Egypt Attempts to Restore a Historic Synagogue in order to Provide Cover for Many Sins

January 21, 2020 | Lyn Julius
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On Friday January 9, the Egyptian government held a public ceremony to mark the reopening of Alexandria’s Eliyahu ha-Navi synagogue after the completion of a $4 million renovation. Only three Jews attended the event at the 14th-century synagogue, which will not serve as a house of prayer but as a tourist destination. Lyn Julius comments:

The media coverage of the event was typical of a trend hailing the restoration of Jewish buildings in countries with no more than a handful of Jews as somehow indicative of pluralism and tolerance. . . . No journalist covering the restoration story bothered to ask why a once-glorious community has been reduced to eight souls in Cairo and Alexandria, the youngest of whom is sixty-seven.

Not a word about the proximate causes of the Jewish exodus: bombings of Cairo’s Jewish quarter, overnight expulsions, months and years spent in putrid jails for no other crime than being Jewish, the torture and rape of Jews taken prisoner in 1967 as “Israeli POWs.”

It is surely better to preserve Jewish heritage sites in Arab lands than to let them crumble into disuse or be converted to other purposes, as has happened right across the Arab world. Jewish communal property in Egypt is [now] viewed as part of the national heritage. . . . [But] this policy of nationalization extends to the creeping appropriation of movable property more than a century old, such as Torah scrolls and libraries. These are now being registered as “protected.”

Four-million dollars is a small price to pay for ethnic cleansing. There is never any need to apologize. Restore a few buildings abandoned by their owners and pocket the tourist revenues. It’s a win-win situation.

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