The Golden Age of Egyptian Jewish Journalism

Jan. 24 2019

After the British took control in 1882, Egypt experienced rapid economic growth. This attracted numerous immigrants, including no small number of Jews. Their presence helped to revitalize the Egyptian Jewish community—which dates back to several centuries before the common era—and led to the development of a thriving press, as Ovadia Yerushalmi writes:

The end of World War I brought about a golden age of Egyptian journalism. . . . Jews produced more periodicals than any other minority in Egypt. [Of the country’s 90 Jewish-owned periodicals], two-thirds targeted Jewish audiences. Most of these were written in French, but others appeared in Judeo-Arabic, Yiddish, and Ladino. [The additional third] were marketed to the general Egyptian public.

One of the most important Jewish newspapers in Egypt was L’Aurore (The Dawn). Its owner and founding editor was Lucien Sciuto (1886-1947), a writer and educator who had originally founded L’Aurore in Istanbul. Conflicts with the leaders of the local Jewish community there led to its closure, and in 1919 Sciuto emigrated to Egypt, [bringing L’Aurore with him]. The paper was published in Cairo from 1924 to 1941.

The weekly newspaper, characterized by its pro-Zionist stance, covered many areas of interest—religious affairs, local Jewish community leaders, relations with world Jewry and with the Jewish community of Mandatory Palestine, and relations with the Egyptian regime. In addition, the paper published articles translated from newspapers in Mandatory Palestine; starting in 1938, it even included a page written in Italian.

L’Aurore . . . was not afraid to criticize the heads of the local rabbinate and of the Egyptian Jewish community. It was also the first Jewish Egyptian newspaper to send reporters into the field . . . and carry out investigative journalism to expose the reader to the deficiencies of the local Jewish leadership.

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More about: Egypt, History & Ideas, Journalism, Mizrahi Jewry, Sephardim

The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media