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Politi, Elie

(453 words)

Author(s): Ruth Kimche
Elie I. Politi was a prominent Egyptian businessman and entrepreneur who was active in Jewish and Zionist causes in the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Chio, Greece in 1900, Politi arrived in Egypt with his family in 1906. He attended the Menasce High Schoolin Alexandria and then studied law at the French School of Law in Cairo. Politi began his career as a junior clerk in a trading firm, but advanced very quickly and became one of Egypt’s most successful businessmen, an important figure in the stock market, and an entrepreneur in the fields of real estate, insurance, banking, and jo…

Pro-Palestina Committee (Alexandria)

(168 words)

Author(s): Ruth Kimche
The Egyptian Pro-Palestina Committee was founded in Alexandria in August 1918 by a group of Alexandrian Jewish notables sympathetic to the Zionist movement. The president of the committee was Baron Felix de Menasce; the vice-presidents were Joseph Elie (Bey) Picciotto and Victor Naggiar.       Between 1918 and 1927, the committee raised the sum of 13,000 Egyptian pounds for the restoration of the Land of Israel and transferred the money to various projects and Jewish institutions in Palestine. Although the committee defined itself as hu…

Zéiré Zion Society (Alexandria)

(322 words)

Author(s): Ruth Kimche
The Zéiré Zion Association (Agudat Ṣeʿire Ṣiyyon, Young Zionist Association) was founded in Alexandria in May 1907 by Simon Zlottin with a membership of thirty and a committee made up entirely of Ashkenazim. In 1909, with the disintegration of the Tikvat Zion Association (Agudat Tiqvat-Ṣiyyon), Zéiré Zion became the only Zionist organization in Alexandria, and from then on it was the center of Zionist activity in the city. In 1912 its new leadership committee recruited Mizraḥi activists from the defunct Tikvat Zion. The organization n…

Mosseri, Jack

(447 words)

Author(s): Ruth Kimche
Jack N. Mosseri (1884–1934) was a graduate of the University of Cambridge, a banker, and a member of an affluent and influential Sephardi family that settled in Egypt in the eighteenth century. Several members of the Mosseri family were vice-presidents of the communal council of Cairo, and Mosseri’s uncle, Moses (Moïse) Cattaoui (Qaṭṭāwī, 1850–1924), was the council’s head for many years. Jack Mosseri was himself a member of the Sephardi communal council and, until 1917, headed its school committee. He was also a member of Le Cercle National Juif, founded in March 1911, an undec…

Ha-ʿIvri ha-Tzair (Egypt)

(666 words)

Author(s): Ruth Kimche
Ha-‘Ivri ha-Tzair  (Heb. Ha-ʿIvri ha-Ṣa’ir - The Young Hebrew), the first pioneer youth movement in Egypt, was an affiliate of ha-Shomer ha-Tzair (The Young Guard), a worldwide Socialist Zionist movement. Five veteran leaders of the Maccabi scout movement established Ha-ʿIvri ha-Tzair  in 1932, on the initiative of Mordechai Albagli, who had become acquainted with the kibbutz enterprise while visiting Palestine. Another of the five, Aaron Liscovitch, had learned about the movement from members of ha-Shomer ha-Tzair in Tunis with whom he corresponded, and he …

Ahavat Zion (Cairo)

(247 words)

Author(s): Ruth Kimche
The Ahavat Zion (Love of Zion) association was founded on February 18, 1906 by Ashkenazi young people in Cairo, most of them new immigrants from the lower socio-economic classes. One of ten Zionist associations founded in Cairo between 1905 and 1913, it had several dozen members, mostly Ashkenazim, and a program of national education, diffusion of the Zionist idea, and fund-raising for Zionist causes. Its president, Elkana Waisel, was also the licensed representative of the Jewish National Fund in Egypt. In December 1908, Ahavat Zion sponsored a new organization, Yalde-Ṣiyyon (Child…

Bar Kokhba Society (Cairo)

(333 words)

Author(s): Ruth Kimche
The Bar Kokhba Society was founded in Cairo in February 1897 by Joseph Marco Baruch, a native of Turkey and graduate of the Universities of Paris and Bern, who arrived in Egypt in 1896. The society was the first Zionist organization in Egypt and in the Islamic world as a whole, and thus was the focal point of Zionist activism in Egypt at the turn of the twentieth century. The elected council of Bar Kokhba, headed by Jacques Harmalin, was made up entirely of Ashkenazi Jews belonging to the middle and lower classes. When its early efforts to recruit non-Ashkenazi members proved u…

Benzakein (Ben Zaken), Félix

(386 words)

Author(s): Ruth Kimche
A native of Tanta (Ṭantah), Egypt, Félix Benzakein was born on September 30, 1895 to a family from Morocco that had arrived in Egypt around the year 1865. He attended the Alliance Israélite Universelle school in Tanta, and in 1916, after graduating from the Faculty of Law at Cairo University, embarked on a prosperous legal career, accredited by both the Egyptian law courts and the mixed-courts. Benzakein defended Maurice Fargeon in the defamation suit brought against him by the German embassy in 1934 and earned widespread admiration for his speeches during the …


(1,169 words)

Author(s): Ruth Kimche | Orly R. Rahimiyan
1. Egypt Starting in the 1930s, a number of organizations calling themselves He-Halutz ( he-ḥaluṣ, The Pioneer) appeared in Egypt. The first was established during the summer of 1933 in Cairo and served as a Zionist training center (Heb. hakhshara). It did not offer an ideological educational program and operated for only a few months before disbanding. In 1934, Moshe Ben-Asher, a local Zionist activist, established a branch of the global He-Halutz organization in Alexandria. Most of those who joined the hakhshara saw immigration to Palestine as the solution to their economi…