Anti-Zionist Jewish NGO: Israel co-opted Mimouna to 'brownwash' colonialism

JVP also argued that Israel has erased the "essential role" that Muslims played in the festival, calling it a "North African celebration of the end of Passover by Jews and Muslims."

 Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu celebrates the Mimouna holiday in Or Akiva. (photo credit: YONATAN URICH)
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu celebrates the Mimouna holiday in Or Akiva.
(photo credit: YONATAN URICH)

The State of Israel co-opted the Maghrebi Jewish post-Passover celebration Mimouna to use it to distract from colonialism and occupation, the anti-Zionist NGO Jewish Voice for Peace claimed on Saturday.

“European Jewish Zionists, especially Israeli state officials, have also co-opted Mimouna to serve their own goals,” wrote JVP’s Black Jews, Indigenous Jews, Non-Black Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews Network. “Zionists and the State of Israel have also used Mimouna celebrations to ‘brownwash’ colonialism and occupation.

“They have often justified theft of Palestinian land and destruction of Palestinian life by appropriating ‘indigenous’ Middle Eastern and North African culture, and by claiming to have ‘rescued’ Jews from this region – despite their decades of systemic oppression and discrimination against us,” the organization continued.

JVP also argued that Israel has erased the “essential role” that Muslims played in the festival, calling it a “North African celebration of the end of Passover by Jews and Muslims.”

“It’s much easier for an anti-Zionist to convince themself that JVP’s lies (the latest being that Mimouna is Muslim among other falsehoods) are somehow representative of the Jewish community rather than challenge the echo chamber one exists in [sic],” wrote Twitter user Eli Kohn.

The NGO also asserted that despite the widespread celebration of the festival “as a distinctively North African celebration developed by Jews in community with Muslims, Mimouna was and is the target of racist and Orientalist contempt by European Jews. For the past several decades, Mimouna has been both marginalized and tokenized in Israeli society, mirroring Israel’s treatment of North African Jews and Mizrahim in general.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the Mimouna celebration at the home of MK Osnat Mark (credit: Courtesy)Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the Mimouna celebration at the home of MK Osnat Mark (credit: Courtesy)

JVP promised that it would be taking back the tradition from Zionism, as part of its commitment to building a Judaism beyond Zionism.

“The whole post is genuinely so deranged and incredibly ironic from JVP. The audacity of them to point fingers at anyone else about ‘coopting’ jewish practices,” wrote Kohn. “Antizionism continues to be the politics of inversion [sic].”

JVP complained, “Since Golda Meir, every Israeli prime minister has celebrated Mimouna, performing insincere care for North African Jews and promoting the illusion of intra-Jewish cohesion and equality.”

On Sunday, President Isaac Herzog hosted a Mimouna event at the President’s Residence, “held with the theme of Israel’s connections to North African Jewish heritage, Israeli unity and friendship between different parts of society.” Israeli NGOs working to “preserve Jewish heritage, promote social-communal change and encourage community activism” were said to be participating.

“First we had Mizrahi-washing. Now we have ‘brownwashing,’” wrote a Twitter user who goes by the handle “Jachnun Supremacist.” “What’s next on the racist terminology board to suggest MENA [Middle Eastern and North African] Jews have no agency and are just government tools?”

“Washing” is a commonly expressed conspiracy theory allegation used against Israel and Israeli society. It suggests that Israeli cultural practices are part of a plot to cover up state policies, rather than being genuine celebrations and endeavors. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists’ “washing” claims have included “greenwashing” regarding Israeli environmentalism, “sportswashing” for sports and “pinkwashing” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Etymologically, the terms play on the term “whitewashing” to conceal disturbing facts about something.

“Like pinkwashing, funwashing, and winewashing before it, JVP’s claim of brownwashing is simply the latest proof that for anti-Israel activists, anything that could positively reflect Israel’s diversity or rich culture is forbidden,” said Israeli analyst Eitan Fischberger.

Mimouna is celebrated on the night of Passover’s end, which includes the eating of hametz – cakes and moufleta, a Maghrebi Jewish pancake often eaten with honey, jams, nuts or dried fruits. Traditional practices are meant to evoke fortune and to recall the crossing of the Reed Sea.