Times Op-ed: In his Cairo Speech Obama Neglected to Note the Arab Persecutions of the Jews

Two years ago we posted on this blog information identifying an Egyptian Jew living in our community,  Teaneck. That person immediately, within minutes of the post appearing, called us to beseech us to remove the post from our blog so as to protect the safety of members of his family who still live and do business in Egypt. If they were identified as Jews, he said, they would be put in danger of harm. We removed the post.

Now, related to this concern, in a Times Op-ed, Professor André Aciman reminds us all of a gaping omission on the part or President Obama from his Cairo speech.
The president never said a word about me. Or, for that matter, about any of the other 800,000 or so Jews born in the Middle East who fled the Arab and Muslim world or who were summarily expelled for being Jewish in the 20th century. With all his references to the history of Islam and to its (questionable) “proud tradition of tolerance” of other faiths, Mr. Obama never said anything about those Jews whose ancestors had been living in Arab lands long before the advent of Islam but were its first victims once rampant nationalism swept over the Arab world.

Nor did he bother to mention that with this flight and expulsion, Jewish assets were — let’s call it by its proper name — looted.
The writer, who is professor of comparative literature at the City University of New York Graduate Center, and the author of the memoir “Out of Egypt” concludes with this brilliant understatement:
It is strange that our president, a man so versed in history and so committed to the truth, should have omitted mentioning the Jews of Egypt. He either forgot, or just didn’t know, or just thought it wasn’t expedient or appropriate for this venue. But for him to speak in Cairo of a shared effort “to find common ground ... and to respect the dignity of all human beings” without mentioning people in my position would be like his speaking to the residents of Berlin about the future of Germany and forgetting to mention a small detail called World War II.
The president also forgot to mention the peace accord of Anwar Sadat and his subsequent assassination, chapters of history that were worthy of note for a statesman orating in Cairo about peace.

Mort Kondrake pointed this out immediately in a discussion that appeared on Fox:
The crowning missing ingredient in this entire speech, was any mention of Anwar Sadat. This is the 30th anniversary of Anwar Sadat, in Cairo, making peace with the Israelis. He should have said Anwar Sadat is a model for the entire Islamic world, especially the Arab world....
And one more thing. We think instead of a perfunctory citation from the Babylonian Talmud (should he have called it the Iraqi Talmud?), it would have been more appropriate for Barack to cite a passage from the writings of Maimonides, a famous medieval Egyptian Jewish rabbi-physician, or perhaps for the president to cite from the Palestinian Talmud, thus confounding the entire world.

1 comment:

Richard said...

This is a good article; I read it two days ago in the Times. It points out correctly that a significant number of Jews - specifically the Mizrahi Jews - are indigenous to the Middle East. I would go a step further and state that they are in fact Arabs (in that they spoke Arabic like their Christian counterparts), victims of persecution from Muslim Arabs. Furthermore, fully half of all Israelis are decendants from Mizrahi Jews. This should dispel once and for all they myth that Israel is some retrograde bastion of European colonialism. Rather it is the product of two tragedies; the first and most obvious being the Holocaust, the second and often understated being the ethnic displacement of Arab Jews caused by Muslim Arab nationalism.