Mar 31, 2014

Egyptian lawsuit for the Ten Plagues

In a new story that is as old as the Talmud, an Egyptian journalist wants to sue Israel for the Ten Plagues.

Ahmed Al-Gamal, an Egyptian journalist, has called upon the Egyptian government to sue the State of Israel for the Ten Plagues.

Al-Gamal says that our ancestors were hit with the Ten Plagues as a result of the curses of the ancestors of the Jews. Our ancestors did not need to suffer for the mistakes of the ruler of Egypt at the time, whom the Torah calls Pharoah. The Torah proves it was Pharoah who afflicted the Jews, and not the Egyptians. Yet they then brought upon us the plague of locusts that destroyed Egyptian agriculture, blood that turned the Nile to blood and nobody could drink for a long time, darkness that turned days to nights, frogs and a plague that killed firstborn sons..

Al-Gamal also says that for 40 years as the Jews traveled through the desert, they benefited from Egyptian products they had stolen on their way out. He specifically mentioned the gold, silver, copper, valuable gems, materials, leathers, wooden beams, wool, animals in order to build their Temple in the desert and to serve their religion. Desert nomads could not have owned such possessions and they must have been stolen from Egypt (I guess he does not know the midrash about the Jews being given the wealth on their way out after having found it all during the plague of darkness).

Al-Gamal also wants Egypt to sue the French for Napolean's invasion of Egypt, the British for their colonialism, and Turkey for when they conquered Egypt during the time of the Ottoman rule.
source: NRG and Kikar
This is not the first time such an idea is being suggested. It was suggested in 2003 by a Dean of Law in an Egyptian university suggested the same. Before that the Gemara in Sanhedrin relates a story of such a lawsuit being prepared, which Alexander the Great quashed after hearing the counter-argument that the Egyptians owe much more money to the Jews for enslaving them for centuries.

I don't need to make the counter-argument that has been made in the past. The years of unpaid labor, adding  unpaid overtime and pensions, the assault, beatings, murders, inhumane treatment, etc. 

As well, it was not the Jews who smote the Egyptians with plagues, but God. Why sue the Jews - just because of undetailed "curses"? And why sue Israel rather than some other global consortium of Jews - Israel only represents about half the worlds Jews - why not sue all the Jews?

I must say, it is great timing coming just before Pesach...

I find it interesting that he both uses the Torah as his source, as the Quran itself supposedly tells a different story of what happened in Egypt. 

There are two sides to this: 
1. if they believe the historical accuracy of the Torah, as shown by this lawsuit idea, the rest of the Torah should be accepted by them as well - the promises of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people and anything else relevant. If they don't believe the historical accuracy of the Torah, then this lawsuit idea is just a nuisance.
2. if they can [repeatedly] come up with such an idea for a lawsuit based on the Torah's description of events, it cannot really be for a real lawsuit. i cannot believe the Hague or some other court would actually try a case based on such claims, but perhaps it is to give us a "kick in the pants" as some sort of reminder or booster to our own faith and approach to the stories of the Torah.

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  1. Don't forget the back-pay that 600k Jews (or as many as 5 million) Jews are owed for 210 years of work

  2. Totally awesome post! -LFD

  3. I disagree Rafi. Israel is indeed the de facto and de jure representative of the Jewish people qua people or nation. It is that moral standing (occasionally recognized legally, as well) that allowed Israel to hunt down Eichman and other criminals, or to negotiate the reparations agreement with Germany (without arguing the wisdom of that, for the moment). Socially, Israel impacts the image and standing of Jews all over the world. So IF someone wants to sue or negotiate with the Jewish nation, Israel would indeed be the correct address.

    1. Mordechai, by extension, would that mean that Egyptian would have to acknowledge Am YIsrael's special connection to The Holy One, Blessed Be He, and that we are his representatives on this earth?

  4. Rafi, I would have written about this, but not only did you do so, but I believe you covered all of the bases I would have.

    I might add one thing, related to no. 2 at the bottom. I wouldn't put it passed them, and yes, that could be an extension of the kick in the pants. Not only that, I can envision Erev Rav (of the leftist variety, they come in all shapes and sizes) offering testimony on Egypt's behalf.

    Interestingly enough, another question needs to be asked. Are the current Egyptians really Mitzrim, or are they just Arab conquerors?

  5. Gotta love April.


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