By Rachel Wahba
I have so many questions that I would like to talk over with my father, the Egyptian Jew – he died seven years ago, before the “Arab Spring,” and before President Barack Obama visited Egypt after his election four years ago.
The truth is, I was so close to my father, and I can probably guess correctly the answers he would give my questions. I still have conversations with him in my head. The “Arab Spring,” he would tell me is a fraud.
First of all, I will never understand how Western journalists and politicians could have not only coined the term but kept repeating it after there was clearly no sign of “spring.”
Spring is synonymous with renewal. Arabs living in North African countries have never called the changes of their governments a “spring.” Arabs living in Syria and Bahrain are not calling the changes in their country a “spring” either.
What has happened in Egypt has been regressive and hateful to women and minorities. The Jews are no longer living in Egypt, so there are no synagogues burning, only churches and Christians living in fear. I would imagine women in Egypt are very afraid as well.
There is no room for a woman’s face let alone her voice under the rule being imposed by the Muslim Brotherhood.
And President Obama’s speech in Cairo?
What a great disappointment!
I have tried to forget his speech. He was so full of hope and promise.
He told the Egyptians he wanted them to be true partners in making the world a better place to live in.
But he threw Egyptian Jews under the bus when he failed to mention their existence. Why didn’t he ask the Egyptians: “Where are the Jews?”
There are no more Egyptian Jews living in Egypt, maybe a handful of elderly ones ending their years there –but none so much to speak of.
He did not mention how Gamal Abdel-Nasser kicked out the Jews when he came to power labeling them as an “alien” population. As I have written before, my father’s paternal family, the Wahbas, were indigenous Egyptian Jews, “real Egyptians” he would proudly declare, who like the Egyptian Coptic Christians predated the Islamic conquest of Egypt.
My father would have reminded me that Obama is a politician, like any other, and he wants Egypt with its Suez Canal and liquefied natural gas reserves to remain a friend of the United States.
Pushed, my father would agree that the speech in Cairo was not good for the Jews or Israel. The degree of invalidation has ripple effects.
My father would tell me about his own birth certificate: in Egypt, “Jew” and “Israeli” were synonymous.
He would understand what perhaps many in the West do not.
On my father’s birth certificate (he was born in 1916, long before the establishment of the modern state of Israel) it states “Israeli.”
If the President of the United States pretends Jews never existed in Egypt, continues to pour foreign assistance into the country and then on top of that does not visit Israel during the first term of his presidency, what exactly is his message to Arab states, who are hell-bent on Israel’s destruction?
The degree of invalidation in Obama’s speech sent me into despair. I remember talking to friends (we all voted for Obama) – and their response was always the same, “give him time,” he is trying.
We are now in his second term.
He probably won’t be visiting Egypt, but the billions of dollars in foreign assistance from the United States will continue.
His omission of even mentioning the Egyptian Jews when talking to the Egyptians was deliberate. Appeasement is the name of his game. The unfortunate result has not been benign, the situation has gone from bad to worse.
Egypt is now ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood, hardly a group known for defending democratic principles let alone having any love for Egypt’s neighbor, Israel.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohammed Morsi now meets with Iran’s holocaust denying President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad and you can be sure they share a common hatred for a common enemy. Ahmedinijad has been building a defiant network of countries and allies in his quest to destroy Israel and with the vast oil wealth of his country, he is not reliant on American aid.
The voices that want to destroy Israel are becoming more and more vocal. It is not only the “terrorist” groups of Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran’s Ahmedinejad and their real leaders, the Ayatollahs, now the President of Israel’s next door neighbor; Egypt, Mohammed Morsi has joined the chorus. It is not rocket science to figure out that he hates Jews and the tiny state of Israel, it is also frightening that he is so unafraid to speak out his true feelings.
We now have in Egypt a regime that is quickly working to impose an intolerant version of Islamic law and will go as far as it can to impose religious totalitarianism on it’s people. The President of Egypt calls Jews “blood-sucking warmongers” who are “the descendants of apes and pigs.”
And the West continues to treat him with respect as if he is a rational head of state worthy of receiving large packages of foreign assistance.
My father would say “thank God we are no longer living there,” but like a “real Egyptian” he would still hope the day would come when his countrymen could live in peace with their next door neighbor, Israel, “Inshallah.”