other novels of the same genre to the “margins of literary life” by designating it as “nostalgic-folkloric” in his authoritative history of Hebrew fiction, ha-Siporet ha-‘ivrit, 1880–1980, vol. 4 (Tel Aviv: ha-Kibutz ha-Me’uhad and Keter, 1993), pp. 173, 187. [BACK]
87. Izah Perlis, “Sipurah shel aleksandriah,” ‘Al ha-mishmar, Dec. 29, 1978. [BACK]
88. Ester Etinger, review of Kayitz aleksandroni, Yerushalayim 13 (no. 3, taf shin lamed tet):92. [BACK]
89. Yitzhaq Gormezano-Goren, Blanche (Tel Aviv: ‘Am ‘Oved, 1987), pp. 80, 81. [BACK]
90. Dan Miron, “Ha-genrah ha-yam-tikhoni ha-yehudi ba-safrut ha-yisra’elit, Ha-‘olam ha-zeh ”, Apr. 8, 1987. Miron also discusses Amnon Shamosh's novel, Mishel ‘azra safra u-vanav, set in Aleppo. [BACK]
91. Tamar Wolf, “Kitsh aleksandroni,” ‘Iton 77 (no. 87, Apr. 1987):7. [BACK]
92. Anat Levit, interview with Yitzhaq Gormezano-Goren, Ma‘ariv, Feb. 6, 1987. [BACK]
93. Robert Dassa, Be-hazarah le-kahir (Tel Aviv: Misrad ha-Bitahon, 1992). [BACK]
94. Ibid. p. 7. [BACK]
95. Ibid., pp. 18, 30. [BACK]
96. Ibid., p. 14. [BACK]
97. Ibid., pp. 11, 12. [BACK]
98. Ibid., p. 13. [BACK]
99. Ibid., p. 15. [BACK]
100. Ibid., pp. 100, 102, 105, 106. [BACK]
101. Ibid., p. 8. [BACK]
102. Ibid., p. 10. [BACK]
103. Ibid., p. 111. [BACK]