3. Citizens, Dhimmis, and Subversives
If Arab blood is shed in Palestine, Jewish blood will necessarily be shed elsewhere in the Arab world despite all the sincere efforts of the governments concerned to prevent such reprisals.
Soon after the outbreak of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Israeli government and diaspora Jewish organizations such as the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, and B'nai B'rith began issuing alarming reports about the treatment of Jews in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world. They were outraged by internments, sequestrations of property, physical attacks by urban crowds, and discriminatory measures directed against Jews. Jewish and Israeli spokespersons also objected when Egypt banned Zionist activity, which had been legal until 1948, suggesting that it was an inalienable human right of Jews to engage in political activity on behalf of a state at war with Egypt.
These public condemnations of violations of Jewish rights were framed by the secular-liberal discourse of citizenship and rights that developed in Europe between the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. They assumed, or affected to assume, that Jewish life in Egypt could and should remain uninfluenced by the Arab-Israeli conflict. According to the principle that the nation-state represents all its citizens who share equal rights and obligations, it was unjust to mark Jews for discriminatory treatment.
The Zionist project justified itself in terms of the same post-Enlightenment discourse of citizenship and rights. But Zionist discourse also drew on illiberal, organicist conceptions of the nation because it did not seek to represent actually existing Jews, but the “new Jewish man” (often defined in explicitly masculine terms) who would be created in the Jewish state. Israel's treatment of its own minority population was no better, and arguably worse, than Egypt's treatment of its Jews from 1948 to 1956. Most of the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel were subjected to a military government until 1965, and their lands were subjected to large-scale expropriations for development projects such as “Judaizing the Galilee.” Arab citizens were denied membership in Israel's leading trade union (the Histadrut) and consequently often employment as well, in accord with the labor Zionist principle of Jewish labor (‘avodah ‘ivrit). Thus the Zionists who called Egypt and other Arab states to task for failing to apply consistently liberal principles in the treatment of their Jewish residents were also inconsistent in their own ideology and practices. International public opinion generally failed to note this incongruity because after World War II, denial of Jewish rights was widely recognized as a crime against humanity and a symptom of fascist politics, while denial of Palestinian Arab rights, when it was acknowledged at all, was typically regarded as an accidental and inconsequential side effect of making the desert bloom.
Zionist criticism of Egypt's treatment of its Jewish population had multiple purposes. It was an expression of concern for the fate of fellow Jews; it was a propaganda weapon in the conflict with Israel's Arab adversaries; and it was a demonstration of the correctness of the Zionist solution to “the Jewish problem.” The catalogs of violations of Jewish rights compiled by Israel and Jewish organizations certainly contain a measure of truth, but they are fundamentally flawed as characterizations of the circumstances of Jewish life in Egypt. Informed by a neolachrymose fatalism about diasporic Jewish life and exaggerated fears of an imminent recurrence of Nazi-style persecution, they rarely provide the historical and political context necessary to judge the import and seriousness of violations of Jewish rights.
Anti-Semitic sentiment and action in Egypt are distinctly twentieth-century phenomena that became factors of public consequence because of the exacerbation of the Arab-Zionist conflict in Palestine and sympathy for Italy and Germany in certain political circles (especially the officer corps) whose members understood fascism primarily as a challenge to British imperialism. From the late 1930s on, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism were increasingly indiscriminately commingled. But not all political tendencies were equally culpable. Anti-Semitism was concentrated in political groups with an Islamist or ultranationalist orientation, most notably the Society of Muslim Brothers and Young Egypt. In contrast, many politically influential Egyptians, including most supporters of the Wafd and its major rival, the Liberal Constitutionalist Party, continued to endorse secular-liberal conceptions of the national community.
No discussion of the status of the Jews in Egypt after 1948 can be convincing without acknowledging that from 1948 to 1979 Israel and Egypt were in a state of war. It is simply not credible to assert that Egypt's invasion of Israel on May 15, 1948, was motivated by anti-Semitic malice. The strife between Egypt and Israel was part of a regional political and military conflict that grew out of the clash between Zionist settlers and indigenous Palestinian Arabs over the land and the labor markets of Palestine/Eretz Israel. In the course of the conflict, both camps engaged in racist denigration of the other side, a common aspect of the propaganda of twentieth-century warfare. Egyptian Jews were contradictorily interpellated by their status as citizens or noncitizen permanent residents (legally defined as “local subjects” without citizenship), their status in Islamic civilization as dhimmis (ahl al-dhimma—a “protected” people possessing a recognized holy book), and the real or imagined security threat they posed to the Egyptian state. Ultimately, the pressures of war, defeat, and scandals that discredited the entire regime rendered Jews a convenient other against whom Egypt's postcolonial political culture was defined.
The epigraph of this chapter is excerpted from the speech delivered by the Egyptian delegate to the United Nations General Assembly days before that body voted to partition Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. As a leading member of the Liberal Constitutionalist Party, Muhammad Husayn Haykal could credibly present himself as a secular nationalist who regarded the Jewish citizens of Egypt as full members of the national community. Even in the midst of the 1936–39 Palestinian Arab Revolt, his party's weekly magazine had insisted on distinguishing between the Zionist settlers in Palestine and the Jews of Egypt. Al-Siyasa al-‘usbu‘iyya (The political weekly) defended the loyalty of Egyptian Jews and affirmed their solidarity with the rest of the Egyptian public on the Palestine question. Nonetheless, Haykal correctly predicted that the Arab-Zionist conflict over Palestine would inexorably involve the Jews residing elsewhere in the Arab world. In contrast to the Jewish and Israeli tendency to deny the relationship between the Arab-Zionist conflict and the fate of the Jews of the Arab world, Haykal acknowledged that connection and adduced it as an argument against the partition of Palestine.
Haykal's statement of concern for the welfare of the Jews of the Arab world was also a veiled threat. Pointing to their vulnerability constituted an admission that the security and status of Jews were conditional and could be adversely affected by factors unrelated to their loyalty to the countries where they resided. If the physical security and welfare of a certain category of residents of Egypt could be threatened because of political developments in a neighboring country over which they had no control (and that many of them opposed), then they were obviously marked by a difference that conferred a status inferior to those not so threatened. Thus, Haykal inadvertently revealed that the government's official proclamations that Egypt did not discriminate against its Jews were as inadequate as the Zionist litany of horrors in characterizing the conditions of Jewish life in Egypt after 1948.
In effect, the Jews of Egypt were held hostage pending the outcome of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Both the Egyptian and the Israeli governments collaborated in this hostage taking, which served their disparate interests. While minorities within the Jewish community embraced the official perspectives of the Egyptian or the Israeli government on the Arab-Zionist conflict and its implications for them, most struggled to preserve a social space that would allow them to maintain both their emotional, political, and economic attachments to Egypt and their Jewish identities, even as that space was radically constricted by the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the process of decolonization in Egypt.
The Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Jews of Egypt
Before the 1936–39 Arab Revolt in Palestine, the dominant current among literate Egyptians regarded Egyptian Jews as full members of the nation. Secularist political commentary carefully distinguished between Judaism and Zionism. The sharp Arab-Jewish clash over the Wailing Wall/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem in 1929 seemed to legitimize the representation of the Arab-Zionist conflict as a Muslim-Jewish religious dispute and to undermine secularist conceptions of the Egyptian polity. In response to Egyptians who began to portray the conflict in religious terms and who indiscriminately associated the Jews of Egypt with the Zionists in Palestine, al-Ahram editorially reaffirmed the secular basis of Egyptian nationalism by evoking the slogan of the 1919 nationalist uprising—“Egyptians above All: Religion is for God and the Homeland is for All.” 
The Society of Muslim Brothers promoted the Palestinian cause during the Arab Revolt and thereby established itself as a major force in the Egyptian political arena. The Society organized volunteers and material aid to support the armed struggle and conducted a propaganda campaign embracing Palestine as a Muslim and Arab cause. As a means of exerting pressure on Zionist policy in Palestine, the Muslim Brothers called for a boycott of Egyptian Jewish merchants, most of whom were not Zionists—an expression of the organization's unwillingness to distinguish Jews from Zionists.
During the Arab Revolt, the Islamist, pan-Arab, and national chauvinist press in Egypt began publishing attacks on Jews, not only Zionists, repeating some of the same anti-Semitic stereotypes then circulating in Europe. The pan-Arab journal al-Rabita al-‘Arabiyya (most of whose contributors were not Egyptians) complained about Jewish economic domination of Egypt, as did the press of the fascist-style Young Egypt organization. In declaring a boycott of Jewish stores as part of its “buy Egyptian” campaign, Young Egypt affirmed that it did not regard Jews as “real Egyptians.” Supporters of Young Egypt were also arrested for engaging in anti-Jewish propaganda and attempting to bomb Jewish neighborhoods. From 1936 until the end of the monarchy, it was primarily the Islamist, national chauvinist, and pan-Arab political currents opposed to both the Wafdist and the Sa‘dist governments that ruled from 1936 to 1937 and 1942 to 1952 that emphasized the Palestine question as an issue in Egyptian politics.
The first indication that there might be a popular base in Egypt for militant anti-Zionism spilling over into anti-Semitism was the anti-Jewish rioting of November 2–3, 1945. In mid-October the Front of Arab and Islamic Associations, including Young Egypt, the Muslim Brothers, and the Young Men's Muslim Association, called for demonstrations and a general strike on the anniversary of the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, a traditional Arab day of protest against Zionism. On November 2, thousands of people marched to ‘Abdin Square in Cairo, where they were addressed by the supreme guide of the Muslim Bothers, Hasan al-Banna. Following the rally, some demonstrators entered the Jewish quarter and attacked bystanders, shops, and synagogues. The rioting continued the next day and spread to the modern European sections of Cairo and to Alexandria, where its main victims were non-Jews. Six people were killed, several hundred were injured, and dozens of Jewish-, Coptic-, and Muslim-owned stores were looted. The most serious incident was the burning of the Ashkenazi synagogue in Cairo's Muski quarter. If we believe that there is a logic to the collective action of crowds, the selection of this target suggests that the most vulnerable Jews were those most closely identified with Europe. This conclusion is strengthened by the prominence of Greek casualties in Alexandria.
Prime Minister al-Nuqrashi, King Faruq, and the secretary general of the newly formed League of Arab States, ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Azzam Pasha, all denounced the violence against Egyptian Jews. The king invited Chief Rabbi Haim Nahum for an audience, and the prime minister visited some of the riot sites. Most of the Egyptian press also condemned the riots. Egypt's leading political figures opposed the assaults on Jews largely out of fear that such attacks might destabilize the regime and strengthen their political opponents. Such self-interested motives are often more reliable in political life than pious statements of principle. But political self-interest is also subject to recalculation in changing circumstances.
The riots of November 2–3, 1945, highlighted the vulnerability of the Jewish community to the consequences of the conflict over Palestine. The riots represented the first occasion in modern Egyptian history that Jews were collectively threatened by physical violence and marked the growing strength of political forces unwilling to regard Jews as full members of the Egyptian nation under any circumstances. However, the riots did not initiate a period of unremitting, escalating hostility toward Jews in Egypt. Moreover, even at this bleak moment, there were Muslims and Copts who acted collectively and risked their own safety to defend Jews and uphold the principle of a secular national polity. According to Rif‘at al-Sa‘id, all the members of the Democratic Movement for National Liberation (HADETU) in his hometown of Mansura stood guard in front of a Jewish-owned store to protect it from harm by local demonstrators. This quasi-legal Marxist organization so strongly insisted on the principle of maintaining a sharp distinction between Jews and Zionists and between citizen and noncitizen Jews that HADETU members in Mansura were willing to compromise their own personal security by participating in a public demonstration that allowed the police to inventory the entire local membership.
After the riots of November 2–3, 1945, Chief Rabbi Nahum wrote to Prime Minister al-Nuqrashi on behalf of both Zionist and non-Zionist Jewish leaders protesting the violence against the Jewish community. His letter complained about the desecration of the Ashkenazi synagogue with special vehemence. But even as Rabbi Nahum articulated the grievances of the Jewish community and requested protection by the state authorities, he validated the official Egyptian discourse on Egyptian-Jewish relations by affirming that the Jewish community had been enjoying equal rights and asserting (incorrectly) that there had not been a synagogue desecration in Egypt since the advent of Islam.
Many Egyptian Jews believed that because they had been enjoying high status, substantial economic power, and full religious freedom, they could serve as mediators in the Arab-Zionist conflict. Responding to a lecture on Arab-Jewish relations delivered at the Alexandria Jewish Community Center by Taha Husayn in November 1943, Maurice Fargeon, an acknowledged Zionist, wrote,
We have always hoped that a movement of Jewish-Arab rapprochement would be initiated by the Jews of Egypt. By their geographical position, the Jews of this country are particularly well-placed to serve as a connecting link between these two vital branches of the human family tree, Islam and Judaism. Jews and Arabs are brothers not only historically, but demographically. In fact, the Jews are Arabs.
After the UN partition plan was adopted and Arab-Jewish fighting broke out in Palestine, a delegation of Egyptian Jews travelled to the United States on a reconciliation mission to promote an Arab-Jewish compromise. According to Maurice Mizrahi, this mission was blessed by Prime Minister al-Nuqrashi. Believing that such efforts would only serve Arab objectives, American Zionist leaders repudiated this initiative. The details of this affair are unclear. It is unlikely that al-Nuqrashi was seriously committed to this mission and even less likely that Zionist leaders in Palestine would have been prepared to compromise their objective of immediately establishing a Jewish state in order not to endanger the Jews of Egypt. Some Zionist leaders insinuated that this intervention by Egyptian Jewish leaders was motivated by their selfish desire to preserve their status and privileges. Another way of expressing the same point would be that many Egyptian Jews did not believe that establishing a Jewish state in Palestine was in their interest if it entailed an all-out conflict with the entire Arab world.
The 1948 Arab-Israeli War
On May 15, 1948, the British departed Palestine, and Egypt invaded the country along with four other Arab armies in an effort to thwart the UN partition plan. Prime Minster al-Nuqrashi seized the opportunity to repress his internal opposition by imposing martial law. Zionism became illegal, and all the Zionist emissaries from Palestine left Egypt. The organizations they led disbanded or went underground. The Jewish community was pressured by the government and public opinion to distance itself from Zionism. Several individuals made public statements denouncing Zionism, and it seems reasonable to presume that in at least some cases they were subjected to direct or indirect coercion.
War with Israel made the status of Egyptian Jews an urgent public question. The resolution of this question proposed by secular-liberal political theory was overwhelmed by perceived security considerations and the cessation of open, reasoned debate so commonly associated with war. The al-Nuqrashi government lacked the courage, vision, and popular mandate that would have been required to articulate a bold and principled stand. Lacking firm guidance, state officials reflexively tended to protect themselves from responsibility by adopting the most conservative, heavy-handed, and security-minded approach.
Egyptian Jews were also confused. The combination of martial law, fear, and the loss of most of the community's public organs make it difficult to trace the currents of Jewish opinion. But considerable evidence challenges the common assumption in Zionist and some Egyptian nationalist and Islamist historiography that following the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli War, the main subject of discussion among the Jews of Egypt was how and when to leave for Israel.
Within days after the outbreak of war, some 1,300 political opponents of the government from across the political spectrum were rounded up and sent to internment camps. They included 300 Zionist Jews and a roughly equal number of Jewish communists. There are many discrepancies in the reports of the total number of Jews detained, and accounts do not always distinguish between Zionists and communists. The maximum number of Jewish detainees at any one time was probably about 700–800. The British ambassador reported that 554 Jews were interned at the end of June 1948, when some of the original prisoners had already been released. Hostilities ceased in January 1949, but in July, 250 Zionists and 60 Jewish communists remained interned in Huckstep (160), Abu Qir (110), and al-Tur (40).
To establish a sense of proportion without in any way justifying the practice of detaining people without trial, the internment of about 1 percent of the Jewish community by the Egyptian government during its war with Israel can be compared to the practice of the U.S. government a few years earlier. In 1942, the Western Defense Command ordered the internment of all of the 110,000 Japanese Americans residing on the West Coast. Even the families of those who served in the U.S armed forces remained interned for the duration of the war.
A martial law decree issued in late May 1948 authorized Egyptian state authorities to place under “administration” the property of anyone interned or under security surveillance. By January 1949, the property of about seventy Jewish individuals and firms was under state supervision. Included were many of the Jewish-owned department stores in downtown Cairo and Alexandria (Adès, Chemla, and Gattegno) and other well-known businesses with a high public profile (La Société d'Avances Commerciales, J. H. Perez & Co., Peltours, S.A.E.). Many of the businessmen whose assets were seized had been active Zionists and could perhaps legitimately be considered security risks (Aharon Krasnovsky, Emilio Levy, Marcel Messiqua, Roger Oppenheim). However, the Egyptian state apparatus failed to make certain distinctions critical to secular-liberal norms. For example, the members of the Perez family were not political Zionists, but the assets of J. H. Perez & Co. were nonetheless placed under administration, perhaps because they were major investors in Palestine Hotels Ltd., whose holdings included the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. A substantial quantity of property was placed under administration, though this was very far from a wholesale seizure of Jewish assets. The largest Jewish banks, insurance companies, stock brokerages, and cotton export firms were not affected because most of the wealthiest Jewish business families kept their distance from Zionism.
During the summer and fall of 1948, Jews and their property were attacked repeatedly. On June 20, 1948, a bomb exploded in the Karaite quarter of Cairo, killing twenty-two Jews and wounding forty-one. Several buildings were severely damaged. The Egyptian authorities unconvincingly blamed the explosion on fireworks stored in Jewish homes and antagonism between Karaite and Rabbanite Jews. Al-Ahram reported that the police and firemen reacted to the fire quickly and effectively. But Jewish witnesses on the scene testified that the response of the authorities was sluggish and negligent. Reports and commentary on the incident in al-Kalim were heavily censored. The editors left blank spaces in articles in several issues following the bombing to protest the government's handling of the incident and the censorship.
On July 15, Israeli planes bombed a residential neighborhood near the Qubba Palace in Cairo, killing many civilians and destroying many homes. The attack took place during the Ramadan iftar (breakfast meal), which undoubtedly amplified the anger of the victims, who began an angry march on the Jewish quarter. On July 17, the Egyptian authorities reported a second Israeli bombing attack. But there was no actual attack. Volleys of antiaircraft fire were discharged, perhaps to compensate for the army's failure to mount a defense against the previous bombing raid. In the tense atmosphere following one actual and a second alleged Israeli bombing raid on Cairo, the Cicurel and Oreco department stores located on the fashionable Fu’ad al-Awwal (now 26th of July) Street were bombed on July 19. This was followed by bombings of the Adès and Gattegno department stores on July 28 and August 1. On September 22, an explosion in the Rabbanite Jewish quarter in Cairo killed nineteen and wounded sixty-two victims. The last of the attacks against the Jews of Cairo was the destruction of the premises of the Société Orientale de Publicité, a large publishing and advertising firm that continued to operate during the war, by a bomb on November 12.
The government's response to these bombing attacks was inept and disingenuous, not because the authorities actually encouraged assaults on Jews, but because they were frightened by the apparent strength of the Society of Muslim Brothers. In mid-1948, the government became convinced that the Brothers were preparing an armed insurrection, and many members of the society were interned after the proclamation of martial law in May. On December 8, 1948, Prime Minister al-Nuqrashi officially dissolved the Society, and the state sequestered its considerable assets. In a 1950 trial, members of the Society were charged with carrying out all the bombings against the Jews of Cairo from June to November 1948. The prosecution argued that the bombings were part of a strategy to exploit the issue of Palestine to destabilize and undermine the regime.
Vigorously defending the Jewish community of Cairo against the attacks of the Muslim Brothers during a war with Israel would have risked increasing the unpopularity of a government that was already illegitimate because the 1944 elections had been rigged to exclude the Wafd from power. For Prime Minister al-Nuqrashi, sacrificing the security of the Jewish community was a small consideration compared to maintaining power. Moreover, because of the strength of the Muslim Brothers, the government may not have had the capacity to deter these attacks. In retaliation against the government's dissolution of the society, a member of the Muslim Brothers assassinated al-Nuqrashi on December 28. Unsure of its ability to obtain a speedy legal resolution that would deter the Brothers from further violence, the government arranged the assassination of Hasan al-Banna. The Egyptian government correctly assessed the seriousness of the challenge posed by the Muslim Brothers and lacked confidence in its capacity to counter it. The Jewish community found itself positioned between two contending forces, neither one of which regarded its interests or its security as a priority.
The government claimed to be acting only against Zionists, but the import of its actions was complicated by the fact that the Egyptian communist organizations had endorsed the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state. On several occasions Prime Minister al-Nuqrashi lectured the British ambassador, Sir Ronald Campbell, and other British officials on his belief that all “Jews were potential Zionists, but that anyhow all Zionists were communists, and he looked at the matter as much from the point of view of communism as from the point of view of Zionism.” 
Al-Nuqrashi apparently believed this nonsense. His personal anti-Semitism and political ineptitude may be a good part of the explanation for the government's disingenuous proclamations, inconsistent and excessive security measures, and failure to physically protect the Jews of Egypt in 1948. Other factors would include the government's poor intelligence, political confusion, and weak executive capacity. The cosmopolitan style of al-Nuqrashi's successor, Ibrahim ‘Abd al-Hadi, reassured the Jewish community, and there were no violent incidents directed at Jews for several years after he assumed office.
The detentions and property sequestrations of 1948 were erratic. Some notable Zionist leaders, like Léon Castro, were not arrested. Others were interned months after the war began. The wealthy fruit and vegetable exporter, Isaac Vaena, was interned though he was not a Zionist. The inconsistency of the Egyptian government's actions encouraged multiple interpretations of their import. The detentions and sequestrations were a substantial threat to the security of the Jewish community. But their relatively modest scale and the fact that a few Zionists escaped them altogether encouraged some Jews to believe that their future in Egypt might resemble the comfortable and privileged lives many of them had led for the past several generations.
The 1948 Arab-Israeli War and its consequences made emigration to Israel a popular option in the Egyptian Jewish community for the first time. According to the Jewish Agency, 16,514 Jews left Egypt for Israel between 1948 and 1951. The overwhelming majority of the departures were concentrated in 1949 and 1950. In addition, some 6,000 Jews emigrated to destinations other than Israel during these years. Among those were Jewish communists who were expelled from Egypt or voluntarily emigrated to France (small numbers went to Italy and England as well).
Emigration declined after the Wafd returned to power in January 1950 because many Egyptians, not only Jews, regarded rule by the only party with a substantial popular base as a sign of normalcy. From 1952 to 1956, 4,918 Jews left Egypt for Israel, while perhaps 5,000 others embarked for destinations in Europe, North America, and South America. Approximately 50,000 Jews remained in Egypt on the eve of the 1956 Suez/Sinai War.
Sephardim tended to remain in Egypt for longer than Ashkenazim. According to research carried out by the World Jewish Congress, there were 68,000 Jews in Egypt in 1950–65,000 Sephardim and 3,000 Ashkenazim. By 1954, the World Jewish Congress counted 45,000 Jews—44,900 Sephardim and 100 Ashkenazim. Perhaps the Ashkenazim took the sacking of their synagogue in 1948 as a sign of imminent danger. Ashkenazim were also more likely to have connections in Israel or outside the Middle East. Alsatians who came to Egypt when their homeland was annexed to Germany or Russians who fled pogroms commonly had relatives in Western Europe or North America. Sephardim, especially the largely Sephardi business elite, were typically more rooted in Egypt and were more reluctant to leave. The World Jewish Congress study does not include the Karaites, whose numbers should be added to its estimate of the total number of Jews in Egypt in the early 1950s. There are no reliable statistics for the Karaites, but my estimate is that at least 60 percent of the roughly 5,000-member community remained in Egypt until 1956, and over 20 percent remained until the early 1960s. These figures suggest that Jews who were more assimilated to Arabo-Egyptian culture tended to remain in Egypt longer.
There are no accurate figures indicating how many Jews emigrated to destinations other than Israel or their social characteristics. In general, except for the minority of committed Zionists, poorer families tended to go to Israel and wealthier families tended to go elsewhere. Youth were more inclined to emigrate than the older members of the community.
From the point of view of Zionist historiography, the most important theme of the period 1948–56 is the heroism of the local Zionist activists and the Israeli agents in organizing ‘aliyah from Egypt. The central debates revolve around the relations among rival factions of the Zionist movement, whether the local activists or the emissaries from Israel deserve the most credit for organizing the ‘aliyah, and whether or not there could have been a greater number of ‘olim (immigrants) if the Zionist authorities had acted more wisely. Such accounts typically feature the daring exploits of individual Zionist leaders and the ineptitude, corruption, or indifference of Egyptian officials who contributed to the success of the ‘aliyah effort. Some Egyptian Zionist activists claim that the quotas imposed on Jewish immigration from Egypt by the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem in June 1950 hindered their efforts and radically reduced the number of ‘olim, and they hint that these quotas were imposed for racist reasons.
Zionist discourse presumed that Jewish life in Egypt was over and that Jews who did not understand this were victims of false consciousness or otherwise misguided. One Jewish Agency official responsible for supervising ‘aliyah organizing in Egypt explained that Jews were “afraid to take the opportunity for ‘aliyah ” despite all that had happened in 1948. But most of the Jews who remained in Egypt after 1950 were not sitting on their suitcases waiting for an opportunity to leave. Rather, they were struggling to maintain their multiple identities and to resist the monism of the increasingly obdurate Zionist and Egyptian nationalist discourses even as the social space in which it was possible to do so was gradually constricting.
This constriction of social space was most evident in the formal and public articulation of the relationship between the Egyptian state and Jewish residents. In November 1949, an article in al-Kalim, the only Jewish communal periodical still publishing, protested that Jews born in Egypt, even some whose families had resided continually in the country for 500 years, had difficulty establishing their citizenship and obtaining passports. Similar grievances had been voiced in the Jewish community since the late 1930s, and they seem credible.
Nonetheless, the Karaite community continued to take every opportunity to demonstrate loyalty to Egypt and its political order. Much of the issue of al-Kalim for May 16, 1951, was devoted to celebrating the wedding of King Faruq and Narriman Sadiq. The Egyptian public was by then disgusted by Faruq's dissolute public behavior and looked askance at his second marriage because his first wife, Queen Farida, had been quite popular. Al-Kalim avoided any hint of these unpleasant topics and printed a qasida by Murad Farag and colloquial azgal by two other poets composed for the occasion. This demonstrative celebration of the royal wedding may have been a reflexive and preemptive gesture to stave off accusations of disloyalty or an expression of the traditionally warm relationship between the royal palace and elite Jews. But the ability of the small Karaite community to produce individuals capable of composing publishable poetry in both standard and colloquial Arabic was, in and of itself, an expression of cultural affinity with Egypt.
Functionaries of the state apparatus routinely abused citizens and extorted bribes for rendering ordinary services. Some Jews believed that their ambiguous status exposed them to more frequent victimization than non-Jews. Reports of Jews obtaining official documents or transacting business with the state apparatus by paying bribes are common.
To the extent that the state apparatus did discriminate against Jews in these ways, the practice was regarded critically in at least some influential non-Jewish circles. In 1951, an officer of the political police (al-qalam al-siyasi) stopped Césare Slamun, a wealthy businessman, on a main street in downtown Cairo, intending to arrest him. Slamun tried to convince the officer to release him by arguing that “It was true that he was a Jew, but he was an Egyptian above all and his arrest would harm him and his business.”  After paying a bribe of £ E 200, a huge sum at that time, Slamun was released. When even a wealthy Jew who considered himself “an Egyptian above all” was exposed to arbitrary harassment and extortion, the weekly al-Musawwar critically reported this incident, along with several other short items satirizing the political police. Al-Musawwar's editor, Fikri Abaza, was a wealthy, cosmopolitan Muslim into whose family at least one Jew had married.
Césare Slamun asserted that his status as an individual Egyptian citizen of substantial wealth who was contributing to the development of the national economy ought to protect him from arbitrary treatment by the police—a valid argument according to the prevailing understanding of secular-liberal nationalism. But the 1948 war accelerated the decline of secular-liberalism in Egypt and enhanced the tendency to regard Jews as a corporate group of suspect status collectively responsible for their good behavior. Simultaneously, Egyptian state officials, conscious of international criticism of the treatment of Jews in the Arab world, sought to project themselves as responsible and mature—in Euro-American terms—and capable of protecting the welfare of the Jewish community.
Both the Jewish community and Egyptian state officials sometimes represented their relationship as one that might be termed neo-dhimma—a concept that emphasized mutual obligation and equity, as opposed to civic rights and responsibilities. It drew on elements of the Islamic cultural repertoire for validation: the Qur’anic definition of Jews as dhimmis and the institutionalized form of Muslim-Jewish relations in the late Ottoman Empire, the millet system. This legacy provided Egyptians and Jews with a culturally authorized alternative to a discourse of rights and citizenship.
Of course, I do not mean to suggest that Muslim-Jewish relations in post-1948 Egypt simply reproduced a timeless Islamic model. The textually based classical model was always already inflected by local histories and particular circumstances that gave it a dynamic social history. Moreover, the discourse of neo-dhimma was intermittently deployed concurrently with the secular-liberal discourse of rights and citizenship, sometimes by the same people on different occasions. This generated hybrid practices that were easily destabilized by the state of war between Egypt and Israel and the consolidation of an authoritarian nationalist security state in Egypt after 1954.
Even in public discussion of relatively minor issues, the discourse of neo-dhimma suggested significant changes in the social position of Jews after 1948. For example, an article in al-Ahram criticized the Karaite neighborhood in Cairo for being unkempt and dirty, noting that this site was visited by tourists wishing to see the old Torah scroll in the Dar Simha synagogue. The author called on the authorities to clean up the Karaite quarter to preserve the honor of the Egyptian state.Harat al-yahud al-qara’in was adjacent to the Muslim quarters of the Muski, the Khan al-Khalili, and Bayn al-Qasrayn, which were also in disrepair and even more frequently visited by tourists. Al-Ahram's reporter apparently did not consider their condition dishonorable to the Egyptian state. The problem seems to have been that the state's honor could be impugned by failure to exercise good stewardship over a dependent population.
A very different tone informs articles in al-Kalim written by Karaites about their neighborhood before the 1948 war. They proposed that the Karaite communal council approach the public works department and request paving of the streets, installation of street lights, and other improvements, or they suggested that the Karaite residents themselves carry out these improvements. The language of al-Kalim seems appropriate to citizens with a secure sense of rights, whereas the language of al-Ahram implies that the Karaite neighborhood and its residents were wards of the state, which should maintain proper appearances lest it be criticized by foreigners.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the reputed inability of the Egyptian state to safeguard the welfare of non-Muslims was frequently adduced by European powers as an excuse for intervening in Egypt. Protection of minorities was one of the four points on which Great Britain reserved the right to intervene after declaring Egyptian independence in 1922. In this historical context, al-Ahram's concern for the Karaite quarter might have been motivated primarily by a desire to avoid its condition becoming an excuse for foreign interference in Egypt's affairs.
Days after the Free Officers coup of July 23, 1952, in accord with the Talmudic precept that “The law of the kingdom is the law,” Chief Rabbi Nahum sent a telegram to General Muhammad Naguib, the titular head of the new regime, affirming that “The Chief Rabbi and the Jewish communities in Egypt supported the revolution and asked God for its success.”  Whatever Rabbi Nahum's political views, this statement was a pro forma, but nonetheless expected, gesture establishing correct relations between the Jewish community and the new regime. In offering it, Rabbi Nahum conducted himself exactly as the head of an Ottoman millet would have acted in delivering the allegiance of his community to a newly installed sultan. Because he had served as chief rabbi of Istanbul before coming to Egypt in 1924, this was certainly a familiar role for Nahum.
A few days later, General Naguib responded in kind by issuing a statement on the importance of maintaining good relations with ahl al-dhimma. Naguib's resort to the classical Islamic terminology suggests an attitude of benevolent paternalism toward the Jewish community and implies that he did not regard Jews as full and equal members of the Egyptian national polity. But Naguib extended himself far beyond formulaic statements in seeking to establish good relations with the Jewish community and unequivocally invoked the secular-liberal discourse of citizenship and rights. On Yom Kipur of 1952, Naguib visited the main synagogue of Cairo on ‘Adli Street and met with Rabbi Nahum, the first and only courtesy visit by a head of state to a chief rabbi in modern Egyptian history. Several days later, Karaite Chief Rabbi Babovitch and two leading members of the Karaite community, Lieto Barukh Mas‘uda and Murad al-Qudsi (Mourad El-Kodsi), called on General Naguib in his office. Mas‘uda affirmed the Karaites' Egyptian identity, and after a friendly discussion Naguib agreed to pay a return visit to the Karaite community. On October 25, Naguib visited the Karaite synagogue in ‘Abbasiyya and signed the guest register with a salutation declaring, “There is no difference between Jews, Muslims, or Christians. Religion is for God. The nation is for all.” Murad Farag composed a poem to mark the occasion of the official visit.
Naguib may not have noticed the contradiction between his reference to non-Muslims as ahl al-dhimma and his use of the secularist slogan of the 1919 revolution. As a Muslim Egyptian, he could easily commingle the terminology of different discourses because in either case his own status as an authentic Egyptian was secure. The Karaite community may also not have noticed the incongruence of the two references because, as noted in Chapter 2, its own self-conception was articulated through a hybrid discourse invoking both citizenship in the Egyptian nation and the older norms of the Ottoman millet system.
Despite their republican rhetoric, the Free Officers commonly continued to treat Jews as a corporate group and to consider the state responsible for maintaining the customary rights of the Jewish community. Individual Jews and the official leadership of the community acted within the boundaries defined by these expectations. For example, a March 1953 fire in the kosher oven in harat al-yahud operated by the Cairo Sephardi Jewish community destroyed most of the matzahs prepared for the upcoming Passover holiday. Chief Rabbi Nahum wrote to the minister of supply requesting special permission to import 20,000 kilograms of Australian or Canadian flour so that new matzahs could be baked. After some negotiation over the precise quantity of flour to be imported, the government allocated enough flour to remake the matzahs. Even though the Egyptian state was formally defined in secular terms, the obligation of Muslim rulers to respect Christianity and Judaism as religious cultures was so deeply ingrained in Egyptian society that it would have been perceived as an illegitimate act to obstruct dhimmis from performing their religious duties. Because food imports were regulated by the Egyptian state, Rabbi Nahum had to petition the authorities for an exception to the regulations to allow the Jewish community to practice its religious obligations. In so doing, he reinforced the relationship of neo-dhimma.
If a similar incident had occurred in the United States or France, Jews would never have involved these secular states in facilitating the observance of their religious obligations. The Jewish community would have relied on itself and launched a fund-raising campaign to make up the losses. The issue of receiving permission to import flour would not have been a factor because metropolitan capitalist economies typically operated under more liberal trade regimes than countries pursuing state-led development strategies.
Expressing a similar conception of the appropriate obligations of public authorities toward recognized religious communities, the presidents of the Cairo and Alexandria Jewish communities, Salvator Cicurel and Edwin Goar, wrote to the governor of the National Bank of Egypt reminding him that the religious festivals of the Christian and Jewish communities had traditionally been observed as bank holidays. The observance of Jewish holidays had been discontinued during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. After the war, several banks informally permitted Jewish employees to take these days off. Cicurel and Goar appealed to the head of the leading bank in the county, which employed a significant number of Jews, including some in senior positions, to take the initiative in reinstituting the practice of closing the bank on the Jewish high holidays, as was the practice on Eastern and Western Christmas.
This request was informed by the structure of the political economy of Egypt during the colonial era and the blend of cosmopolitan, nationalist, and Islamist discourses of the period. Jews, other mutamassir minorities, and foreigners established most of Egypt's modern banking, insurance, stock brokerage, and mortgage companies and remained disproportionately prominent in the financial sector of the economy until the 1956 war. Some nationalists regarded this as an expression of the continuing domination of Egypt by European capital. Others regarded the economic activities of the Jews as a contribution to the development of the national economy. Public observance of Jewish holidays in an overwhelmingly Muslim country was a manifestation of colonial privilege. But it could also be justified as a beneficent accommodation of the religious needs of dhimmis by a Muslim society, an explanation that avoided confronting any discomfort some Egyptian Muslims might have felt as a consequence of adopting non-Muslim customs.
Similarly, on the eve of the 1953 high holidays, Chief Rabbi Nahum wrote to the commander of the Cairo police force and to the director-general of the Ministry of War informing them of the dates of the high holidays and asking them to give all the Jews in the police and the armed forces vacations on Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kipur. A similar letter was sent to the director-general of the prison administration requesting that Jewish prisoners be freed from labor on the holidays. In fact, the overwhelming majority of Jews in prison were nonobservant communists. No Jews served in the police force and the armed services—a social distinction that distanced the Jewish community from the Egyptian state and the new conception of political community promoted by the Free Officers. But Rabbi Nahum, who was certainly aware of these circumstances, seems to have felt that it was important to preserve the principle that the state was obliged to respect the practices of recognized religious minorities.
Although the Islamic concept of dhimma acknowledged an obligation to treat Jews equitably, there was always a possibility that militant, revivalist interpretations of Islam could be used to attack Jews as nonbelievers, betrayers of the prophet Muhammad, usurers, and so forth. In February 1953, the minister of pious endowments (awqaf), Shaykh Ahmad Hasan al-Baquri, gave a talk on the state radio, subsequently reported in the press, on “The Influence of Religion in the Formation of a Proper Citizen.” The shaykh acknowledged that Judaism was a valid religion, but went on to say that today Judaism was no longer a religion and had become a racist ideology like Nazism, which should be destroyed by the free peoples of the world. He referred to Jews as swine, a particularly egregious insult in both Muslim and Jewish terms.
Rabbi Nahum wrote to General Naguib and pointed out that the minister's words contradicted Naguib's own policy statements on the status of Jews in Egypt. Nahum reaffirmed that the Jews of Egypt were faithful to their religion and loyal citizens of the state. He asked Naguib, as president of the republic, to reassure the Jewish community. In response, Naguib demanded that Shaykh al-Baquri make a formal apology to Rabbi Nahum. When al-Baquri proposed to express his regrets by telephone, Naguib insisted that al-Baquri visit Rabbi Nahum at his home and deliver a proper face-to-face apology. General Naguib, whatever his motives and his conceptual framework, seems to have been committed to preserving correct relations between the Jewish community and the Egyptian state.
In March 1954, supporters of Naguib and Abdel Nasser clashed over the question of restoring democracy or maintaining military rule. Abdel Nasser won a convincing victory, and the army remained in power. Naguib and the political groups supporting him—the Wafd, the Muslim Brothers, and the communists—were suppressed and removed from the political arena. After a member of the Society of Muslim Brothers attempted to assassinate Abdel Nasser in October 1954, the regime intensified its repression of the organized opposition forces. By late 1954, the regime was beginning to embrace pan-Arab nationalism, which was associated with a more hostile stand toward Israel and Zionism and, potentially, toward the Jews of Egypt.
Just as the power struggle between Naguib and Abdel Nasser was unfolding, Shaykh Ahmad Tahir, speaking on a religious program on the state radio, gravely insulted the Jews of Egypt, claiming that all Jews were middlemen and usurers without honor or morality. Albert Mizrahi reported this affront in his newspaper, al-Tas‘ira (The price list), and argued that such “nonsense” would be used against Egypt by its enemies and was inconsistent with the government's objectives. He noted that one of the Jewish families directly offended by Shaykh Tahir had historic roots in Egypt no less substantial than the shaykh's. Mizrahi demanded that Salah Salim, as the minister of national guidance and the authority ultimately responsible for the state radio, rebuke the shaykh, invoking the slogan, “Religion is for God and the nation is for all.” 
Interest in this incident was apparently overwhelmed by the struggle between Naguib and Abdel Nasser, which reached its climax several days after Mizrahi's intervention. Although the state apparently did not intervene in this case, as Naguib had earlier in the incident of Shaykh al-Baquri's broadcast slur against the Jews, it is still remarkable that a Jewish newspaper editor identified with the Wafd, which was an opponent of the Free Officers' regime, was willing to demand publicly that a government minister intervene to protect the reputation and status of Egyptian Jews. Albert Mizrahi seemed confident that he was acting within his rights and that his demand was legitimate according to prevailing norms.
Jewish confidence in the government's interest in preserving Jewish rights seems to have diminished after Abdel Nasser established his unchallenged supremacy and Naguib was removed from power. Nonetheless, the state continued to affirm that it recognized the Jews as a legitimate religious community, and it acknowledged its obligation to facilitate their observance of their religious obligations. On Yom Kipur 1955, the state radio went so far as to broadcast the Kol Nidrei service.
The Jewish Presence
After May 15, 1948, the public Jewish presence in Egypt diminished, even in matters unconnected to Zionism and Israel. All the Jewish community newspapers except the Karaites' al-Kalim ceased publication; the royal court refrained from acknowledging its many connections with elite Jews; and the annual public celebration of Purim in Cairo's Ezbekiyya Gardens ceased. Nonetheless, by the end of 1949, all but one of the Jewish detainees (the communist leader, Henri Curiel) had been released. The return of the Wafd to power in January 1950 suggested the resurgence of democracy, secular-liberalism, and cosmopolitanism; and many Jews began to think they might resume life as it had been before the war.
In many arenas, there was no diminution of the Jewish presence. In the early 1950s, Jews freely practiced professions with high public visibility—journalism, law, medicine, and finance. The Maccabi basketball team and other Jewish sports teams continued to compete, and Jewish athletes were members of teams representing Egypt in international competition. The hospital, schools, and other Jewish community institutions continued to function. In 1951, the London Jewish Chronicle reported that “there remained…a fairly self-sufficient community and there seemed to be no move toward mass emigration.”  This perception of a “return to normalcy” persisted from late 1949 until the announcement of the apprehension of the Operation Susannah conspirators in October 1954.
Because Jews had a higher rate of literacy than Muslims or Copts, they were disproportionately represented in the fields of publishing, printing, and journalism. In September 1950, a new pro-Wafd political weekly, al-Saraha (Frankness), edited by Albert Mizrahi, a Jewish journalist of some repute, was established with the patronage of Fu’ad Sirag al-Din, minister of interior in the last Wafd government to rule Egypt. Mizrahi also owned and edited al-Tas‘ira, a commercial weekly established in 1944 to record the official prices of commodities subject to government price controls, which continued to appear during and after the 1948 war. Al-Tas‘ira and al-Saraha ceased publication in May 1954, probably because of Mizrahi's identification with the Wafd. During its first month of publication, al-Saraha carried several articles about the Jewish community and the Arab-Israeli conflict that suggested a distinctive Jewish viewpoint, but they did not speak for or exclusively to the Jewish community. Mizrahi's principal collaborators in al-Saraha were a Muslim and a Copt, a symbolic expression of the coexistence of the three religious faiths in the Egyptian national community evoking Nagib al-Rihani's popular play, Hasan, Murqus, and Cohen, which was made into a film in 1954. Nonetheless, Mizrahi's status was not entirely secure. Late in 1952, he was arrested and briefly detained. Mizrahi had sufficient confidence in his rights as a citizen to criticize the government editorially for detaining him without charge. It is likely that Mizrahi's Wafdist sympathies, not his Jewish identity, were the cause of his difficulties.
One Jewish-owned publishing house, Dar al-Katib al-Misri (The Egyptian scribe), was temporarily closed in 1948. It soon reopened, and many Jews continued to work in publishing, as they had before the war. The Société Orientale de Publicité, whose premises had been bombed by the Muslim Brothers during the 1948 war, continued to publish Le Progrès Egyptien, La Bourse Egyptien, The Egyptian Mail, and The Egyptian Gazette. Until 1954, the editor of Le Progrès Egyptien was a Jew. Salvator Adjiman, a member of the Cairo Jewish Community Council, directed the advertising department of al-Ahram from 1932 until mid-1954, when he was arrested and charged with illegally transferring capital out of the country. E. J. Blattner continued to publish and edit the annual Le Mondain égyptien: L'Annuaire de l'élite d'Egypte (The Egyptian Who's Who) through the 1950s. The Weinstein stationery and printing firm continued to operate in Cairo under Jewish ownership as of the mid-1990s.
Jews had historically been quite popular with the Egyptian royal family. King Fu’ad bestowed Egyptian citizenship on Chief Rabbi Nahum shortly after his arrival in the country and appointed him as a founding member of the Arab Language Academy in Cairo in 1932. Both Fu’ad and Faruq had warm and respectful relations with Rabbi Nahum. Throughout his career, Nahum advocated cultural integration and loyal patriotism as the only strategy that would ensure the survival of a Jewish community in Egypt. On the night of the military coup that ended the monarchy, Rabbi Nahum's son, JoJo, attended a picnic hosted by Princess Fa’iza at White Sands in the Alexandria harbor. Madame Qattawi Pasha (née Alice Suarès) was first lady-in-waiting to Queens Nazli and Farida. The Cicurel department store, the Perlo pharmacy, and the Weinberg photography studio were all purveyors to the palace. The Cicurel store was not placed under administration in 1948, and it was quickly rebuilt after being burned in the Cairo fire of January 26, 1952, with the support of the palace. Emmanuel Mizrahy Pasha was legal counsel to the palace and the ministry of pious endowments. One of the better known of Faruq's many mistresses was the actress, Camelia (Liliane Cohen). Their liaison began after 1948.
Karim Thabit, a Lebanese journalist in King Faruq's entourage, is commonly considered responsible for persuading the king to declare war on Israel in 1948. His articles in al-Muqattam during the war were full of incitement against Jews. Faruq's failure to reprimand or restrain his courtier seems to have been motivated by political expediency or lack of attention rather than anti-Semitism because after a hiatus during the war, the palace resumed its association with elite Jews. In June 1951, the king bestowed royal decorations on Jews for the first time since the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli War, a public indication that they were once again in royal favor.
Egyptian Jews including Zaki Murad, Ibrahim Sahlun, and Zaki Surur were prominent among the revivers of Arabic music in the early twentieth century. The most famous of the Jewish musical figures is the Karaite composer Da’ud Husni (1870–1937). He was associated with the first generation of Egyptian nationalist composers including Sayyid Darwish and Kamil al-Khula’i. Husni composed the first Egyptian opera, “Samson and Dalilah”; Husayn Fawzi, a well-known nationalist intellectual, wrote the libretto for another of Husni's operas, “Cleopatra's Night”; and Husni collaborated with Sayyid Darwish, the leading figure in the revival of Arabic music in Egypt, on “Hoda”—an operetta that remained unfinished because of Darwish's death.
The editor of al-Kalim was Da’ud Husni's son, so it is not surprising that the newspaper devoted an article to his life and work every December on the anniversary of his death. The anniversary of Husni's death was also regularly observed by performances of his work and musicological conferences by non-Jewish Egyptian aficionados of Arabic music during the last years of the monarchy and the first years of the republic. In December 1949, al-Misri, al-Balagh, and al-Zaman, dailies covering a considerable range of the political spectrum, all carried articles commemorating Husni's musical achievements. A 1951 article in Akhir Sa‘a noted the nationalist spirit of Husni's music. On January 10, 1953, the Institute of Arabic Music in Cairo celebrated the bronze anniversary of Husni's death. Until at least 1955, the state radio aired a special program of Husni's music annually on his memorial date.
Husni's music is revered to this day in Egypt, though public acknowledgment of his Jewish origins seems to have diminished after 1948. This was not entirely due to reluctance to acknowledge a problematic fact in the context of the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict. Husni converted to Islam, and his second wife was a Muslim. This would ordinarily have excluded him from recognition as a Jew, yet the Karaite community proudly claimed him as one of their own and embraced his musical accomplishments as evidence of their own Arab and Egyptian cultural identity. Husni's non-Jewish Egyptian aficionados were content to overlook his Jewish origins if they might pose a barrier to enjoying his music; the Karaite community was willing to overlook Husni's conversion if it enhanced their claim to be authentic Egyptians. Thus, avoiding a sharp determination of Husni's ethnoreligious identity served multiple purposes and enhanced his appeal.
The contested character of Jewish identity and its national legitimacy in Egypt were apparent in a dispute that arose in 1955 when Israeli authorities sought to purchase the manuscripts of the nineteenth-century Egyptian nationalist Ya‘qub Sannu‘ from his daughter Layla Sannu‘, who then resided in France. She refused to sell her father's papers to an Israeli archive and told the weekly al-Musawwar, “My father was not a Jew. He was Egyptian. His legacy is the property of Egypt.” Al-Musawwar went on to explain that after four stillbirths, Ya‘qub Sannu‘'s mother had consulted a Muslim saint and promised to raise her child as a Muslim if she were blessed with a live birth. Al-Musawwar noted that Sannu‘ participated in the culture of all three of Egypt's faiths, not unlike many Egyptians, I might add.
Linking Jewish involvement in the publishing and music industries, the publishing house of Albert Mizrahi held an exclusive contract from the state radio to print the programs for Umm Kulthum's monthly concerts. During 1953, when al-Saraha and al-Tas‘ira began to appear erratically, their pages were filled with Umm Kulthum's songs. Her popular nationalist anthem "Sawt al-watan” (Voice of the homeland) was reprinted repeatedly.
Jews were also prominent among the pioneers of Egyptian cinema, especially before the establishment of Studio Misr in 1935. The films of producer, director, scriptwriter, and actor Togo Mizrahi—Cocaine (1930) and The Children of Egypt (1933)—are widely acknowledged as classics. Studio Misr encouraged more Muslims to enter the industry, and the Jewish presence became less dominant. But Jews remained disproportionately overrepresented in the film and entertainment industry through the 1950s. Among the Jewish actresses who regularly played opposite the leading Muslim actors and singers of Egypt were Victoria Cohen, Nigma Ibrahim, Layla Murad, and King Faruq's mistress, Liliane Cohen.
Layla Murad: Popular Culture and the Politics of Ethnoreligious Identity
From the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s, Layla Murad (1918–95), daughter of the composer Zaki Murad, was the leading Jewish performance artist. Dubbed the “Cinderella of the Egyptian screen,” Murad was considered by many Egypt's second diva after the inimitable Umm Kulthum. Murad first sang on stage in 1930, and she appeared in her first film in 1935. Muhammad ‘Abd al-Wahhab, a pioneer of the musical film genre and the leading male vocalist of the interwar period, was an associate of Zaki Murad and recognized Layla Murad's vocal talent. In 1938, he chose her to play the female lead opposite him in Yahya al-hubb (Long live love). Murad was an instant success as a singer. Under the tutelage of Togo Mizrahi, her acting skills developed quickly. Her career and performing persona were firmly established by her leading roles in five musical romances directed and produced by Mizrahi from 1939 to 1944 that featured her name in the titles. Murad's liaison with the debonair young actor-director-producer, Anwar Wagdi, launched a new phase of her career in 1945. Their courtship captivated the public, and they turned it into an artistic and commercial event by celebrating their marriage in the final scene of Layla bint al-fuqara’ (Layla, daughter of the poor). Murad and Wagdi costarred in six more films before their divorce in 1950. During the final phase of her career, Murad played leading roles in films directed by Henri Barakat, Husayn Sidqi, and Yusuf Shahin. After appearing in twenty-eight films and recording hundreds of songs, in 1955 Murad abruptly and without explanation retired. Thereafter, she appeared in public only on rare occasions, though she continued to live in Cairo until her death.
Among the likely factors contributing to Layla Murad's unexpected withdrawal from public performance at the height of her artistic power and popular acclaim was a report that circulated in the Arab and Egyptian press in September 1952 accusing her of visiting Israel and contributing the huge sum of £E50,000 to the Israeli government earlier that summer. Murad was especially distressed by the charges because she had publicly announced her voluntary conversion to Islam in 1946, a year after marrying Anwar Wagdi. “I am an Egyptian Muslim,” she declared, strenuously denying that she had any connection to Israel. Murad produced bank statements and other documents to prove her innocence, including a letter from Anwar Wagdi (the two had become close again since their divorce and there were rumors that they would remarry) affirming that Layla Murad was a “genuine (samim) Arab Muslim beloved by all the Arabs whom she loves in return.” Religious or political differences played no role in their divorce, wrote Wagdi. The Egyptian authorities concluded that the charges against Layla Murad were without foundation. Nonetheless, the Syrian government persisted in enforcing a total ban on her films and songs.
Despite this incident, Layla Murad remained popular in Egypt. She starred in a film every year from 1953 until 1955. Ruz al-Yusuf reported regularly on her career, openly discussing her Jewish origins. In November 1954, a poll of directors and producers voted her rendition of “Is’al ‘alayya” (Ask about me) the best song of the year, and, in December 1954, she performed in concert before an enthusiastic audience of 4,000. During the negotiations for the establishment of the United Arab Republic in 1958, President Gamal Abdel Nasser personally insisted that Syria abandon the boycott of Layla Murad's songs and films. The Syrians complied, and Layla Murad's work once again became available in Syria. Despite this unequivocal recognition of her stature and acceptance. Layla Murad could not be induced to end her self-imposed retirement and seclusion. Whether or not the unfounded rumor about her collaboration with Israel was the immediate cause of her withdrawal from the public, she seems to have felt that the milieu in which she flourished could no longer be sustained.
Religious conversions by performing artists like Layla Murad and Da’ud Husni were not unusual, but neither did they erase the Jewish identity of the converts. In February 1955, Ruz al-Yusuf related that Omar Sharif converted to Islam (according to some accounts, he was born Jewish) to marry Fatin Hamama and that Nigma Ibrahim converted from Judaism to Islam when she married ‘Abbas Yunis. There was (and continues to be) a substantial commercial market in Egypt for star-gazing gossip of this sort, and the Jewish origins of several of the stars did not diminish the public's interest in them. Aside from its commercial appeal, the main point of Ruz al-Yusuf's reporting on the religious identities of Egypt's leading actors and actresses seems to be that conversion was common among movie stars, who generally did not appear to take their religious faith very seriously. Despite apparently having been motivated by convenience rather than conviction, these conversions were reported without any pejorative tone. This suspension of moral judgment was undoubtedly facilitated because all the conversions were to Islam, and apostasy from the true faith was not an issue. The easy acknowledgment of the Jewish presence in Egyptian popular culture by a magazine with strong Arab nationalist sympathies suggests that despite the significant changes in political culture that were already apparent, important sectors of the Egyptian movie- and concert-going public continued to embrace and enjoy a cultural cosmopolitanism akin to the Levantinism or Mediterraneanism of Jacqueline Kahanoff and Yitzhaq Gormezano-Goren.
There were good reasons for Jews to be alarmed when a group of unknown army officers overthrew the monarchy and seized power on July 23, 1952. The army had no social or political links to the Jewish community. Several of the Free Officers had backgrounds in the Society of Muslim Brothers or Young Egypt, organizations that did not view Jews as authentic Egyptians. Political training in those milieux would not have included sensitivity to the rights of Egyptian Jews. Moreover, the event that precipitated the organization of the Free Officers was Egypt's ignominious defeat in Palestine in 1948, an experience likely to have bred a certain hostility toward Jews.
As previously noted, General Naguib, in his capacity as prime minister, exerted unusual efforts to maintain good relations with the Jewish community and to uphold the principle that Jews were full members of the national polity. Naguib's demise in March 1954, followed quickly by several events that exacerbated the Arab-Israeli conflict, undermined the self-confidence of the regime and virtually eliminated any possibility that the government would accept Jews as Egyptians. In August, Egypt and Britain initialed an agreement to effect the evacuation of all British troops by June 1956. The communists and the Muslim Brothers denounced this agreement as a betrayal of the nationalist cause because it stipulated conditions under which British troops could be invited to return to Egypt. In October 1954, a member of the Society of Muslim Brothers attempted to assassinate Abdel Nasser in Alexandria. Thousands of Brothers were arrested and held in detention camps for up to ten years. Six members of the organization were convicted and executed for their role in the assassination attempt. The next month the Israeli ship Bat Galim tried to break the Egyptian ban on Israeli traffic in the Suez Canal by provocatively sailing into the waterway. The ship was stopped, and the crew was detained for several months until their release was negotiated.
The most fateful development for the Jewish community was the government's announcement on October 5 that it had apprehended an underground network of Egyptian Jews who had engaged in spying and sabotage on behalf of Israel. This announcement and the subsequent trial provided an excuse to treat the entire Jewish community as potential subversives. Even at its best, the Revolutionary Command Council was overly security conscious and did not have great respect for civil rights and due process. Its popularity and authority had just been sharply challenged by an assassination attempt on the prime minister. In these circumstances, the discovery of the Operation Susannah conspiracy was more than enough to undermine official insistence on strict preservation of the formal rights of the Jewish community. The Israeli attack on Gaza on February 28, 1955, which many Egyptians understood as a retaliation for the execution of two of the Operation Susannah conspirators, began a countdown toward war between Egypt and Israel. Between October 1954 and October 1956, Egyptian Jews were caught between the two states moving toward an armed clash. Their circumstances became increasingly difficult, though not yet impossible.
Jewish British Labor MP Maurice Orbach visited Cairo soon after the trial of the Operation Susannah conspirators. He found that Jews were no longer employed in the civil service and that it was difficult for Jews to obtain Egyptian citizenship. They continued to work in the banking and finance sectors. The Jewish community was highly respected for its “correct business methods and its ethical and moral standing.” In Cairo's harat al-yahud, the medical clinic, soup kitchen for the poor, and old-age home continued to function. Hebrew was taught and religious services were held regularly. Orbach concluded,
I found no antagonism between Muslim, Copt, and Jew. Merchants, shopkeepers, and professionals were in friendly association, although there is grave anxiety among the Jewish community today.
The unspoken heartfelt wish of every Jew in the Delta is that there should be peace between Egypt and Israel. Without that there can be no feeling of security.
The security of the Egyptian Jewish community was irretrievably damaged by the outbreak of the Suez/Sinai War. In response to the British-French-Israeli attack on Egypt on October 29, 1956, Egypt took harsh measures against its Jewish community. About 1,000 Jews were detained, more than half of them Egyptian citizens. Thirteen thousand French and British citizens were expelled from Egypt in retaliation for the tripartite attack, among them many Jews. In addition, 500 Jews not holding French or British citizenship were expelled. Some 460 Jewish-owned businesses were sequestered. Many Jews lost their jobs. The government nationalized the assets of all British and French citizens, and Jews holding those nationalities were affected in that capacity. In November 1956, a presidential decree amended the Egyptian nationality law by imposing more stringent residence requirements and depriving Zionists of the right to claim citizenship. When the hostilities were over, Jews were subjected to unofficial pressures to leave Egypt and renounce their citizenship. According to the World Jewish Congress, between November 22, 1956, and March 15, 1957, 14,102 Jews left Egypt, just under one-third of those residing in the country on the eve of the Suez/Sinai War. Most of them abandoned the great bulk of their assets in Egypt and came to Israel as impoverished refugees.
The military proclamation seizing Jewish property was rescinded on April 27, 1957, and the property of Jews who were not British or French citizens was returned. By then, the Jewish community was crippled beyond restoration. The chief rabbi of Alexandria, Aharon Angel, and the president of the Cairo Jewish community, Salvator Cicurel, were among those who left in the post-1956 wave of immigration. Karaite Chief Rabbi Babovitch had died several months before the Suez/Sinai War. Chief Rabbi Nahum was chronically ill and died in 1960. These key personnel losses combined with continuing political uncertainty meant that Jewish communal life could no longer be viably sustained in Egypt.
After the immediate crisis of the Suez/Sinai War subsided, Jewish emigration continued at a slower pace. From mid-1957 to mid-1967, about 17,000–19,000 departed, leaving about 7,000 Jews in Egypt on the eve of the third Arab-Israeli War. Most of the immigrants in this wave were economically better off than those who left immediately after the 1956 war and sought destinations other than Israel. Among them were those who formed the core of the Karaite community in the San Francisco Bay Area (see Chapter 7). By the end of the mass emigration, between one-third and one-half of the Egyptian Jewish community had relocated in Israel. Brazil, France, the United States, Argentina, England, and Canada were the most popular destinations after Israel.
The mass emigration of Egyptian Jewry in the years after the 1956 war, despite the coercion, humiliation, and pain it involved in many cases, did not erase all sense of affinity to Egypt. Dina Monet, a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, interviewed poor Arabic-speaking Jews housed in transit camps (ma‘abarot) after their arrival in Israel in December 1956. Interviewing new immigrants was common in the Israeli press because it was a convenient vehicle for public reaffirmation of the validity of the Zionist project. Immigrants were typically invited to compare the discrimination, economic deprivation, and culturally impoverished character of Jewish life in the diaspora with their hopes and expectations of freedom in Israel. If the immigrants were housed in ma‘abarot, they were assured that this was a temporary circumstance due to their massive numbers and Israel's limited economic capacity to absorb them. Reporters cataloged the exotic customs of new immigrant groups (especially those of Middle Eastern origins) and reassured a nervous public that such peculiarities would be submerged in the process of commingling the exiles (mizug galuyot) and the forging of the new Jew.
Occasionally, new immigrants inadvertently disrupted these expectations. One of the Egyptian Jews interviewed by Monet innocently explained, “Egypt is our country, we have no other, and our fathers were here [i.e., in Egypt] as long as any Moslems.”  This spontaneous deviation from the scripted text constitutes a minor disruption of the Zionist discourse by both Dina Monet and her interviewee. It expresses the unpreparedness of many Egyptian Jews to adopt roles assigned to them by the Zionist project upon their arrival in Israel. They or their children were soon disciplined by service in the army and other socialization measures. By the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, very few Egyptian Jews in Israel would say of themselves, as Maurice Fargeon had in 1943, “In fact, the Jews are Arabs.”
1. “Unitary Palestine Fails in Committee,” New York Times, Nov. 25, 1947, p. 9. [BACK]
2. For example, AJC, A Report on the Situation in Egypt (Jan. 1949), AJC/FAD-1, Box 12, Foreign Countries, Egypt, 1948–49; WJC, The Treatment of Jews in Egypt and Iraq (1948), MHT A-1/92.12; Nehemiah Robinson [for WJC], The Arab Countries of the Near East and Their Jewish Communities (1951), MHT A-1/33.9; American Jewish Congress, The Black Record: Nasser's Persecution of Egyptian Jewry (New York: American Jewish Congress, 1957). Don Peretz, “Egyptian Jews Today” (New York, AJC, 1956, mimeographed) and S. Landshut, Jewish Communities in the Muslim Countries of the Middle East: A Survey (London: Jewish Chronicle Association, 1950), prepared for AJC and the Anglo-Jewish Association, are far more judicious than the typical publications of this era. [BACK]
3. Ian Lustick, Arabs in the Jewish State: Israel's Control of a National Minority (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980). [BACK]
4. This definition of the conflict in material terms is based on Gershon Shafir, Land, Labour and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1882–1904 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). [BACK]
5. al-Siyasa al-‘usbu‘iyya, Nov. 5, 1938, pp. 3–4. [BACK]
6. Information in the next three paragraphs is drawn from James P. Jankowski, “Egyptian Responses to the Palestine Problem in the Interwar Period,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 12 (no. 1, 1980):1–38; James P. Jankowski, “Zionism and the Jews in Egyptian National Opinion, 1920–1939,” in Amnon Cohen and Gabriel Baer (eds.), Egypt and Palestine: A Millennium of Association (868–1948) (Jerusalem: Ben Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East, 1984), pp. 314–31. [BACK]
7. al-Ahram, Sept. 29, 1929, p. 1. [BACK]
8. Information in the next two paragraphs is drawn from Thomas Mayer, Egypt and the Palestine Question, 1936–1945 (Berlin: Klaus, Schwarz Verlag, 1983), pp. 298 ff; Michael M. Laskier, The Jews of Egypt, 1920–1970 (New York: New York University Press, 1992), pp. 84–93. [BACK]
9. Rif‘at al-Sa‘id, interview, Cairo, May 22, 1986. [BACK]
10. A French translation of the letter, apparently made by British intelligence, appears in “Matzav ha-yehudim be-mitzrayim, 1938–1948,” CZA S25/5218. [BACK]
11. Maurice Fargeon (ed.), Annuaire des Juifs d'Egypte et du proche-orient, 1944 (Cairo: Societé des Editions Historiques des Juives d'Egypte, 1944), p. 111. [BACK]
12. Excerpt from letter (no names given) of Feb. 16, 1948, CZA S25/9034/899/71. [BACK]
13. Maurice Mizrahi, L'Egypte et ses Juifs: Le temps revolu, xixe et xxe siècles (Geneva: Imprimerie Avenir, 1977) p. 120. [BACK]
14. For example, Gibra’il Du‘ayq, “al-Da‘aya al-sahyuniyya,” al-Ahram, July 18, 1948. [BACK]
15. Anonymous letter of a Jewish prisoner in El-Tor (where conditions were much worse than in Huckstep or Abu Qir) to Jewish prisoners in Huckstep asking them to help free them, “Mitzrim, El Tor, Huckstep,” YTM. Other sources state that as many as 1,000 Jews were interned, but this figure usually includes Jewish communists and a certain inflation due to distance from the spot. [BACK]
16. Gudrun Krämer, The Jews in Modern Egypt, 1914–1952 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1989), p. 212. [BACK]
17. Efraim S. “Skirah ktzarah "al matzav ha-‘aliyah mi-mitzrayim,” July 24, 1949, CZA S20/552 (no subdivision indicated). [BACK]
18. AJC, A Report on the Jewish Situation in Egypt, pp. 10–11; Laskier, The Jews of Egypt, pp. 127–29. [BACK]
19. Mario Perez, interview, Paris, June 2, 1994. [BACK]
20. al-Ahram, June 21, 1948, p. 3; al-Kalim, July 1, 1948; Laskier, The Jews of Egypt, p. 133. [BACK]
21. Rabbi Avraham Gabr, interview, Ramlah, Jan. 11, 1993. [BACK]
22. al-Kalim, July 1, 16, Aug. 1, 1948. The paper did not appear at all on Aug. 16, Sept. 1, and Sept. 16; Maurice Shammas, interview, Jerusalem, May 5, 1994. [BACK]
23. al-Ahram, July 16, 1948; AJC, A Report on the Jewish Situation in Egypt, p. 24–32. [BACK]
24. al-Ahram, July 20, Sept. 23, 1948; Richard P. Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 63–64. [BACK]
25. Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, pp. 58–79. [BACK]
26. Ibid., p. 71. [BACK]
27. Campbell to Bevin, Oct. 4, 1948, Great Britain, FO 371/69250. [BACK]
28. Ben Ya‘akov le-menahel mahleket ha-mizrah ha-tikhon, Apr. 17, 1949, “Matzav ha-yehudim be-mitzrayim, 1948–1952,” CZA S20/552/851/71/9776. [BACK]
29. Vaena was the leading exporter of onions, Egypt's third largest source of foreign currency. In 1965, the Nasser regime sequestered his assets, and he immigrated to France. Months later, unable to market its onion crop, the government invited Vaena to return and resume his commercial activity. He did so but was disappointed by his reception and treatment and died soon after his return to Egypt. See Maurice Mizrahi, “The Role of Jews in Economic Development,” in Shimon Shamir (ed.), The Jews of Egypt: A Mediterranean Society in Modern Times (Boulder: Westview Press, 1987), pp. 92–93. [BACK]
30. Laskier, The Jews of Egypt, p. 187. The Israeli census of 1961 records 14,895 immigrants from Egypt and Sudan who arrived in Israel from 1948 to 1951, and 15,872 for 1948–54. These figures are somewhat lower than those presented by Laskier, who relies largely on Jewish Agency records and makes no effort to resolve any of the inconsistencies in his sources. Part of the discrepancy is probably due to those who died or left Israel. All the emigration figures presented in this chapter are approximations based on my interpretation of those presented by Laskier and other sources. [BACK]
31. Ibid. [BACK]
32. This estimate is based on a collation of conflicting figures. Others whose estimates are similar include Krämer, The Jews in Modern Egypt, p. 221, and Institute of Jewish Affairs, WJC, “Egypt in September, 1957” (New York, Sept. 30, 1957), p. 3, MHT D-6/51.5. [BACK]
33. Dr. Isaac I. Schwartzbart, “Toward Unity between Sephardim and Ashkenazim” and “Comparative Chart of the Sephardim in the World Jewish Population, 1950–54” (New York, WJC Organization Department, Apr. 1954), p. 4, CZA Z6/852. [BACK]
34. Laskier, The Jews of Egypt, pp. 164–98; Shlomo Barad, “ha-Pe‘ilut ha-tzionit be-mitzrayim, 1917–1952,” Shorashim ba-mizrah 2 (1989): 65–127; Shlomo Barad et al. (eds.), Haganah yehudit be-artzot ha-mizrah: rav-siah shlishi, ha-ha‘apalah be-mitzrayim, 25 februar 1985 (Efal: Yad Tabenkin, ha-Mahon le-Heker ha-Tnu’ah ha-Tzionit ve-ha-Halutzit be-Artzot ha-Mizrah, ha-Mahon le-Heker Koah ha-Magen, 1986), especially the testimony of David Harel. [BACK]
35. David Harel and Benny Aharon, interview, Tel Aviv, Mar. 25, 1993; Laskier, The Jews of Egypt, pp. 183–85. [BACK]
36. Ben Ya‘akov le-menahel mahleket ha-mizrah ha-tikhon, Apr. 17, 1949, “Matzav ha-yehudim be-mitzrayim, 1948–1952,” CZA S20/552/851/71/9776. [BACK]
37. Amin Lisha‘, “al-Isra’iliyun wa’l-jinsiyya al-misriyya,” al-Kalim, Nov. 15, 1949, p. 2. [BACK]
38. “al-Bulis al-siyasi fi qafas al-ittiham.” al-Musawwar, Oct. 5, 1951, p. 28. [BACK]
39. al-Ahram, Dec. 1, 1949. [BACK]
40. Ibrahim Husni, “Nazaltu al-hara, tala‘tu al-‘abassiyya,” al-Kalim, May 16, 1946, p. 4; May 1, 1947, p. 2. [BACK]
41. al-Ahram, Aug. 3, 1952. [BACK]
42. On this aspect of Rabbi Nahum's career, see Esther Benbassa (ed.), Haim Nahum: A Sephardic Chief Rabbi in Politics, 1892–1923 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995). [BACK]
43. al-Ahram, Aug. 9, 1952. [BACK]
44. al-Kalim, Oct. 1, 16, 1952. [BACK]
45. El-Kodsi, The Karaite Jews of Egypt, p. 61. [BACK]
46. Ibid., pp. 88–90; al-Balagh, Oct. 25, 1952; Journal d'Egypte, Oct. 26, 1952. [BACK]
47. Lettres Expediés, janvier-juin 1953, nos. 99, 105, 106, 123, 124, 161, JLMC, Box 2, General Correspondence, 1926–57, Folder 7. [BACK]
48. Ibid., no. 157, E. Goar and S. Cicurel to the governor of the National Bank of Egypt, Apr. 25, 1953. [BACK]
49. Ibid., Box 2, Folder 8, Lettres Expediés, juillet-décembre 1953, nos. 321, 324, 325. [BACK]
50. al-Ahram, Feb. 9, 1953. [BACK]
51. Lettres Expediés, janvier-juin 1953, no. 55, JLMC, Box 2, General Correspondence, 1926–57, Folder 7. [BACK]
52. Mizrahi, L'Egypte et ses Juifs, p. 57. [BACK]
53. Albert Mizrahi, “Kalam eh al-faragh da ya si salah ya salim,” al-Tas‘ira, Mar. 22, 1954, p. 4. [BACK]
54. Jerusalem Post, Sept. 27, 1955. [BACK]
55. Eric Rouleau, interview, Paris, May 25, 1994. [BACK]
56. Jewish Chronicle, July 6, 1951, quoted in Nehemiah Robinson, The Arab Countries of the Near East and Their Jewish Communities (New York: WJC, Institute for Jewish Affairs, 1951), p. 74, MHT A-1/33.9. [BACK]
57. al-Saraha, Dec. 8, 25, 1952. [BACK]
58. Sasson Somekh, “Participation of Egyptian Jews in Modern Arabic Culture, and the Case of Murad Faraj,” in Shimon Shamir (ed.), The Jews of Egypt: A Mediterranean Society in Modern Times (Boulder: Westview Press, 1987), p. 133. [BACK]
59. Nehemiah Robinson, “Persecution in Egypt,” Congress Weekly, Nov. 17, 1954 (reprinted by the American Jewish Congress, Office of Jewish Information), MHT D-61/151.6, 1. [BACK]
60. Adel M. Sabet, A King Betrayed: The Ill-Fated Reign of Farouk of Egypt (London: Quartet Books, 1989), p. 217. [BACK]
61. “Rapport presenté à l'Agence Juive Department du Moyen Orient sur la situation actuelle des Juifs en Egypt par un Juif d'Egypte ayant quitté l'Egypte vers la fin de l’année 1949” [no author, but apparently the president of the Zionist Organization of Cairo from internal evidence, no date], “Matzav ha-yehudim be-mitzrayim, 1948–1952,” CZA S20/552. [BACK]
62. Michael Stern, Farouk (New York: Bantam, 1965), pp. 195–98. [BACK]
63. Robinson, The Arab Countries of the Near East, p. 74. [BACK]
64. Reported in al-Kalim, Dec. 15, 1949. [BACK]
65. Akhir sa‘a, July 11, 1951; reprinted in al-Kalim, July 16, 1951, p. 6. [BACK]
66. al-Kalim, Dec. 16, 1952, p. 8. [BACK]
67. al-Kalim, Dec. 1, 1953. p. 8; Dec. 16, 1955, p. 6. [BACK]
68. “Ya‘qub sannu‘…al-musawi al-misri al-muslim,” al-Musawwar, Feb. 18, 1955. [BACK]
69. al-Saraha, May 12, 1951, p. 1. [BACK]
70. Somekh, “Participation of Egyptian Jews in Modern Arabic Culture, and the Case of Murad Faraj,” p. 132. [BACK]
71. Layla Murad's biography is based on the following obituary notices and articles that appeared after her death: Amjad Mustafa, “Layla murad, 77 ‘amman min al-‘ata’,” al-Wafd, Nov. 23, 1995, p. 8; “Misr: ghiyab layla murad,” al-Hayat, Nov. 23, 1995, p. 24; ‘Adil Disuqi, “Rahalat layla murad, sindarila al-shasha al-misriyya wa-sahibat al-sawt al-dhabi,” al-Hayat, Nov. 25, 1995, p. 24; Fatemah Farag, “Farewell to the Last Artist of Integrity,” Middle East Times, Dec. 3–9, 1995, p. 17. Salih Mursi's instant biography, Layla Murad (Cairo: Dar al-Hilal, 1995), Dar al-Hilal's featured book the month immediately after Layla Murad's death, avoids all the controversial aspects of her career and barely acknowledges her Jewish origins (see p. 11). [BACK]
72. “Layla murad,” al-Ahram, Sept. 12, 1952, p. 6; “Layla murad tukadhdhib tabarru‘aha li-isra’il 50 alf junayh,” al-Ahram, Sept. 13, 1952, p. 7; ‘Adil Hasanayn, Layla murad: ya musafir wa-nas hawak (Cairo: Amadu, 1993), pp. 85 ff; ‘Adil ‘Abd al-‘Alim, “Watha’iq tuthbit bara’at layla murad min tuhmat ziyarat isra’il,” al-Hayat, July 4, 1993, p. 1. [BACK]
73. “Layla murad tukadhdhib tabarru‘aha li-isra’il 50 alf junayh.” [BACK]
74. Hasanayn, Layla murad, p. 89. [BACK]
75. Ruz al-yusuf, Nov. 8, 1954, p. 34; Layla Murad, “Ta’alamtu wa-ta‘adhabtu fi sabil ikhlasi,” Ruz al-yusuf, Dec. 6, 1954, p. 33. [BACK]
76. Disuqi, “Rahalat Layla Murad.” [BACK]
77. “Kharaju min dinihim fi sabil al-hubb,” Ruz al-yusuf, Feb. 7, 1955, p. 40. [BACK]
78. “Cairo's Jews: Uneasy Friendship,” Jerusalem Post, Feb. 16, 1955. [BACK]
79. Unless otherwise noted, the next two paragraphs are based on AJC, “The Situation of the Jews in Egypt at the Beginning of 1957” (New York, Jan. 7, 1957), MHT A1/969. Laskier, The Jews of Egypt, pp. 253–64, relies extensively on the same source. [BACK]
80. Institute of Jewish Affairs, WJC, “Egypt in September, 1957.” [BACK]
81. WJC, The Persecution of Jews in Egypt: The Facts (Apr. 1957), p. 7, MHT A1/22–19. [BACK]
82. For precise figures, see the table in Laskier, The Jews of Egypt, p. 273. [BACK]
83. Gilbert Cabasso et al, Juifs d'Egypte: Images et textes (Paris: Editions du Scribe 1984), p. 42, estimates that the numbers of Egyptian Jewish emigrants to destinations other than Israel were 15,000 to Brazil, 10,000 to France, 9,000 to the United States, 9,000 to Argentina, and 4,000 to the United Kingdom, with smaller numbers in Canada, Italy, and Australia. This total of 47,000 cannot be reconciled with the Jewish Agency's figures for ‘aliyah without assuming a Jewish community of at least 85,000 before 1948, a larger figure than most estimates. It is more easily reconcilable with the Israeli census figures (see note 30 in this chapter). The same source claims that only one-third of all Egyptian Jews emigrated to Israel. A certain number of Jews who went to Israel because that was the only available destination immediately after the 1948 and 1956 wars ultimately settled elsewhere, and this may account for part of the discrepancy. The available statistics are incomplete and to some extent politically designed. [BACK]
84. Dina Monet, “Absorption of Egypt's Aliya in Good Hands,” Jerusalem Post, Dec. 31, 1955. [BACK]