Why do anti-Zionist Jews ignore my Middle Eastern history?

They call for boycotting speeches by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, citing his “racist” remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

By LEA SUISSA
January 16, 2019 22:49
4 minute read.
Pro-Palestinian protesters participate in a protest organized by Al Adl wal Ihsane.

Pro-Palestinian protesters participate in a protest organized by Al Adl wal Ihsane, a Moroccan Islamist association, in solidarity with the Palestinian people, in Casablanca, Morocco May 20, 2018.. (photo credit: YOUSSEF BOUDLAL / REUTERS)

 
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In the name of free speech, the anti-Zionist Jewish movement IfNotNow – which vows that the current generation of young American Jews “will be the generation that ends our community’s support for the occupation” – criticizes the Democratic Party leadership for supporting bipartisan anti-BDS legislation.

They call for boycotting speeches by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, citing his “racist” remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

They initiated a campaign urging young Jews to ask questions about the “occupation” on their Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, and then to extend their visits in Israel so that they can go on anti-Israel tours.

Yet while they rant about the injustices of the so-called occupation, claiming that American Jews care deeply about “oppressed” peoples, IfNotNow members and other like-minded anti-Zionist Jewish activists have absolutely nothing to say about the oppression experienced by their Jewish brethren in the Arab world. They ignore my story.

Anti-Zionist Jews prefer to invoke the Palestinian “Nakba” – Arabic for the “catastrophe” that was the State of Israel’s establishment, accompanied by more than 700,000 Arabs fleeing their homes (or as the Palestinian narrative alleges, getting expelled from their homes) during the 1948 war. But as a Moroccan Jew who was compelled to immigrate to Israel when I was nine years old, I grew up in the shadow of the Jewish Nakba. During this Nakba, more than 850,000 Jews were forced to flee the Arab world. Jews from Arab countries arrived in Israel as refugees with no more than the clothes on their backs. Nonetheless, rather than identify with their own people, anti-Zionist Jews lament the plight of Palestinian refugees.

While Morocco did not expel its Jews like countries such as Egypt and Iraq did, Moroccan Jews still suffered from an intense wave of antisemitism from the moment French rule was declining, until the day my family left the country. In the 1950s, a wave of terror attacks targeted the Jewish community. It was just as bloody as the Second Intifada. While there was a decrease in anti-Jewish terror attacks after Morocco attained independence, Jews still feared for their future.

By the 1960s, the bulk of our community had already departed the country, and we were cut off from those dearest to us. At the same time, we remained Jews in a Muslim-majority nation, which is a very difficult situation. One of my relatives was abducted, raped and forcefully converted to Islam. Non-Muslims frequently suffer such indignities in the Arab world. In fact, when I recently traveled to Morocco, I visited the grave of Suleika, a Jewish woman who was martyred because she refused to leave the faith of her ancestors and marry a Muslim. To this day, she serves as an inspiration for Moroccan Jewish women, with many pilgrims from around the world visiting her grave. My relative spent her entire life as a hostage, unable to join the rest of our family in Israel. Many Moroccan Jewish girls got married young just so they would not face a similar fate.

Given what my family suffered, it is highly disturbing that the young Jewish American activists of IfNotNow demonstrate complete ignorance of my Middle Eastern history. While the epicenter of their mission is combating Palestinian suffering, they mention nothing on their website about the injustices suffered by the Jews of the Arab world except for a brief mention of the economic injustices we faced. There is no mention of the horrors Arab countries inflicted upon Jews.

I am an olive-skinned, marginalized Jewish woman from Morocco. When my son participated in a Birthright tour as an Israeli, he represented our voice and did everything he could to share Moroccan Jewish culture with the Americans on the trip. On the same tour, Americans were exposed to Druze and Bedouin culture as well as other aspects of Israel’s diverse landscape – far more than rehashing IDF talking points, as IfNotNow accuses Birthright of doing. Jews from the Arab world are invisible to IfNotNow and other radical leftist groups in the US.

For anti-Zionist Jews, the story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict entails violent, white, “colonialist” Jewish settlers fighting against poor, dark-skinned, oppressed Palestinians. Yet there are plenty of impoverished Jews of color whose narrative they blatantly ignore.

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi – the blonde-haired, blue-eyed terror advocate and media darling who participated in violent riots and smacked an IDF soldier – lives like a celebrity, going on world tours to champion the Palestinian cause.

Simultaneously, peaceful dark-skinned Middle Eastern Jewish refugees, who want nothing more than to be compensated for their suffering and to move on with their lives, can only dream of garnering the public spotlight that Tamimi receives.
It is time for this charade to end. If not now, when?

The writer is a contributor to the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center.

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