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 – CLXVII. The Second Exodus (2 of 6)

One day, while at work, Nessim and Maurice got wind that all hell had broken loose not too far from the store. The wise course was to close the store, and go home, which they did. The next question was how to confront the angry crowd? They both looked very Jewish, there was no question of pretending to be Muslims.

Their Muslim employee was willing to accompany them, but not alone. He went to two other merchants who were tall and strong; their reaction: “We will take Khawaga Kaire and Khawaga Ezri home.” As for dad’s employee he was told that he was not needed for two more abadaye (strong and aggressive men) would follow them.

Nessim and Maurice could be excused if they compared these two men to the two angels that accompanied the Biblical Lot out of Sodom. Without further ado, they locked arms with Maurice and Nessim; the two abadaye followed at a distance.

It was not long before they were confronted by a mob baying for Jewish blood, but their “angels” warned the crowd that they would have to kill them first before they touched one hair on the head of the men they were protecting.

Strong as they may have been, and even with the help of the abadaye, these two men could not have saved dad and his partner by themselves. They used Egyptian common sense, or you can call it gentle persuasion. More than once, they pointed at their scared friends and said: “These two men are merchants with us, they help us make money and support our families; we share el e’ich woul mal’h (bread and salt, more or less the equivalent of putting bread on the table) on a daily basis. We could never stand in front of Allah on the day of judgment if we left them to their fate.” Many in the crowd were swayed and some even accompanied them.

Eventually the crowd thinned and dad and Maurice were reasonably safe; but their defenders did not leave until they arrived at the door of their apartment building.

To say that they lost many years of their lives on that frightful day would be a gross understatement. Divine providence was no doubt on their side at that moment. They were given a second chance, and they used it. They both eventually immigrated, started new lives in new countries, and lived to see their grandchildren.

Where were the authorities during that time? They either could not properly organize themselves or didn’t care, or perhaps it was a bit of both. Eventually, calm reigned again, albeit an uneasy calm.

After 1948, Egypt was never the same again; a certain innocence had died for good. First Egyptians were told that they had scored a major victory against the Jewish state, they then were betrayed by the United Nations when it established a Jewish state anyway. Sooner or later, the truth had to come out and they were informed that they had lost the war, this against a rag-tag army. They were angry and stayed angry. It would not be an exaggeration to say that to the present day they are still angry. The cold peace with Israel had very little chance to warm up in my lifetime.

The 1952 revolution brought back much needed order to Egypt. According to the Free Officers, a new day has dawned on Egypt. The motto, “with order, work, and cooperation, Egypt will prosper,” was made into a song that was endlessly heard on the radio. Alas, good and strong leaders do not make a country. From 1952 to 1956 I did not see much change in attitude. No surprise here; Egyptians (indeed, any people) will change when they are ready, and not before.

The 1952 revolution, with some exceptions, did not appear menacing to Jews. However, it was clear that we were no longer wanted.

The 1956 Suez Canal Crisis proved to be the beginning of the end. It worked in the reverse order of The First Exodus: “Let this people go, and the sooner the better!” Jews did not leave Egypt en masse in 1956; by the mid-’60s a lot were gone; by 1967 most of the remaining Jews had left. The circle had closed; the Jews who had been in Egypt for centuries could no longer call it their native country. Their children would be born in foreign lands; they would be Australians, Brazilians, Canadians, and Americans. An era had come to an end.

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