Monday, October 26, 2009

Mizrahi Zionism?

Over at Point of No Return, there's a story from JTA News about:
They call it the 'Sephardi Spielberg' project. An international effort to gather the oral testimonies of Jews displaced from Arab countries before they all disappear, and record these stories on videotape, is gathering steam.
A wonderful effort.
As part of an international consortium led by Hebrew University and the University of Miami that is collecting and documenting testimony from these Mizrahim, or Jews from Arabic-speaking countries, Jimena has launched a visual history project to interview those now living on the West Coast.

Jimena's East Coast partner, the American Sephardi Federation in New York, began its interviews of New York-area Sephardim in September, while partners in several other countries are working to collect oral testimonies in their regions. Each project is responsible for its own funding.
Jimena, btw, has a FAQ with an interesting emphasis. Mizrahim have been claimed for a variety of political agendas, often at odds with each other and often with a galling refusal to actually listen to what Mizrahim say. So there's an impulse for me not to try to speak for Mizrahim and to stick to my own experiences. Except that would mean abandoning a role as an ally. So, hopefully, I can do a fine job of listening while drawing attention to the difficulty of my role. In this particular moment, however, I don't think there's much difficulty in listening to what Jimena is trying to say:
Q. Is there a connection between the Palestinian issue and the Jewish refugees from Arab states?

A. Yes. Much of the responsibility of the expulsion of the indigenous Jews of the Middle East and North Africa by Arab governments lies with the Palestinian political leadership who engaged in anti-Jewish incitement throughout the Arab world, with the help of Nazi Germany during World War Two, and after the war.

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