Eliyahu Amiel - Maccabi Cairo and Passover eve

Posted by Asaf Peled on

Maccabi Cairo was a sports association and basketball team in particular, which belonged to the Maccabi World Organization, and was previously held in the city of Cairo, the capital of Egypt.

The association was established in 1932 and ceased to exist in the late 1950s. It had a number of sports, the most important of which was basketball, when in the 1940s the team was among the most prominent in the Egyptian league. The basketball team was based on five brothers from the Harari family (Morris, Leon, Zuzi, David and Emil), the most prominent of whom, Zuzi Harari (also called Zaki Harari or Zaki Salim) was also a member of the Egyptian national team along with Eliyahu Amiel.

In 1944 the team won the Egyptian championship and in September 1945 and 1946 it held a series of games in Eretz Israel. The team also won the Egyptian championship in 1956, after defeating the Egyptian army 57:59.

In 1957, after persecution and harassment by the Egyptian government against the Jews of Egypt following the Sinai War, some of the players of the Association immigrated to Israel. Some of them were among the founders of the basketball teams of Hapoel Beer Sheva in the late 1950s and Maccabi Ashdod in the early 1960s.

Eliyahu Amiel The late (1925 - 2009), who later served as chairman of the Israeli Basketball Association in the late 1970s, told the Maariv newspaper on the eve of Passover 1979 about his memories of Egypt, 30 years earlier:

Today 30 years ago. The Egyptian national team was supposed to play in the framework of the European Basketball Championship held in Cairo. Eliyahu Amiel and Zuzi Harari, who were expelled from the team because of their Jewishness, were asked to return and take their place again. At first Amiel evaded - "I was sure that in the end they would not allow us to play, and I did not want to go through the disappointment again", but the team needed them and they were instructed to report to the training camp.

Since these were Passover eve days, they even made sure to bring them kosher food for the holiday from a Jewish restaurant.

"We lived in a military camp," says Amiel, smiling when he remembered how the military policeman would salute him every time he entered and left the camp.

The end of the story was not happy - the two did not finally get on the field in the team uniform.

After the game, Amiel decided to leave Egypt with a clear goal - "Revenge! Go out into a foreign land, meet them on another field and defeat them! "

Thirty years later, after establishing a home in Israel and advancing to be chairman of the Israel Basketball Association, he found peace and no longer needed the revenge he sought.

Indeed, when an offer was made to host the Egyptian national team for a game in the Land of Israel, he rejected it outright.


Maariv, April 13, 1979



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