Sunday, July 16, 2017

Jerusalem Museum of Jews from Arab Countries proposed

An  architect of Tunisian origin is behind a project to build a Museum to Jews from Arab Countries.  Jean-Loup Mordehai Msika explains why such a museum, in the heart of Jerusalem, is vital to inform visitors of the ancient roots of the Jewish people in the Middle East. The project, unveiled publically for the first time on Point of No Return,  has the backing of  the coalition of associations of Jews from Arab countries in Israel and is now with the Jerusalem municipality for approval. 







Two views of the model of the proposed Memorial-Museum, known provisionally as 'the Museum of Jews from Arab Countries' (Beit Yehudei Artzot Arav) 
 Architect Jean-Loup Mordehai Msika

"When dignitaries, diplomats or foreign heads of state visit Israel, they are ritually taken to Yad Vashem, as if this museum revealed the founding element of modern Israel and Zionism. This only reinforces the false narrative circulated by our enemies, according to which Israel would be a colonial creation of Europe, as a compensation for the Holocaust, "at the expense of the Palestinians."

 This is not helpful, as Tel Aviv University international relations professor Emmanuel Navon remarked on i24news during President Trump's recent visit. By consequence, Israel is perceived as a "colonial" state, and the catastrophic Security Council and UNESCO resolutions denying any historical link of the Jews to Jerusalem or Hebron are applauded by the nations ...

 For a long time, I have been thinking about the need to create, in the capital, Jerusalem, a major place, a Memorial-Museum, dedicated to the history and culture of the Jews from Arab and Muslim countries, so as to inform foreign heads of state, visiting dignitaries and diplomats about the ancient roots of the Jewish people, the genuine aboriginal people in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Jews were present there centuries before Christianity or Islam ever existed. They were occupied and colonized by Muslims in the 7th century, subjected to the status of "dhimma" (a cruel system of apartheid), to genocide over the centuries and to ethnic cleansing in the 20th century.

 Jewish independence in the state of Israel, in the very region where its ancient roots are a historical fact, is the only alternative to the unacceptable "dhimma" that lasted 14 centuries. All of this needs to be made apparent and obvious by a visible Memorial-Museum, in the heart of the capital, Jerusalem.

I happen to be an architect, a town planner and a visual artist. In agreement with the Coalition of Jewish Associations of Arab and Muslim Countries, represented by its President, Mrs Levana Zamir, I have endeavoured to work on a proposal for a Memorial-Museum dedicated to the history and culture of Jews from Arab and Muslim Countries.

 Under Mrs Levana Zamir's guidance, we held on 26 June 2017 a whole day symposium, at the Cultural Center of the Jews from Egypt, in Tel Aviv and a fruitful brainstorming. "This is not out of the blue," said Zamir at the symposium, "one of the resolutions presented to Prime Minister Netanyahu in June 2011, by the National Security Council, was exactly that: to establish a Museum for the History of the Jews from Arab and Islamic countries, as an integral part of that region, and to commemorate the "ethnic cleansing" tragedy of almost one million Jews from their ancestral land of birth - giving legitimation to the state of Israel".


In June 2017, the heads of the Coalition of associations representing Jews from Arab Countries in Israel held a brainstorming on the museum project. 

 During the symposium, I presented detailed program for the Memorial-Museum, drawings, a 3D model, and a proposal for the most appropriate site, in the urban context of the capital, etc ... We are now waiting for a chance to discuss this proposal with the municipality of Jerusalem after we deposited the 3D model of the Museum at the Mayor of Jerusalem's Office."

24 comments:

Sylvia said...

The best kept secret that nobody ever mentions, this article included, is that there exists a Museum of North African Jewry in Jerusalem already, a real jewel located in the first neighborhood built by individuals Moroccan Jews (not by philanthropists) outside the city walls --another fact that is carefully kept out of public consciousness.

It is in Bet Hamaravim a building dating from 1854 and restored a few years ago against all odds, and located Rehov HaMaravim 11, Jerusalem.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Africa_Jewish_Heritage_Center

bataween said...

Correct, the museum of North African Jewry is a gem. The trouble with it is that it is hardly ever open. If it wants more visitors, it the situation can be remedied with ease.

Sylvia said...

It's open everyday to groups.

Yet, I don't see why that fact should prevent anyone from mentioning its existence.

Same for the article on the first Jerusalem neighborhoods that was posted here. The three first neighborhoods outside the city wall didn't include the Maghreban neighborhood, the first to be founded by individuals in the 19th century and the second after the one founded by philanthropists.

I am not saying this just to gripe, but there is an immense effort of alienation of Moroccan Jewish heritage in particular and Sephardi heritage in general going on that I have been documenting and it is very frustrating. Some do it out of malice, but most do it out of ignorance.

Jean-Loup Msika said...

Dear Sylvia,
The Museum you mentioned is called "David Amar centre-mondial-du-judaisme-nord-africain".
It is located at the end of a very narrow passage between buildings and difficult to locate.
It is adorned with beautiful traditional morrocan tile work called "Zellige" and shows some ancient morrocan costumes and photographs.
There is very little room in the building, and no appropriate room to receive heads of states with their suite, for them to discover the very ancient history, over thousands of years, including "dhimma" over 14 centuries, and ethnic cleansing of 900 000 jews from so many arabic countries, and the rich culture of the jews, from Afghanistan to Morroco, and from Syria to Yemen.
No room for public concerts and conferences other than confidential, for a very small audience.
No room for large exhibitions, consistant archives, sustained creative work, etc...
There exists, in Or Yehuda, near Tel Aviv, a very interesting museum dedicated to the jews from Irak.
However, a major Memorial-Museum needs to be located in the capital.
Because it is unfortunately difficult to invite foreign presidents and prime ministers, on short visits, to small cities outside the capital.
Also the capital is where the whole world visits.
Our proposal is for a very visible Memorial-Museum which will be 15 times bigger than the David Amar center and will be visited by crowds, not small groups, in the very center of Jerusalem.
It will possibly link with the David Amar center and with the Or Yehuda museum for joint cultural events, festivals, etc...which could also be beneficial for these existing locations.

Sylvia said...

It is true that both the Babylonian Heritage center and Bet haMaaravim are more about preservation than exhibition. What I am saying is that the impression one gets from the article is that the new museum project will be established on a tabula rasa, which is unfair considering what the other went through to get to this point.

In any case, good luck and looking forward to hear more about the kind of content it will offer.

Jean-Loup Msika said...

Je livre trois extraits de commentaires réunis au sujet de notre projet, commentaires par Daniel Sibony, Claude Berger et Bat Ye'or

“....Faire connaitre la vérité est la condition essentielle pour envisager la paix. La vérité de 13 siècles d’histoire ne peut pas être niée sans danger.
Faire comprendre la persécution-protectrice des juifs dans le monde arabe : protégés de la foule pour être rançonnés, et livrés à la foule ou aux forces de l’ordre pour exalter l’islam contre ces « maudits d’Allah » et ces «infideles » (non-croyants). C’est en tant que force coloniale que la puissance arabe, armée d’un Livre qui appelle à la guerre sainte a persécuté les juifs qui étaient dans ces contrées avant le djihad conquérant. “
Daniel Sibony

"...l’Etat de la nation juive ne peut être un Etat comme les autres : Il doit se revendiquer de la pensée de Jérusalem comme l’avait magistralement annoncé Moses Hess, auteur de « Rome et Jérusalem » qui fut proche puis contradicteur de Marx et d’Engels et qui fut le visionnaire du futur pays juif, Moses Hess reconnu par Herzl comme le plus grand penseur juif après Spinoza. Dès lors la reconstruction de l’unité du peuple juif qui fut dispersé est impérative. Elle passe par le saisissement mémoriel de toutes les cultures créées par les exilés dans les pays où ils se sont trouvés, où ils ont vécus en exil, où ils ont survécu. Elle passe par l’affirmation culturelle de la pensée de Jérusalem".
Claude Berger

"…...Cette réappropriation de l’histoire ne doit pas être une revanche, mais une main tendue vers les musulmans pour les aider à répudier l’idéologie jihadiste et à reconnaître les droits des autres peuples. Cela sera très difficile et nous ne parviendrons pas à ce but tout seul. Nous avons besoin des autres peuples victimes de la dhimmitude. Seulement si nous parlons d’une voix unie réussirons-nous à amener les intellectuels musulmans à opérer cette grande réforme nécessaire à l’islam et au monde. Voilà la mission de la dhimmitude et celle d’Israël, amener la paix et la réconciliation sur le monde. Flatter l’islam comme on l’a fait jusqu’à présent ne fera que l’enfoncer dans son fanatisme, le persuader de sa perfection et donc refuser le changement".
Bat Ye'or

Anonymous said...

On my most recent trip to Israel I visited the Jewish Babylonian Heritage Museum in Or Yehuda which is wonderful, but it is of course limited to the Jews from Iraq. I saw the sign for the Museum for North African Jewry but did not have time to visit. I think Israel definitely needs a museum dedicated to all Jews from Arab countries. Not just for visiting heads of state, but for all visitors and for Israelis as well. Good luck with your endeavor. I hope to visit the museum when it opens.

Esther Carciente said...

For the Museum of North African Jewry:
http://www.tsarfatv.com/magazine-13.html a 10:40 minutes

by Davsil said...

Since the museum will showcase Jews from "Arab countries", will there also be an exhibition(s) of the ancient homeland, Israel, where Jews have lived for thousands of years (hundreds of years more than in the "Arab countries" themselves). If not, then the museum will still reinforce the idea that Israel is a settler-colonial state, and if that's the case, you may as well not even bother building it, and the Zionists could just continue dragging people to Yad Vashem. Outside of Israel, Jews are NOT aboriginal to these "Arab countries". When the Jews first settled there, these countries were already inhabited with aboriginal NON-Arab peoples and today, the descendants of these aboriginal peoples are the Copts, Maronites, Berbers, Assyrians, etc. (Calling these peoples, including Jews, and their homelands "Arab" is very insulting.) With this in mind, and the fact that not every country in the Middle East was meant to be Arab, perhaps the name of the museum should be changed - maybe the "Museum of Jews from ARABIC Countries".

Jean-Loup Msika said...

Dear Davsil,
The final name of this Memorial-Museum is still being debated: it is not simple to determine.
Thank you for contributing your observations.
In any case, we will show that the jews were the aboriginal people in Eretz Israel, but also that they were present centuries before the arab invasion of the middle-east and north Africa, in the region which later became the arab and muslim states.

bataween said...

Davsil is right, it should perhaps be more appropriate to call it the museum of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa. That would of course not limit it to Arab countries, and people might expect it to cover communitiies from Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and elsewhere in the Muslim world which may be beyond its scope.

Bataween

Sylvia said...

Indeed a lot of thought should be put in the name, considering that the great majority of those countries have not always been under Arab rule.

This area for example has been under the Christian rule of the crusaders, and for some 7 centuries under Ottoman (non-Arab) rule not to mention the 19th-20th European imperialisms.

The common denominator throughout those centuries however was Islamic jurisprudence that regulated social status.

Sylvia said...

Esther Carciente
Ce reportage est excellent. כל הכבוד!
Il est important de souligner pour ceux qui s'étonnent de ne pas voir de peintures ou de sculptures (du moins par des juifs avant la modernité) que sous l'islam la représentation d'objets animés ou de personnes était interdite. Et donc l'art traditionnel trouvait son expression chez les juifs comme chez les musulmans dans les montages géometriques, la calligraphie et l'architecture ainsi que les collages et la broderie.

Je ne connaissais pas ce site TsarfatTV qui semble très intéressant.

Sylvia said...

How about this name:
Jerusalem Museum of the People of the Book?

bataween said...

A nice echo of The Shrine of the Book, but it would have to be a museum of the entire Jewish people, including Ashkenazim.

Jean-Loup Msika said...

"a museum of the entire Jewish people", absolutely!

As Claude Berger wrote in his contribution to this project:

"...la reconstruction de l’unité du peuple juif qui fut dispersé est impérative. Elle passe par le saisissement mémoriel de toutes les cultures créées par les exilés dans les pays où ils se sont trouvés, où ils ont vécus en exil, où ils ont survécu. Elle passe par l’affirmation culturelle de la pensée de Jérusalem".

Translated in english:

"...the reconstruction of the unity of the Jewish people which was dispersed is imperative. It passes through the memorial grasp of all the cultures created by the exiles in the countries where they found themselves, where they lived in exile, where they survived. It goes through the cultural affirmation of the thought of Jerusalem. "

On peut donc imaginer des concerts de musique Yiddish par exemple, dans notre futur Musée-Mémorial d'histoire et de culture des juifs d'orient. Pourquoi pas? etc...

Jean-Loup Msika said...

"It passes through the memorial grasp of all the cultures created by the exiles in the countries where they found themselves, where they lived in exile, where they survived"

We can therefore imagine Yiddish music concerts, for example, in our future Memorial Museum of History and Culture of Oriental Jews. Why not? etc...
There should also be room for the memory and the culture of the other people who were and are still subjected to dhimma and persecution, like the Kurds, the Amazighs, the Yazidis, etc...

Bat Ye'or wrote, in relation to our project:
"...Cette réappropriation de l’histoire ne doit pas être une revanche, mais une main tendue vers les musulmans pour les aider à répudier l’idéologie jihadiste et à reconnaître les droits des autres peuples. Cela sera très difficile et nous ne parviendrons pas à ce but tout seul. Nous avons besoin des autres peuples victimes de la dhimmitude. Seulement si nous parlons d’une voix unie réussirons-nous à amener les intellectuels musulmans à opérer cette grande réforme nécessaire à l’islam et au monde".

which translates in english as:

"... This reappropriation of history must not be a revenge but a hand extended to the Muslims to help repudiate the jihadist ideology and to recognize the rights of other peoples. This will be very difficult and we will not achieve this on our own. We need other peoples who are victims of dhimmitude. Only if we speak in a united voice will we succeed in getting the Muslim intellectuals to carry out this great reform necessary for Islam and the world".

Sylvia said...

Bataween
Ahl al Kitab (The people of the Book) is the term by which Islamic jurisprudence in Muslim lands refers to Christians and Jews in their midst. Exclusively.

Jean-Loup Msika said...

Yes, Sylvia.
Dhimma applies only to jews and christians.
But many other people have been and are still subjected to persecution under islamic colonial rule.
That is why I mentioned " ...room for the memory and the culture of the other people who were and are still subjected to dhimma AND persecution, like the Kurds, the Amazighs, the Yazidis, etc..."

Soliloque said...

je trouve la construction de ce projet de musée très attendue par les juifs qui ont vécu en Terres d'Islam et qui ont été expulsés.
Comme disent très bien Daniel Sibony et Bat Ye'Or, le monde entier doit se rendre compte de ce qui a été vécu par ces juifs; il importe aussi de savoir que ces juifs, justement, n'étaient pas nécessairement originaires d'Israël, mais que leur présence ait été attestée depuis des siècles,dans les pays dont ils ont été expulsés et malmenés avant d'être expulsés, avant la conquête arabe me paraît au contraire, essentielle à souligner, car leur présence sur ces terres devenues arabes depuis 14 siècles apparaît pour le coup, beaucoup plus légitimée que la présence puis les exactions des musulmans à leur encontre qui ont suivi.

Fernando Tapia said...

This museum should document the direct relationship between the history of the Jews in the land of Israel and the various exiles from the time of the Patriarchs to the present day. I think it would be right to name it 'Museum of the Land of Israel and the Jewish Diasporas' It seems to me “a-historical” to differentiate between the Jewish communities that settled in countries of the Middle East, North Africa and Far East (Sephardic and 'Mizrahi') and In Europe (Ashkenazi). I say 'a-historical' because Jewish people historical continuity is lost. In addition, the important point is to remind the Jewish historical legitimacy as Middle East native people has not been lost despite the expulsion after the destruction of the Second Temple. On the other hand, it is inaccurate to speak of the Jews from the Arab countries but, in any case, countries where Islam was imposed by means of war and conquest in nations that were not Arabs, a phenomenon that occurred belatedly in history after the Jewish presence in those lands. I understand that the important point is to emphasize the importance and transcendence of these Middle East and North Africa communities in the historical continuity of Israel as original nation in this region in order to fight the thesis that nowadays Israel is the product of Persecution in Europe and, in particular, during the National Socialist regime. Obviously, the Museum would strive to make visible and notorious the communal life of the Jews in the regions of M E and North Africa, their permanent and direct relationship with the Jewish communities in the Land of Israel and worldwide

Jean-Loup Msika said...

Thank you Fernando for your comment. We would like this historical and cultural Memorial-Museum to be very inclusive.

1/ As Claude Berger wrote:
"...the reconstruction of the unity of the Jewish people which was dispersed is imperative. It passes through the memorial grasp of all the cultures created by the exiles in the countries where they found themselves, where they lived in exile, where they survived. It goes through the cultural affirmation of the thought of Jerusalem. "

"the memorial grasp of all the cultures created by the exiles in the countries where they found themselves.." should be present as a central concern. For instance, Andalusian and Yiddish cultures can both express themselves there and reconnect, etc...

2/ As Bat Ye'or wrote:
"... This reappropriation of history must not be a revenge but a hand extended to the Muslims to help repudiate the jihadist ideology and to recognize the rights of other peoples. This will be very difficult and we will not achieve this on our own. We need other peoples who are victims of dhimmitude. Only if we speak in a united voice will we succeed in getting the Muslim intellectuals to carry out this great reform necessary for Islam and the world".

Therefore, the minorities other than jewish which have suffered under islamic colonial rule, and do still suffer nowadays, will also be present (conferences, shows, concerts, etc...).

Sylvia said...

Fernando There is already a Museum of the Jewish people also known as Diaspora Museum Bet Hatefutzot in Tel Aviv which exposes from the Arch of Titus with the Menora all the way to Bob Dylan. It sits on 100 000 square meters and is supported by rich American organizations and individuals. This, it seems to me, is exactly the Museum Claude Berger is talking about.

There are also important Yiddish music festivals, yiddish klezmer concerts, yiddish radio, yiddish news you name it. This while the sounds of Judeo-arabic dialects have been totally suppressed. Even the half-hour radio program in Judeo-Moroccan is no more.

There is in addition a plethora of museums throughout Israel, practically each kibbutz has a museum with the distinctive culture of its founders, and there is the Israel Museum and Yad Vashem which is about the Shoah.

For instance, Andalusian and Yiddish cultures can both express themselves there and reconnect, etc...

Strange you should mention that Jean-Loup, but I hate to say, that too is already on its way to becoming a reality.
The old Andalusian orchestra Jerusalem (not Ashdod) is now named the Andalusian Mizrah uMaarav (East and West) and purports to present the musical culture of all the Mediterranean countries and their neighbours. So Yiddish can't be too far away. As a gesture of generosity, they threw in Jo Amar into this year's program, squeezed between the French chansonniers and Shlomo Gronish.

So why not? Precedents.

Your model for the museum is totally on the mark and in itself evokes an entire program. It is very smart because it depict both the individual community and the collective community. The high fortified walls remind me the Mellah of my childhood and those (ten?) coverings seem to symbolize as many oppressive hands. Others will probably see something else.

Ben said...

Are there enough artefacts to populate such a museum properly? A paucity of exhibits or too narrow a range, for whatever the reason, will be counterproductive and undermine rather than strengthen the intended message of the enterprise.

Just asking.