5 Jewish Women You’ve Never Heard Of Who Changed the Middle East and North Africa
The story of these five Jewish women, each whom rose to fame in their respective countries and throughout the Arab world is a larger story than just about them. It is a story of 850,000 Jews that lived in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) for ages, until the tragic expulsion from 1947 to 1972.
1. Lilian Levy Cohen, aka Camelia, was the most famed Egyptian actress. She was Jewish, born in 1929, and in the 4 short years of her career starred in 18 movies. Camelia died in a plane crush in 1950. The story about the plane crash being the adoing of King Farouk was widely accepted, although the reason for the crash was officially “unknown”. Before her death, she was accused of being a secret agent for Israel.
2. Leila Murad was an Egyptian singer and actress, and one of the most prominent superstars in the Arab world in her era. She was born as Lillian Zaki Murad Mordechai to a Jewish family in Cairo. With the establishment of Israel and threats to her life, she converted to Islam in 1947.
3. Salima Mourad was a well-known Iraqi Jewish singer and was highly respected in the Arab world. She was given the nickname “Pasha” by the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Said, who loved her music. Nazem al-Ghazali, a muslim student of Mourad, ne of the singers nurtured by Mourad became her husband, and one of the most famous singers in Iraq, a Muslim man, Nazem al-Ghazali. In 1963 Al-Ghazali died suddenly of cardiac arrest, from that moment she refused to sing and didn’t leave the house. Mourad was very proud of her Jewish heritage but when she died, in 1974, she was buried in a Muslim cemetery.
4. Alice Fitoussi was an Algerian Jewish singer and musician, born in Algeria. She is known for her songs in the Andalusian and hawzii style during Algeria’s pre-independence period. In 1947 she began to only sing poetic songs in honor of Prophet Mohammed, for an Arab-Muslim audience.
5. Zohara Alfasiya was Moroccan Jewish singer and poet. Considered as the queen of the melhoun and gharnati genres, she was one of the pioneers of modern Arabic music and the first female recording artist in Morocco. Following immense pressure In 1962, she left Morocco for Israel. She lived in poverty in the Israeli city of Ashkelon until she passed away.
Ours and their stories have been ignored by the international community for far too long. Time to demand justice from the UN, the International Community and the Arab League who took everything from us. They took our lives, they stole our land and property and they must pay for the cultural genocide of MENA Jews.
No justice, no peace.