"Jews and Muslims in Egypt: from its origins to the present"



Project Aladdin is pleased to announce that the sixth book of our Shared History books series in Partnership with the French publishing house Editions Tallandier is out.

Egypt holds an important place in Judaism as well as being a bridge between the Levant and North Africa and a beacon for Ancient, Islamic and European civilizations.

 Professor emeritus at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, Michael M. Laskier is one of the most renowned experts on Jewish history in the Islamic world. Basing his research on a wide range of sources, he draws a full portrait of the evolution of Egyptian Judaism from its origins to the present. Going through more than two thousand years of history, he underlines the disruptions that accentuated the erosion of the Jewish community. In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, fleeing from Egypt was the only option for Jews, thus ending a long odyssey in this land which holds significant importance in the Jewish memory.

 

Summary of the book:

Throughout the centuries, the Jews of Egypt, being the oldest Jewish community in the world (besides Israel), played a crucial role in the economic, educational, intellectual and cultural development of their country. The earliest archaeological evidence of a Jewish presence in Egypt goes back to the mid-7th century BC. Under Roman rule, all Jewish life ceased until the Muslim conquest and the establishment of the Umayyad Caliphate. Under the status of "dhimmi" Egyptian Jews saw peaks and valleys. Enriched by the arrival of migrants from the Near East, the community is made of the first adherents of the Karaite sect and then, with the advent of the Fatimids and Ayyubids, between the 10th and 12th centuries, welcomed the survivors of Almohad persecutions from Andalusia and the Maghreb region. This Egyptian "golden age" came to an end with the arrival of the Mamelukes in the middle of the 14th century. Reduced to a few hundred families, Egyptian Judaism was revived with the arrival of Jewish-Spanish emigrants in 1517, and then following the conquest of the country in 1517 by the Ottomans.

The French expedition of 1798 and the accession to power of Mehmet Ali in 1805 opened Egypt to European influence. Beginning in the mid-19th century, thousands of Jews from the Mediterranean basin, the Levant, and Eastern Europe settled in Egypt. A process that ebbed between the two World Wars: victim of the rise of Egyptian nationalism, of the thickening of the Question of Palestine and then the arrival of Israel on the international scene, of the advent of the Muslim Brotherhood, of the fall of the monarchy and the accession of Nasserism – all these events sounded the death knell for the Jewish presence in the Nile Valley.