Jewish leader guilty of fraud

Head of Egypt's Jewish community may face time behind bars.

July 12, 2010 03:57
1 minute read.
Egyptian Jewish leader Carmen Weinstein

Carmen Weinstein 311. (photo credit: courtesy)

Carmen Weinstein, the head of Egypt’s tiny Jewish community, was convicted of fraud by an Egyptian court Monday and may face time behind bars.

Foreign Ministry officials confirmed Weinstein had been tried in court, but refused to provide any further information on the matter.

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“From what we’ve gathered, we understand that [the affair] is related to a business dealing,” said Amira Oron, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry.

“That’s all we’re willing to comment [on] at the moment.”

Oron categorically denied earlier reports that Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, Yitzhak Levanon, had intervened on Weinstein’s behalf by sending a letter to authorities asking them to protect the Jewish community from “oppression and cruelty.” She said it was a private affair.

According to local media reports, Weinstein was found guilty of swindling money from an investor to whom she allegedly sold property she did not own. They added that she could face a prison sentence of up to three years.

A senior Israeli diplomat voiced his concern regarding the accusations against Weinstein.

“There are a couple of dozen Jewish women left; all the men are gone, and Weinstein is running what’s left,” the diplomat said. “The community has a few assets, and she rents it out – that’s how they get by. I hope they haven’t been duped by anyone.”

Weinstein is the leader of a community that dates back to ancient times. At its peak in the 1920s, there were 80,000 Jews living in Egypt, belonging to Sephardi, Ashkenazi and Karaite congregations. However, following Egypt’s independence and the 1948 creation of the State of Israel, Jews left en masse due to persecution.

Nowadays, only a handful of Jews remain in Cairo and Alexandria.

Nevertheless, in an interview with a local paper in 2007, Weinstein was upbeat about the future of Egypt’s Jews.

“There have been Jews in Egypt since biblical times, the time of Moses, and I don’t see why there shouldn’t be Jews here until the end of time – sometimes less in number, sometimes more,” she was quoted as saying.

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