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Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CLXVI. The Second Exodus (1 of 6)

Two groups were affected by a variety of events which eventually forced them to leave Egypt; I am referring to the Jewish population and the foreign one.

You’ve been informed many times in the course of this narrative that the majority of the Egyptian people lived in abysmal poverty. When you can barely afford the basic necessities of life, when you’re affected by diseases, and when you’re enveloped by the darkness of ignorance, you’re bound to look for somebody to blame, and Jews and foreigners were ideal scapegoats.

What I am saying here is that The Second Exodus was bound to happen one day. The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and the Suez Canal Crisis were catalysts only.

Sadly, it was the foreigners and the Jews who provided the entrepreneurial spirit in Egypt and kept the economy humming. When they left, many jobs left with them. Put in different terms, it was the Egyptian people who ultimately suffered the most.

Now, Abdel Nasser was a smart leader, the question then becomes, why didn’t he realized that? He did, but after many years; by then, it was too late, most Jews and foreigners had already left. An irreplaceable human capital was lost forever.

The Jewish population

The Second Exodus started when the State of Israel came into being. Even before that, many young people were ardent Zionists who couldn’t wait to see their Zionist ideal become a reality. But, the degree of attachment to the young Jewish State varied. Some of these future Hah’aloutzim (pioneers, in this case in the young and challenging State of Israel) eventually immigrated to France, Italy, Australia, the U.S., and various other countries. In fairness to them, once Israel was born, the Zionist movement died! It had no longer any reason to exist. Its purpose was to create a Jewish homeland, and this dream had now been realized. But I am digressing, so let me go back to the original topic.

The first wave of immigration started as early as 1948. Mostly, they were young families who saw Israel as a land of opportunity. It would indeed become in time, but at the beginning, conditions were frightful.

A cousin of mine left in those early days and lived in a tent for two years; wind and rain freely entered his “home.” I don’t need to tell you that there was no running water and electricity! Food was rationed and jobs were scarce and seasonal in nature, we’re also talking of hard physical labor.

Wherever he may be, a Jew is unlikely to lead an entire lifetime peacefully. I already talked about the good life the Jews of Egypt enjoyed, to that I would add that antisemitism as it is known in Europe did not exist; it wasn’t a love-in as between Muslims, Christians, and Jews, but religious tolerance reigned. All that changed in 1948 when Israel became a loathed neighbor of Egypt. The honeymoon for the Egyptians Jews was over.

Egyptians developed an instant hatred for Israel, and it is still alive today more than 60 years later. In this case the object of their contempt was far away, however, there were plenty of Jews in Egypt to vent their anger on. Egyptian Jews in 1948 lived through dangerous times.

There were riots on the streets; an angry mob could, and did lynch quite a few unfortunate Jews who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Many Jews pretended to be Muslims and carried with them as “proof” a copy of the Koran. They learned to recite the Fat’ha (the opening passage in the Holy Book) and other passages flawlessly. This at times worked and at other times didn’t. As far as I know, not too many Jews were killed; this was due to the basic good nature of the average Egyptian, many acted as defenders and put their own lives on the line. This statement (or variations to it) was often heard on Cairo’s street at the time: “They are our brothers, they have nothing to do with Israel which they despise as much as we do.”

And it is such good Samaritans that intervened for my father and his partner and saved their lives.

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