According to the Agence France-Presse, the Egyptian Jewish community consists of 18 people.
Two-thirds of Egypt’s Jews are confined to the port city of Alexandria. A woman named Magda Haroun works tirelessly to ensure that the community’s heritage and legacy remain integral to the future of Egypt, even though it is increasingly obvious that Egyptian Jewry will cease to exist in another generation or two. Earlier last year, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled el-Enany, suggested that Egypt’s government, led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is interested in preserving Egypt’s Jewish heritage.
Once upon a time, the world’s most populous Arab nation had somewhere between 80,000 to 120,000 Jews, and the Jewish community played an active role in Egyptian society. That changed after Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 when the Egyptian public’s attitude toward the Jews soured, leading to a decades-long campaign of persecution and ethnic cleansing.
For example, during the Suez campaign in 1956, Gamal Abdel Nasser’s government declared that all Jews were Zionists and enemies of the state, leading to the expulsion of tens of thousands of Jews, many of whom settled in Israel. Even after Egypt and Israel signed a peace accord in the late 1970s, radical Islamists persecuted Egyptian Jews and barred them from holy sites as recently as 2011.
Despite Egypt’s history of ethnic cleansing against the Jews, its representatives in the United Nations Human Rights Council have the audacity to refer to Israel falsely as an “apartheid state.” Last week, Hillel Neuer of UN Watch slammed numerous Arab nations, including Egypt, for slandering Israel while having their own troubled history of ethnic cleansing against the Jews:
“Now I’d like to ask that commission that commissioned that report, the Arab states from which we just heard, Egypt, Iraq, and the others: How many Jews live in your countries? How many Jews lived in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco? Once upon a time, the Middle East was full of Jews. Algeria had 140,000 Jews. Algeria, where are your Jews? Egypt had 75,000 Jews. Where are your Jews? Syria, you had tens of thousands of Jews. Where are your Jews? Iraq, you had over 135,000 Jews. Where are your Jews?”
The Human Rights Council met Neuer’s comments with deafening silence. The Arab world, and Egypt in particular, realized in that moment that its own history of persecuting the Jews resulted in broken communities, a dwindling heritage, and a loss of its national character.
Unfortunately, Egypt is only beginning to show interest in preserving its Jewish heritage when its community has been reduced to double-digits. That is the consequence of anti-Jewish ethnic cleansing.