BASSATINE NEWS  the ONLY Jewish newsletter reporting directly from Egypt
A Community Chronicle put out by the Jewish Community Council (JCC) of Cairo since 1995



Cultural & Historic Soundbites

CHEHATA HAROUN dies in Cairo (1920-2001)

Shehata Haroun
Chehata Haroun with Carmen Weinstein, his wife Marcelle Halfon and son-in-law Mr. Ahmed Kassem

The founder of Chehata Haroun Law Firm died on 16 March 2001 after a long struggle with illness. He was buried at Bassatine three days later enabling the arrival of a rabbi to officiate at the ceremony.

In his book The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry (University of California Press, 1989), Joel Beinin describes Haroun (spelt Shihata Harun in Beinin's book), in the following terms: "Haroun insisted on the importance of upholding the distinction between a Zionist Jew and one who is not. Haroun joined the Democratic Movement for National Liberation by Henri Curiel in the 1940s and ultimately became a member of the Communist Party of Egypt."

One of the handful of Egyptian communists who continued to live in Egypt after the 1950s, Haroun authored Yahudi fi al-Kahira (A Jew in Cairo), a collection of letters, interviews, and essays written from 1967 to 1985 in which he defines himself as an Egyptian Jew, an anti-Zionist, an Egyptian nationalist, a supporter of national rights of the Palestininan people, and an opponent of the Camp David process." (Beinin: P. 247)

Mr. Haroun (a.k.a Rene Silvera) is survived by his wife Marcelle Halfon, two daughters, Magda (Mrs. Roberto Orfanelli) and Nadia (Mrs. Ahmed Kassem), and four grandchildren.

Bassatine News and the JCC offer their condolences to the Haroun family.

Note: Chehata also spelt Shehata

j’ai appris la mort d’un ami très cher. Chehata Haroun était égyptien et juif. Très jeune, dans les années 1940, cet avocat avait rejoint le combat communiste. Il refusa obstinément d’émigrer vers Israël ou vers l’Europe, comme le firent la plupart de ses coreligionnaires. Sur sa tombe, on a lu ces quelques lignes qu’il avait rédigées : « Chaque être humain a plusieurs identités. Je suis un être humain. Je suis Egyptien lorsque les Egyptiens sont opprimés. Je suis Noir lorsque les Noirs sont opprimés. Je suis juif lorsque les juifs sont opprimés et je suis Palestinien lorsque les Palestiniens sont opprimés. » Il déclinait toute appartenance « étroite », toute assignation à une identité figée, excluante. Il mena dans son pays un combat rude, parfois douloureux. Il fut arrêté à plusieurs reprises comme communiste mais aussi comme juif et « donc » comme agent potentiel d’Israël. Il suscita même parfois la méfiance de certains de ses propres camarades de gauche, incapables de faire la différence entre « juif » et « sioniste ». »
Alain Gresh - Le Monde Diplomatique - France

Shehata Haroun's epitaph at Bassatine Cemetery:

Chaque être humain a plusieurs identités
Je suis un être humain
Je suis égyptien lorsque les Égyptiens sont opprimés
Je suis noir lorsque les Noirs sont opprimés
Je suis juif lorsque les Juifs sont opprimés
et je suis palestinien lorsque les Palestiniens sont opprimés


Chehata Haroun mentioned in the American Jewish Yearbook of 1985
Ahram Weekly (
AP Interview with Haroun Sisters


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