Recent addition to the ranks of HP bloggers is Joyce Zonana, who published a personal narrative of her family’s recent attempt to unite in their country of origin, Egypt, but was denied permission after Israel’s raid on the flotilla. Most of the entry is pretty tame, just a discussion of the value of coming together as a family, how far away everyone is, etc. But the most important part of the entry is the ending, which I have reproduced here:
“A Muslim friend in Cairo promptly answers my email when I write to say that we will not, after all, be coming. "That's too bad. Things are calm here. No difficulties, thank God." I often anger Jewish acquaintances when I declare that my family lost its homeland because of the establishment of the Jewish state. It's an over simplified view of things, I know, but it holds a truth. Middle Eastern Jews lived peacefully in Egypt for generations before European Jews created their state in a place where Palestinians had lived for generations. Today I declare again: we lost our homecoming because of the actions of the Jewish state. And our own unwillingness to stand in the strength of our dream, to abandon our fear that the past must determine the present. Next year, I say then, in Cairo.”
This is part of a disturbing trend on the HP, both in the form of bloggers and users, of justifying Arab anti-Semitism by blaming Israel. Zonana revises some history first, stating that everything between Jews and Egyptians was fine before Zionism. Is this true?
A quick look at the Wikipedia entry about Jews in Egypt reveals that 90% of Egyptian Jews were denied citizenship no matter how long they had lived there. In 629 Jews were massacred in Egypt, and “the caliph al-Ḥakim (996-1020) vigorously applied the Pact of Umar, and compelled the Jews to wear bells and to carry in public the wooden image of a calf. A street in the city, al-Jawdariyyah, was inhabited by Jews. Al-Ḥakim, hearing that they were accustomed to mock him in verses, had the whole quarter burned down.” There were blood libels in Alexandria multiple times in the 19th century. Only under British rules did life for Jews vastly improve.
So now that we’ve shown that statement by Zonana is false, let’s move on to her blaming of the victim. She declares, “We [her family] lost our homecoming because of the actions of the Jewish state” after blaming the initial loss of the homeland on Israel’s founding in 1948. I’m confused, but I don’t see the connection between Israel’s founding and the expulsion of Jews from Egypt. Israel was across the Sinai desert, and only fought Egypt’s army in that war. The Israeli army didn’t even enter Egypt, much less expel any Jews from there. Oh, wait, what’s that you say? The Egyptians are the ones who expelled the Jews? Well, I can’t believe it. That seems like an important part in the sequence between Israel’s founding and the leaving of Zonana’s family. Why would she ever leave such a thing out?
We see in this article and in past comments that the Arabs are simply not responsible for their own actions towards the Jews, that they cannot be expected to anything but react to the wrongs Israel has inflicted on them. It never occurs to the author of this blog post to condemn her fellow Egyptians for taking out their anger towards Israel on their innocent Jewish neighbors, she apparently prefers to condemn the Jews who got “uppity” and were no longer willing to live under Arab rule. Even with World War II ending less than five years at that point, the author still fails to see the irony of her blaming her fellow Jews for the actions the Arabs inflicted on her family. I predict if she had been alive in 1930s Germany, she would have blamed Herschel Grynszpan for Kristallnacht too (there’s an obscure reference for you).
I’m not sure what kind of psychosis it is for people to misplace blame so freely and transparently, but it’s always fascinating to see it in action. And with the HP’s editorial policies the way they are, we see it a lot.