Cairo – Egypt To Bar Jews From Visiting Grave Site Of Abu Hatzeira

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    FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 28, 199 file photo, Jewish pilgrims light candles inside the shrine at the site of the 120 year-old tomb of Rabbi Abu Hatzeira northwest of Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Enric Marti, File) EGYPT OUTCairo – Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it had told Israel that it would not be “appropriate” for Israeli pilgrims to make an annual visit to the tomb of a 19th-century Jewish holy man in the Nile Delta, as activists mobilized to block the pilgrimage route.

    Ceremonies at the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abu Hatzira have triggered yearly political sparring in Egypt throughout most of the last decade, with Islamists, nationalists, and others claiming that the government by allowing the pilgrimage is pursuing an unpopular policy of normalization with the country’s former enemy.

    Egypt notified Israel two months ago that it would be “impossible to hold the annual ceremony because of the political and security situation in the country,” the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

    An Islamist politician involved in organizing protests against the march meanwhile said that visiting Abu Hatzira’s gravesite in the village of Daymouta, 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Cairo would be a “suicide mission” for Israelis, because of popular opposition to their presence in Egypt.

    “Normalization (of relations) with Israel is forced on the people, and the visits too come against the will of the people and despite popular rejection,” said Gamal Heshmat of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s best organized political group.

    Heshmat said that activists planned to stage sit-ins and other protests to block the route as soon as they hear the pilgrims are on their way. Egypt’s daily Al-Ahram newspaper reported Tuesday that 31 parties and groups had joined this year’s campaign.

    The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization based in Los Angeles, denounced the attempts to block the pilgrimage. In a Tuesday statement, the center’s Abraham Cooper accused the Brotherhood of trying to “curb religious freedom of Jews.”

    “In their worldview, there is no respect for the traditions for Jews, dead or alive,” he said.

    A son to a chief rabbi of Morocco, Abu Hatzira was revered by some Jews as a mystic renowned for his piety and for performing miracles. The elderly rabbi was making his way from his native Morocco to the Holy Land in 1879 when he fell ill and died in the Egyptian city of Damanhour near Alexandria.

    According to tradition, his followers tried to move his tomb three times, and three times heavy storms prevented them.

    After Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, Jewish devotees — mostly of Moroccan origin — have traveled annually to the site. But Egypt has limited the numbers of pilgrims.

    In 2001 and 2004, two court orders banned the ceremony after opponents filed legal challenges.

    Since then, both Delta residents and activist groups have denounced the ceremony. The residents complain of harassment by security forces deployed to protect the pilgrims. Activists oppose the normalization of relations with a country that Egypt fought in four wars between 1948 and 1973, and also see the defiance of the court order as part of the Mubarak regime’s general trampling of the rule of law.

    In 2009, Egypt officially denied the pilgrims entry because the anniversary fell while Israel was conducing an offensive in Gaza.

    A year later, the Israeli press reported that Mubarak accepted a request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lift the limits on the number of pilgrims.

    The tomb is a vestige of Egypt’s once-prosperous Jewish community, which at the time of the first war with Israel in 1948 numbered about 80,000 people.

    But the Arab-Israeli wars, and the resentment and expulsions that they engendered, have reduced the number of Egypt’s Jews to about 60 individuals, according to the Israeli embassy.

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    9 COMMENTS

    1. Maybe its time for these ehrliche yidden to stop running around the world to daven at kevorim in Egypt, Uman, etc.where they are not really welcome. There are enough kevorim of big rabbonim, tzadikim and chashuve askanim in EY and the U.S. for anyone who feels there is some special yichus to daven at these makom kadoshim without having to incur the political and physical risks of traveling to these remote locations.
      P.S. Im told that the ebeshter will listen to your tefilot even if you daven at a pizzeria (serving chalav yisroel of course) or a Giants game at the Meadowlands.

    2. Uman and Damenhour are two completely different situations. While in both cases there is a bad element that gets the non-Jews angry at real olei regel, Damenhour is dangerous and Uman is not.

      I don’t remember whether Abir Yaakov was buried there simply because he passed away there en route to E”Y or whether he, too, asked to be buried where he is buried as Reb Nachman did for Uman. If there is no clear tzavooh, this IS a case where the remains should be relocated to E”Y ASAP. Unlike Uman, where the government is supportive of the kever and most of the problems are caused by Jewish mechalelei Hashem, in Damenhour there is a real case that fanatic locals can destroy the kever.

    3. he exspressedly asked for his remains not to be moved, therefore rebbe david abuchatzeira shlita arranged a few years ago for the kever to be fixed up, rather than moved to eretz yisrael

    4. “ Every country has the right to do with its borders as it wishes. Even the Zionist medinah has rules as to who can come in and who can’t. The whole world is not required to serve the interests of the Tzionim merely because most Jews think so, especially when Zionists are burning down mosques and oppressing Palestinians. What are the Egyptians supposed to do? Shower everybody with champagne?!

      I am surprised (or not so surprised) that this comment is still here. Who are the Zionists burning down mosques? Who feeds you this disinformation? Meharsayich Umachrivayich mimech Yezeu was said about those who make such asisnine public statements. I personally don’t support the notion of going to Egypt and jeopardising yourself for a Yohrzeit, but the Egyptians are fools to lose that revenue!!

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