A Jew is Always Welcome in Addis Abeba – But Not in Cairo
Posted by addisethiopia on May 21, 2015
When an Israeli journalist secretly filmed himself walking through Paris dressed as a religious Jew – and recorded the abuse he received at the hands of mostly Muslim residents – the video went viral as a shocking illustration of the levels of anti-Semitism faced by European Jews.
That expose inspired a similar project by a British Jewish journalist, who filmed himself and other subjects walking around several major European cities, in some cases also resulting in hostile responses including verbal abuse, threats and spitting.
But how would they fare in the capital of the Arab world’s most populous country?
A group of Egyptian activists found that out while carrying out a social experiment of their own in Cairo, which involved donning a fake beard and peyot (sidelocks) and stereotypical Jewish garb, while wandering through the streets of the Egyptian capital.
The results, unsurprisingly, were fairly unpleasant to say the least.
Almost immediately upon walking outside, the “Jew” attracted wide-eyed stares from visibly shocked passersby.
But worse was to come. Upon stopping people to ask for directions, the activist was treated to nearly universally aggressive – in some cases violent – responses.
The video was first posted to an Egyptian social media site, and received mixed responses, with some commentators expressing sympathy for the anti-Semitism displayed but many decrying the “barbarism” and blaming “the mullahs” for “brainwashing” young Arabs.
Once home to a thriving Jewish community, Egypt today is home to just a handful of mainly elderly Jews – less than two dozen according to some estimates.
The country was home to around 80,000 Jews in 1948, but expelled most of them and seized their property as part of a wider campaign of ethnic-cleansing carried out by Arab states in “revenge” for the defeat of Arab armies by the nascent State of Israel in 1948.
Many Egyptian Jews were also murdered or executed by the government during anti-Semitic pogroms and purges.
Roughly one million Jews were expelled or driven from their homes due to violence and extreme persecution in Arab states in the decades following Israel’s War of Independence.
And in Addis: at 4:38
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