Does it get any weirder than this Egyptian suit unwittingly validates biblical claims

It had to be a joke. An Egyptian lawyer, the Israeli newspaper

Ma’ariv recently reported, is planning to sue “every

Jew in the world” for the “theft” of 1,125 trillion tons of

Egyptian gold during the Exodus 3,000 years ago.

“This was the greatest act of collective deception in history,”

explained the lawyer, Nabil Hilmi. He graciously

offered to spread the repayment term over the next 1,000

years — with interest, of course.

But this is the Middle East, and it’s no joke. Nor is

Hilmi a crackpot: He happens to be the dean of a law

school in Cairo. And he’s assembled a team of 15

Egyptian lawyers to pursue the case before an international

court. All in the name of justice.

The surrealistic suit says much about the quality of

moral discourse in the Arab world today. That the Jews

were slaves — to a Pharaoh whom the Koran itself calls

evil — is as irrelevant to Hilmi as the fact that the current

war of suicide bombings was launched after Israel offered

the Palestinians a state with east Jerusalem as its capital. In

the culture of self-pity that has gripped the Arab world,

justice and grievance belongs to its side alone.

Still, there is, potentially, good news in this deeply

depressing story. By

intending to sue “every

Jew in the world” for

the theft of Pharaoh’s

gold, Hilmi is acknowledging

that Jews are the

legitimate descendants

of the children of Israel.

That is by no means

a given in the anti-

Jewish discourse in

much of the Arab world, which is currently engaged in

a massive rewriting of Jewish history. According to

Arab revisionism, the Jews have no roots in the land of

Israel. Instead, they are an impostor people who

expropriated the biblical story, just as they stole


One highly popular Arab notion is that the Jews are

descended from the Khazhars, the Asiatic Russian tribe

that converted to Judaism in the ninth century. (As if that

would matter: Membership in the people of Israel is

determined by conversion as well as birth.)

remember the favors that God bestowed on you when he

appointed apostles from among you, and made you kings

and gave you what had never been given to any one in the

world. Enter then, my people, the Holy Land that God has

ordained for you.'”

I once asked a journalist from Israel’s fundamentalist

Islamic Movement what he made of those verses, and he

replied with a knowing smile, “Do the Jews in Tel Aviv follow

God’s word? Are the Jews today Moses’ people?”

Hilmi, for one, would have to answer that they were. If

Jews can be sued for the gold of the Exodus, then surely

they are heirs to the Koran’s promise that the Holy Land

would belong to the people of Moses. Perhaps, when

Zionists base their claims on Scripture, they should cite

not just the Bible but the Koran, too.

Yossi Klein Halevi is a contributing editor and Israel

correspondent for The New Republic. He is author of “At the

Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with

Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land.” The column previously

appeared in The Jerusalem Post.