The baby in the cradle

The connections between Superman and the Bible have been made. In fact it’s assumed that Superman is based on Moses as both of them were born at a time of crisis, sent away to a safer place and then fighting against enemies. A stretch but Moses did fight some Egyptians. Supergirl is Superman’s younger cousin but subsequent writers grew aware of this connection that she’d inevitably be Miriam. (As in sent to look after them.)

I suspect a celestial, if almost divine association between Kryptonians and angels (many of the angels’ names end in el) or Biblical figures is almost somewhat as unconscious as it’s intuitively logical. Both of them fly and come from outer space, though some feel compelled to compare him to Jesus (whose mother’s also named Miriam*). Funny enough at some point Supergirl was made into an angel and redeemed a young girl through fusion.

Said girl went onto do heroic things. (Even stranger still, Gail Simone considered turning another superheroine into a practising Christian but that didn’t go through.) But it seems the Hebrew influence on Superman is here to stay.

*It’s also oddly logical that both of them wear blue.

Black Jews

Bear in mind black Jews do exist. Not just in Ethiopia but also in Uganda, Niger and Cameroon wherever Jews and Jewish influences go. At least if you believe some people, there are Jews in Cameroon just as there are Lemba Jews of Zimbabwe. The latter whose ancestry was confirmed.

Let’s not forget that there were Jews in Africa before, most notably in Egypt and eventually elsewhere wherever their influences go. So much so that not only are some Berbers sympathetic to them but also others converted to Judaism. That and persistent traces of Jewish influences in naming.

Also among the Tuareg, some of them are believed to be of Jewish descent. So it seems the Jewish influence on some African communities is bound to occur should there’ve been a Jewish population that assimilated into the larger non-Jewish community and vice versa.

Two sides of the same coin : Jewish and Palestinian refugees : hearing

Two sides of the same coin : Jewish and Palestinian refugees : hearing

STATEMENT OF HOWARD M. SACHAR, PH.D., PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF HISTORY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

Mr. SACHAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I, too, would like to welcome my distinguished colleague Pro fessor Telhami, whom I remember as the charismatic teacher of my daughter at the Swarthmore College. She never had a better course on the Middle East.

The few minutes that are at my disposal really do not leave me enough time for more than a summary of a summary. For example, the statistics tell a rather mordant story. In 1948, there were, ac cording to U.N. statistics, 856,000 Jews living in the Middle East among Arab countries; and in North Africa among Berber or Mus lim countries. Today the total in all countries, Middle Eastern and Northern African, are 7,800 Jews. And the circumstances — hardly the details of their exodus — are sharply different.

I am going to start with the latter, the North African littoral, the so-called Maghreb. And if there is no time, perhaps in the question and discussion period, we may talk about the Jews of the Arab countries.

Libya had about 35,000 indigenous Jews, that is to say Jews who traced their antecedents to antiquity, and these people enjoyed rea sonable security under Berber sultans, under Ottoman rule, and

10

most recently under Italian rule. And that is even including under Mussolini’s rule, who protected them in peace and war.

But after World War II, the advent of Berber nationalism pro voked an eruption of anti-Jewish riots causing several hundred Jewish casualties. This violence was intensified during the Pal estine war, and as a result, Jewish and Zionist philanthropies ar ranged for direct sailings and repatriation from Benghazi to Haifa, although about half of the Libyan Jews later settled in Italy. By 1951, three-quarters of them were gone. Today not more than a dozen remain.

But in French North Africa lived the bulk of the half-million Jews of this North African littoral. In 1948, more than three-fifths of them lived in Morocco and Tunisia; about 285,000 in Morocco, and 105,000 in Tunisia. Most of them were indigenous Jews, de- scendents of converted Berbers. But there was a substantial minor ity of Sephardic Jews among them, especially in Tunisia; that is to say fugitives, 16th century fugitives from Spain. They were poor. They were desperately poor, and until modern times they lived as devious, that is to say, second-class citizens among the Muslim ma jority. They lived a degraded existence in wretched ghetto quar antines and primarily the bigger cities.

In Morocco, the establishment of the French protectorate in 1912 brought physical security and even some marginal economic im provement. Still, the circumstances of their existence during World War II when Tunisia devolved and Morocco devolved into essen tially Vichy administration, that was a very difficult period for them, but at least because of the Italian participation in the access control commission, their lives were spared. But they entered the postwar period pauperized and wards of the Joint Distribution Committee, which was the essential and largest international Jew ish philanthropy.

And then with the Palestine war of 1948, they were subjected to pogroms, massacres, violence, pillage, and the first wave of immi gration to Israel took place essentially between 1949 and 1954. Some 100,000 of the poorest and most insular Jews departed for their ancestral Holy Land.

The second wave of immigration was coterminous with the rise of Morocco to independence between 1954 and 1956. And for that independence, I must note marginally that they had to thank a Jewish premier, Pierre Mendes-France.

The nationalists in Morocco meant very well, and they assured the remaining Jews in their country full security and equality. And a lot of younger Jews sympathized with their independence move ment. Their government, by and large, kept their word to the Jew ish minority. One Jew was included in the cabinet of independent Morocco. Others participated in the other echelons of government, and specifically in the profession of journalism. In the Six-Day War, King Hassan of Morocco was emphatic in his protection of the Jewish minority.

But perhaps inevitably most Jews feared the loss of the French presence and the unpredictable consequences of an unstable and still impoverished Muslim majority, and most quietly left for Israel or France, and they were not restricted in their departure. Indeed,

11

in subsequent years, King Hassan has ensured correct, if unofficial, relations even with Israel until his death.

Whether in Israel or in France, this Jewish residue is problem atically questioned as or listed as refugees. I would leave the issue to perhaps international lawyers, but I don’t think that Israel has a substantial grievance against Morocco.

In Tunisia, coming under French rule in the 1880s, 70 percent of this little country’s 105,000 Jews lived in the capital of Tunis. By the 20th century, this modest community had achieved tolerable lower middle-class status as small businessmen and even func tionaries in the French administration which assured them full se curity and civil equality with the nation’s Berber majority.

Again, the Vichy interregnum of World War II stripped Jews of many of their economic freedoms and purged them from the admin istration. Between 1948 and 1953, some 18,000 of the poorest and most insular Jewish citizens of Morocco left for Israel, and the rise of Israel evoked no meaningful reactions among Tunisian Muslims, but the country’s independence did.

Again, President Habib Bourguiba and his nationalist Neo- Destour leadership gave every assurance of goodwill. They took Jews into the party caucuses and even into the government. But the new government shift to a tautism, state socialism and key ele ments of the economy all but liquidated the traditional sectors of the Jewish commerce, and accordingly the Jews departed with in creasing speed and under increasing duress with forbidden trans fers of capital abroad, distress sales of their homes and businesses, and economically they were in a state of functional impoverish ment. Today in Tunisia less than 1,000 Jews remain.

And lastly, in Algeria, with its substantial minority mixture of Jews, many of them from Sephardic ancestors, they have lived in that country since the 16th century. France was not only their pro tector when the France — when the French took over Algeria in 19th century, they were the patrie. They were the protector and the homeland of the Jews.

The Jews numbered about 135,000 on the eve of World War II, but if they represented only 1.4 percent of Algeria’s inhabitants, they were 14 percent of the country’s 950,000 European settlers. And even as the Europeans, since the beginning of the France’s oc cupation in 1830, were French citizens, so the Jews were citizens of France from 1869 onward.

Unlike their kinsmen in Morocco and Tunisia, they shared the rights of French nationality in every particular. With others of Al geria’s Europeans, they voted in French elections. They were solid in their middle-class status. Several thousand even held positions in the Franco-Algerian civil service and in the country’s profes sions.

If they suffered social isolation, it was at the hands of the colons of the Europeans. Europeans of Algeria were as prototypically xenophobic as any irredentist minority in Europe. They were obliged to be more Catholic than the Pope, and they were the most vitriolic anti-Semites during the Dreyfus Affair or during Leon Blum’s Popular Front government in the 1930s, and certainly dur ing the Vichy administration of World War II.

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It was indicative of the colons’ right-wing orientation that in 1942 virtually the only members of Algeria’s European population to play an active role in Operation Torch, the American landings of — in North Africa, were the Jewish underground. And even after ward, a year and a half passed before the French restored Jewish political rights in Algeria.

But the period of restored Jewish security endured barely a dec ade. By the mid-1950s Berber restovists had burgeoned into full- scale insurrection. Jewish reaction to the ensuing slaughter and counter slaughter of French and Algerians was confused. Many Jews sympathized with the FLM, the nationalist movement of the Berber population, and that movement, by the way, promised the Jews fuel security and equality in an independent Algerian State.

On the other hand, the insurgency was fueled and equipped by Nasser’s Egypt, and the prospect of being governed by a regime be holden to one of Israel’s most implacable enemies was unsettling.

Moreover, in 1960, the Berber’s xenophobia unexpectedly burst out against the Jews. There were widespread anti-Jewish riots. They culminated in the pillaging of the Great Synagogue of Alge ria, and to the Jewish majority, this was a prefiguration of their possible life in a Muslim ocean. They would not chance it. Nor would Algeria’s European community at large risk its future to a Berber government, especially when President de Gaulle in 1962 signaled his willingness to countenance full Algerian independence and pull the French Army out of Algeria. And indeed by early 1963, the totality of European settlers, 950,000 of them, embarked on a vast collective exodus to France, leaving behind their homes, farms, estates, businesses, and public institutions.

The 135,000 Jews of Algeria, with the exception of a tiny minor ity of 5,000, joined this departure to France, which had promised them full social welfare benefits, housing, education, employment. And they reached the decision thus to share in the collective Euro pean transmigration, and they settled in France.

Now, gentlemen and ladies, by contrast, the fate of the 315,000 Jews in the Arab countries of the Middle East, of Yemen, Iraq, Aden, Syria, Egypt, well, that evinces none of the political or eco nomic uncertainties characteristic of the North African littoral. On the contrary, that fate was as decisive and unambiguous as a guil lotine. Without exception, the Jewish populations of these lands were politically quarantined, economically decimated and eventu ally driven en masse from their family homes with the clothing on their backs and virtually nothing else.

This is a phenomenon well known, I think, to members of the committee. I am not going to dwell on it until perhaps the question period, and I — I will leave the testimony to my colleague.

Mr. ACKeRMan. Thank you very much.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Sachar follows:]

NORTH AFRICA

Libya

The trauma of Jewish departure from the Islamic world was not limited to the Middle East. Across the Maghreb, the exodus was played out on a wider scale, if only because the Jewish presence among North Africa’s Berber populations was de- mographically more extensive than among Arabs and Egyptians. Among this vast scattering of some half-million Jews (in l945), even the modest Jewish enclave in Libya was not spared. Libyan Jewry was an indigenous community, extending back to native tribes that had been proselytized by Jewish traders and refugees in Carthaginian times. While in no sense a prosperous or a vibrant minority, the Jews of Libya had enjoyed reasonable security under Berber, Ottoman, and (since l9ll) Italian rule, even under Mussolini, who showed them favored treatment in peace time, and protected them from the Germans in wartime. Numbering 32,000 by l945, most earned their livelihoods as merchants and artisans in the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi; but a fourth of them lived a rather atavistic, semi-tribal existence in the desert interior.

In l945, too — ironically, under British occupation — an eruption of anti- Jewish riots left several hundred Jews dead and wounded and destroyed over a thousand Jewish homes and shops. The outburst was linked to the emergent Libyan nationalist movement; and the emergent Palestine issue simply exacerbated the unrest. In June l948, a renewal of violence inflicted additional Jewish casualties. By then, few Liby an Jews believed that it was possible to remain on in the country. Fortunately for them, in l949 the Jewish Agency and the (Jewish) Joint Distribution Committee suc ceeded in organizing direct sailings from Benghazi to Haifa, or, alternately, to Brindizi and Naples. By the summer of l95l, virtually the entire Libyan Jewish pop ulation had jettisoned their businesses and homes and embarked for more assured security abroad. Whether their principal destinations were Israel or Italy, they were archetypical refugees, arriving in their new homelands in a state of near-destitution.

Morocco and Tunisia

Yet the bulk of North Africa’s half-million Jews had devolved over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries into the ambit of French rule. As late as l948, fully 285,000 of them were concentrated in Morocco. Algeria accounted for another 135,000, and Tunisia for an estimated l05,0000. As in Libya, approximately two-thirds of this population traced their ancestry to Berber tribesmen who had been converted to Ju daism nearly a millinium before, and whose vernacular, Judeo-Berber, subsequently remained distinct from that of their Moslem neighbors. A smaller number were Sephardim, descendants of Iberian Jews, and some of these maintained their own Ladino dialect.

Among this teeming littoral Jewry, the Moroccans were by far the most deprived, economically and culturally. Over the centuries, among the local sultans, they were reduced to near-pariah degradation, they lived in wretched ghettos that frequently were swept by epidemics and native mobs. Functioning by tradition with a millet — quasi-autonomous — governing hierarchy of their own, they were permitted to adju dicate their personal and communal affairs before their own rabbinical courts. The establishment of the French protectorate in l9l2 assured them of more extensive physical security and even a measurable degree of economic improvement. But as late as l948, perhaps half the Moroccan Jewish working population survived as ped dlers and artisans, the rest as small shopkeepers, clerks, or manual laborers. Except for a handful of affluent merchant and professional families, urbn Jews by and large continued to live in their own neighborhoods, still on the alert to occasional out bursts of Moslem violence.

On the other hand, the extensive concentration of Jews in Marrakech, Casa blanca, and Fez provided Moroccan Jews with certain educational advantages. Their children had acces to Alliance Israelite schools, which successive French administra tions discreetly supported as effective disseminators of France’s mission civilizatrice. Although the majority still received a more parochial Jewish education, the beacon of French culture shone before they eyes, too. They understood well that it was the

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protection of France that enabled them to maintain their religious and communal traditions in relative peace. Manifestly, that protection broke down in World War II, when France’s North African Empire was reserved for the administration of the collaborationist Vichy regime. Moroccan Jews lost their access to the local French economy, and even their business and professional licenses to minister to a substan tial part of the native market; and of course Jews were purged from employment in government offices. The Vichy interregnum clearly represented a painful setback, but at least it was a brief one. It was the economic hardships of the postwar period that endured substantially longer. Even well into the early l950s, the Joint Distribu tion Committee was obliged to provide relief for tens of thousands of Moroccan Jews.

Yet the principal threat to Moroccan Jewry emerged from two major political changes. The first was the establishment of Israel and the Palestine war of l948, which unleashed Moslem pogroms. Crowds of Berber lumpenproletariat invaded the Jewish sector of Oujda in June l948, massacring scores of inhabitants, wounding many hundreds of others, and pillaging shops and homes. It was this assault that touched off a wave of emigration, mainly by the poorest and most devout sectors of the Jewish community, those who had least to lose by departure. By l954, ap proximately 100,000 of these people had left, two-thirds of them for Israel, the rest for France.

The second political development was the emergence of a fiery indigenous Moroc can nationalism. By the early l950s, a mounting series of riots and demonstrations against the French protectorate brought the country to brink of revolution; and in l954 France’s Prime Minister Pierre Mendes-France committed his government to Moroccan independence within two years. The prospect of Berber rule deeply unset tled Morocco’s remaining Jewish population. It was at this point that the World Jewish Congress succeeded in establishing contact with Morocco’s Istiqlal — nation alist leadership. Eager for Jewish support abroad, the Istiqlal spokesmen guaran teed their Jewish “brothers” full constitutional rights and political security in a free Morocco. If the Jews, however, did not wish to stay, they would have the right to emigrate to Israel or France.

Indeed, upon achieving independence in l956, the new Moroccan regime honored its promise. Proclaiming complete equality for all inhabitatns, the government in cluded a Jew in its first cabinet, and continued to protect Jewish interests. It was economic, not political, failure that determine the Jews’ course. With the loss of French capital and industry, the nation was reduced to near-bankruptcy. The likeli hood of economic collapse was particularly frightening to those Jews who had re mained on after the first wave of departures, most of them now middle-level or small businessmen, those who were more thoroughly attuned to French culture. Now, during the first ten months of Moroccan independence, another 33,000 Jews left the country, this time almost exclusively for France.

For its part, the Moroccan government continued to assure full security to its re maining Jewish citizens, and to recruit additional Jews into the government. In l967, during the Six-Day War, King Hassan ordered the arrest of anyone engaged into anti- Jewish violence or even anti- Jewish propaganda. Yet emigration quietly continued through the l960s and l970s, and the government mad e no serious effort to restrict. By the end of the century, the Moroccan Jewish population had atrophied from its pre-World War II plateau of 285,000 to less than l0,000.

TUNISIA

the second of France’s Maghreb protectorates, was a kind of North African Uru guay or Switzerland, enjoying a long Mediterranean coastline and a temperate cli mate. Of its 3,500,000 inhabitants by the end of the war, some l05,000 were Jews, and fully 70 percent of these lived in Tunis. They were by no means a backward or impoverished community. Nearly half of them earned their tolerable livelihoods as craftsmen, as small shopkeepers, or as functionaries in the French administra tion.

Indeed, under the French protectorate, the Jews enjoyed almost total physical se curity and civil equality on a par with the nation’s Moslem subjects. As in Morocco, France’s puppet sultanate respected the autonomy of its Jewish minority and even contributed financially to Jewish communal institutions. Here, too, the wartime Vichy administration represented a setback in Jewish legal rights, but the Italian Control Commission in Tunisia protected the Jews’ physical security, and their basic economic freedom of action. After the war, and between l948 and l953, some l8,000 Tunisian Jews emigrated to Israel; yet these were essentially poor and backward Jews from the bled, the tribal interior. Few urban Jews were interested in joining them.

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In the following years, however, tensions mounted between the Tunisian Neo- Destour nationalists and the French administration. The sequence of bombings and retaliations increased in scope and ferocity. The Jews were deeply unsettled. They maintained equable relations with both the French government and their Moslem neighbors; yet their businesses were hard hit by the months of strikes, violence, and mass arrests. Privately, the nationalist leaders Had assured their Jewish contacts that an independent Tunisia would guarantee equality for all citizens. Habib Bourguiba, leader of the Neo-Destour Party, endorsed this commitment personally. Most Jews were prepared to accept it. Indeed, many Jews supported the Neo- Destour in its struggle for self-rule. In l956, when France finally granted Tunisia its independence, Jews jointed Moslems in the street celebrations.

Indeed, Jewish security was unaffected at first. Most of the civil service remained French, and, by treaty, French troops stayed on the cruical ports and military bases of the country. Public order was maintained. Several Jews held prominent positions in the Tunisian cabinet and publi administration. Jews were among Prime Minister (later President) Bourguiba’s closest friends and associates. In every respect, they enjoyed identical civil and political rights with Moslems, and the government contin ued partially to subsidize Jewish communal activities.

Even so, Jews were concerned for their economic stability under a Moslem regime. In l955, on the eve of independence, the nation’s Jewish population still totaled ap proximately 90,000. By l963, it had fallen to 60,000. As in Morocco, poorer and more devout Jews had left earlier for Israel. The largest numbers of those departing now settled in France. Although a majority of this shrinking remnant still remained in Tunisia, their ambivalence was abruptly resolved by a shattering military confronta tion between Tunisians and the French. Early in l962, responding to nationalist pressures, Bourguiba decided to reclaim the port and arsenal of Bizerte, facilities that had been reserved to France by earlier treaty agreement. When he ordered his

troops into the protected area, however, they were annihilated by French military gunfire. An orgy of strikes and rioting then followed, and soon the nation’s economy was all but paralyzed.

For the Jews, caught in this chauvinist upheaval, it was not the time to risk fur ther delay. Within the following year, their remaining poopulation was halved. Afterward, a steady, if slower, exodus continued. It was influenced both by the gov ernment’s increasingly militant pro-Arab stance on the Israel issue and by its shift toward domestic socialism. The cabinet had already declared a state monopoly in sugar, coffee, tea, fruits, grain, hides and cattle. Thousands of Jewish businessmen accordingly witnessed the elimination of their occupations. It was only a question of time, most believed, before they were liquidated altogether as a commercial ele ment. Departure now inevitably would mean the abandonment of homes and busi nesses — the transfer of capital abroad had recently been disallowed — but younger Jews were unwilling to procrastinate. With or without resources, they made for the harbors and embarked for France. Later, they sent for their parents. By l965, some 80,000 Jews were living in France, and less than 8,000 remained behind. Today, their remaining population is estimated at less than 2,000.

Algeria

For the Jews of Algeria, France was not simply the protector. It was la patrie. They numbered 135,000 at war’s end, a community less than half the size of Moroc can Jewry. Yet if they represented a mere l.4 percent of Algeria’s inhabitants, they comprised nearly l4 percent of the country’s 950,000 European settlers. Unlike their fellow Jews in the Maghreb, Algerian Jews were substantially of Sephardic origin, tracing their roots back to Spain. Reduced to dhimmi status under Moslem rule in the ensuing centuries, they were also the first North African Jews to enjoy the blessings of French rule, in 1830. Indeed, forty years later, Paris extended French citizenship to Algerian Jewry (as it had at the outset to the country’s other Euro pean inhabitants). Henceforth, unlike their kinsmen in Tunisia and Morocco, Alge rian Jews shared all the rights and privileges of Frenchmen. Living mkainly in Al giers, Oran, and Constantine, they were a predominantly commercial element, al though of a somewhat more advanced status than in Tunisia and Mkorocco. Several thousand of them also held positions in the civil service and in the professions.

At the same time, well into the twentieth century, even the best-educated and most gallicized Algerian Jews were not quite accepted by their European fellow citi zens. If they attended French schools, moved freely in commercial and professional life, they still found themselves in a social ghetto — a European social ghetto. More over, Algerian Jewry suffered even more acutely from the Dreyfus Affair than had the Jews of France; for the colons of Algeria were as prototypically xenophobic as any irredentist minority in Europe. Indeed, the settlers’ right-wing virulence contin ued on into the l930s, when hatred of Leon Blum’s Popular Front government erupt

17

rested hundreds of Jews, including the aged rabbis of Cairo and Alexandria, and in terned them in concentration camps. Three years passed before the prisoners were released. Most of them eventually succeeded in departing Egypt by paying out all they owned in bribes. The three of four hundred sick or aged Jews who remained lived essentially on funds transmitted by international Jewish charities. Of these, barely two hundred survived to extend tearful greetings to Menachem Begin in Cai ro’s Sharei Shamayim Synagogue, during the Israeli prime minister’s visit of April l979, a month after the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

NORTH AFRICA

Libya

The trauma of Jewish departure from the Islamic world was not limited to the Middle East. Across the Maghreb, the exodus was played out on a wider scale, if only because the Jewish presence among North Africa’s Berber populations was de- mographically more extensive than among Arabs and Egyptians. Among this vast scattering of some half-million Jews (in l945), even the modest Jewish enclave in Libya was not spared. Libyan Jewry was an indigenous community, extending back to native tribes that had been proselytized by Jewish traders and refugees in Carthaginian times. While in no sense a prosperous or a vibrant minority, the Jews of Libya had enjoyed reasonable security under Berber, Ottoman, and (since l9ll) Italian rule, even under Mussolini, who showed them favored treatment in peace time, and protected them from the Germans in wartime. Numbering 32,000 by l945, most earned their livelihoods as merchants and artisans in the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi; but a fourth of them lived a rather atavistic, semi-tribal existence in the desert interior.

In l945, too — ironically, under British occupation — an eruption of anti- Jewish riots left several hundred Jews dead and wounded and destroyed over a thousand Jewish homes and shops. The outburst was linked to the emergent Libyan nationalist movement; and the emergent Palestine issue simply exacerbated the unrest. In June l948, a renewal of violence inflicted additional Jewish casualties. By then, few Liby an Jews believed that it was possible to remain on in the country. Fortunately for them, in l949 the Jewish Agency and the (Jewish) Joint Distribution Committee suc ceeded in organizing direct sailings from Benghazi to Haifa, or, alternately, to Brindizi and Naples. By the summer of l95l, virtually the entire Libyan Jewish pop ulation had jettisoned their businesses and homes and embarked for more assured security abroad. Whether their principal destinations were Israel or Italy, they were archetypical refugees, arriving in their new homelands in a state of near-destitution.

Morocco and Tunisia

Yet the bulk of North Africa’s half-million Jews had devolved over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries into the ambit of French rule. As late as l948, fully 285,000 of them were concentrated in Morocco. Algeria accounted for another 135,000, and Tunisia for an estimated l05,0000. As in Libya, approximately two-thirds of this population traced their ancestry to Berber tribesmen who had been converted to Ju daism nearly a millinium before, and whose vernacular, Judeo-Berber, subsequently remained distinct from that of their Moslem neighbors. A smaller number were Sephardim, descendants of Iberian Jews, and some of these maintained their own Ladino dialect.

Among this teeming littoral Jewry, the Moroccans were by far the most deprived, economically and culturally. Over the centuries, among the local sultans, they were reduced to near-pariah degradation, they lived in wretched ghettos that frequently were swept by epidemics and native mobs. Functioning by tradition with a millet — quasi-autonomous — governing hierarchy of their own, they were permitted to adju dicate their personal and communal affairs before their own rabbinical courts. The establishment of the French protectorate in l9l2 assured them of more extensive physical security and even a measurable degree of economic improvement. But as late as l948, perhaps half the Moroccan Jewish working population survived as ped dlers and artisans, the rest as small shopkeepers, clerks, or manual laborers. Except for a handful of affluent merchant and professional families, urbn Jews by and large continued to live in their own neighborhoods, still on the alert to occasional out bursts of Moslem violence.

On the other hand, the extensive concentration of Jews in Marrakech, Casa blanca, and Fez provided Moroccan Jews with certain educational advantages. Their children had acces to Alliance Israelite schools, which successive French administra tions discreetly supported as effective disseminators of France’s mission civilizatrice. Although the majority still received a more parochial Jewish education, the beacon of French culture shone before they eyes, too. They understood well that it was the

18

protection of France that enabled them to maintain their religious and communal traditions in relative peace. Manifestly, that protection broke down in World War II, when France’s North African Empire was reserved for the administration of the collaborationist Vichy regime. Moroccan Jews lost their access to the local French economy, and even their business and professional licenses to minister to a substan tial part of the native market; and of course Jews were purged from employment in government offices. The Vichy interregnum clearly represented a painful setback, but at least it was a brief one. It was the economic hardships of the postwar period that endured substantially longer. Even well into the early l950s, the Joint Distribu tion Committee was obliged to provide relief for tens of thousands of Moroccan Jews.

Yet the principal threat to Moroccan Jewry emerged from two major political changes. The first was the establishment of Israel and the Palestine war of l948, which unleashed Moslem pogroms. Crowds of Berber lumpenproletariat invaded the Jewish sector of Oujda in June l948, massacring scores of inhabitants, wounding many hundreds of others, and pillaging shops and homes. It was this assault that touched off a wave of emigration, mainly by the poorest and most devout sectors of the Jewish community, those who had least to lose by departure. By l954, ap proximately 100,000 of these people had left, two-thirds of them for Israel, the rest for France.

The second political development was the emergence of a fiery indigenous Moroc can nationalism. By the early l950s, a mounting series of riots and demonstrations against the French protectorate brought the country to brink of revolution; and in l954 France’s Prime Minister Pierre Mendes-France committed his government to Moroccan independence within two years. The prospect of Berber rule deeply unset tled Morocco’s remaining Jewish population. It was at this point that the World Jewish Congress succeeded in establishing contact with Morocco’s Istiqlal — nation alist leadership. Eager for Jewish support abroad, the Istiqlal spokesmen guaran teed their Jewish “brothers” full constitutional rights and political security in a free Morocco. If the Jews, however, did not wish to stay, they would have the right to emigrate to Israel or France.

Indeed, upon achieving independence in l956, the new Moroccan regime honored its promise. Proclaiming complete equality for all inhabitatns, the government in cluded a Jew in its first cabinet, and continued to protect Jewish interests. It was economic, not political, failure that determine the Jews’ course. With the loss of French capital and industry, the nation was reduced to near-bankruptcy. The likeli hood of economic collapse was particularly frightening to those Jews who had re mained on after the first wave of departures, most of them now middle-level or small businessmen, those who were more thoroughly attuned to French culture. Now, during the first ten months of Moroccan independence, another 33,000 Jews left the country, this time almost exclusively for France.

For its part, the Moroccan government continued to assure full security to its re maining Jewish citizens, and to recruit additional Jews into the government. In l967, during the Six-Day War, King Hassan ordered the arrest of anyone engaged into anti- Jewish violence or even anti- Jewish propaganda. Yet emigration quietly continued through the l960s and l970s, and the government mad e no serious effort to restrict. By the end of the century, the Moroccan Jewish population had atrophied from its pre-World War II plateau of 285,000 to less than l0,000.

TUNISIA

the second of France’s Maghreb protectorates, was a kind of North African Uru guay or Switzerland, enjoying a long Mediterranean coastline and a temperate cli mate. Of its 3,500,000 inhabitants by the end of the war, some l05,000 were Jews, and fully 70 percent of these lived in Tunis. They were by no means a backward or impoverished community. Nearly half of them earned their tolerable livelihoods as craftsmen, as small shopkeepers, or as functionaries in the French administra tion.

Indeed, under the French protectorate, the Jews enjoyed almost total physical se curity and civil equality on a par with the nation’s Moslem subjects. As in Morocco, France’s puppet sultanate respected the autonomy of its Jewish minority and even contributed financially to Jewish communal institutions. Here, too, the wartime Vichy administration represented a setback in Jewish legal rights, but the Italian Control Commission in Tunisia protected the Jews’ physical security, and their basic economic freedom of action. After the war, and between l948 and l953, some l8,000 Tunisian Jews emigrated to Israel; yet these were essentially poor and backward Jews from the bled, the tribal interior. Few urban Jews were interested in joining them.

19

In the following years, however, tensions mounted between the Tunisian Neo- Destour nationalists and the French administration. The sequence of bombings and retaliations increased in scope and ferocity. The Jews were deeply unsettled. They maintained equable relations with both the French government and their Moslem neighbors; yet their businesses were hard hit by the months of strikes, violence, and mass arrests. Privately, the nationalist leaders Had assured their Jewish contacts that an independent Tunisia would guarantee equality for all citizens. Habib Bourguiba, leader of the Neo-Destour Party, endorsed this commitment personally. Most Jews were prepared to accept it. Indeed, many Jews supported the Neo- Destour in its struggle for self-rule. In l956, when France finally granted Tunisia its independence, Jews jointed Moslems in the street celebrations.

Indeed, Jewish security was unaffected at first. Most of the civil service remained French, and, by treaty, French troops stayed on the cruical ports and military bases of the country. Public order was maintained. Several Jews held prominent positions in the Tunisian cabinet and publi administration. Jews were among Prime Minister (later President) Bourguiba’s closest friends and associates. In every respect, they enjoyed identical civil and political rights with Moslems, and the government contin ued partially to subsidize Jewish communal activities.

Even so, Jews were concerned for their economic stability under a Moslem regime. In l955, on the eve of independence, the nation’s Jewish population still totaled ap proximately 90,000. By l963, it had fallen to 60,000. As in Morocco, poorer and more devout Jews had left earlier for Israel. The largest numbers of those departing now settled in France. Although a majority of this shrinking remnant still remained in Tunisia, their ambivalence was abruptly resolved by a shattering military confronta tion between Tunisians and the French. Early in l962, responding to nationalist pressures, Bourguiba decided to reclaim the port and arsenal of Bizerte, facilities that had been reserved to France by earlier treaty agreement. When he ordered his

troops into the protected area, however, they were annihilated by French military gunfire. An orgy of strikes and rioting then followed, and soon the nation’s economy was all but paralyzed.

For the Jews, caught in this chauvinist upheaval, it was not the time to risk fur ther delay. Within the following year, their remaining poopulation was halved. Afterward, a steady, if slower, exodus continued. It was influenced both by the gov ernment’s increasingly militant pro-Arab stance on the Israel issue and by its shift toward domestic socialism. The cabinet had already declared a state monopoly in sugar, coffee, tea, fruits, grain, hides and cattle. Thousands of Jewish businessmen accordingly witnessed the elimination of their occupations. It was only a question of time, most believed, before they were liquidated altogether as a commercial ele ment. Departure now inevitably would mean the abandonment of homes and busi nesses — the transfer of capital abroad had recently been disallowed — but younger Jews were unwilling to procrastinate. With or without resources, they made for the harbors and embarked for France. Later, they sent for their parents. By l965, some 80,000 Jews were living in France, and less than 8,000 remained behind. Today, their remaining population is estimated at less than 2,000.

Algeria

For the Jews of Algeria, France was not simply the protector. It was la patrie. They numbered 135,000 at war’s end, a community less than half the size of Moroc can Jewry. Yet if they represented a mere l.4 percent of Algeria’s inhabitants, they comprised nearly l4 percent of the country’s 950,000 European settlers. Unlike their fellow Jews in the Maghreb, Algerian Jews were substantially of Sephardic origin, tracing their roots back to Spain. Reduced to dhimmi status under Moslem rule in the ensuing centuries, they were also the first North African Jews to enjoy the blessings of French rule, in 1830. Indeed, forty years later, Paris extended French citizenship to Algerian Jewry (as it had at the outset to the country’s other Euro pean inhabitants). Henceforth, unlike their kinsmen in Tunisia and Morocco, Alge rian Jews shared all the rights and privileges of Frenchmen. Living mkainly in Al giers, Oran, and Constantine, they were a predominantly commercial element, al though of a somewhat more advanced status than in Tunisia and Mkorocco. Several thousand of them also held positions in the civil service and in the professions.

At the same time, well into the twentieth century, even the best-educated and most gallicized Algerian Jews were not quite accepted by their European fellow citi zens. If they attended French schools, moved freely in commercial and professional life, they still found themselves in a social ghetto — a European social ghetto. More over, Algerian Jewry suffered even more acutely from the Dreyfus Affair than had the Jews of France; for the colons of Algeria were as prototypically xenophobic as any irredentist minority in Europe. Indeed, the settlers’ right-wing virulence contin ued on into the l930s, when hatred of Leon Blum’s Popular Front government erupt

20

ed into riots, the vandalization of synagogues and Jewish shops in Algiers, the mur der of a score of Jews in Constantine. The facts bear repeating: it was not the Alge rian Berbers who launched this violence. Their relations with the Jews were indif ferent at worst, equable at best.

As in other countries in the French Maghreb, the circumstances of Algerian Jewry became authentically precarious only after the surrender of France in June l940. With the French Empire reserved by Nazi dispensation to the new Vichy regime, Algerian Jews were immediately drummed out of the French army. The entire Jew ish population of Algeria was stripped of its French citizenship. Jewish functionaries were purged from the Algerian administration, their children expelled from French schools. Jewish businessmen and professionals were barred from Algeria’s European economy. The ordeal lasted two and a half years, until November l942, when Amer ican troops liberated French North Africa. It was indicative of the colons’ pro-Vichy sympathies, however, that virtually the only local inhabitants to coooperate in the Allied liberation were Jews. Even after the Allied landings, a year passed before Jewish political rights were restored in French Algeria, and then mainly as a result of intense pressure from American Jewish organizations.

For Algerian Jewry, the period of restored “normalcy” and security endured barely a decade. By the mid-l950s, Berber resentment of French rule had burgeoned into a full-scale insurrection. The Jewish reaction to the ensuing slaughter and counterslaughter was confused. Younger Jews, most of the Socialists, sympathized with the FLN — Berber nationalist — demands for self-determination. After all, not a single major act of Berber terrorism thus far had been committed against Jews. In deed, the nationalist leadership repeatedly assured the Jewish community of its safety and equality in a future Algerian state. On the other hand, it was known that much of the FLN’s military equipment was coming from Egypt’s President Nasser, and the prospect of being governed by a regime beholden to one of Israel’s most im placable enemies was unsettling. As a result, the majority of Algleria’s Jews re mained in the background, publicly neutral, privately still hoping for a last-minute reprieve from a French departure.

The reprieved was not to be realized. Once Charles de Gaulle consolidated his presidential power in France, in l959, he made clear his intention to phase out the colons’ privileged status in Algeria. Worse yet, during the ensuring transitional pe riod of French withdrawal, Berber xenophobia unexpectedly burst out against the Jews. In the last week of l960, widespread anti-Jewish riots culminated in the pil laging of the Great Synagogue of Algiers. Although the violence was immediately repudiated by the FLN leadership, the Jewish community was deeply unnerved. Nor was it reassured by the French government’s decision in July l962 to withdraw its army and to accord full sovereignty to Algeria by the end of the year. It was then that the totality of the European settlement — 950,000 colons — embarked on a vast collective exodus to France. Their homes, farms, estates, businesses, and public in stitutions — the legacy of more than a century and a quarter of French rule — all were left behind. The l35,000 Jews of Algeria shared in the departure. With the exception of 5,000 among them, who migrated to Israel, they shared too in the collective Euro pean transmigration and resettlement in France.

Mr. Ackerman. And the reference you just made, the Jewish community, the refugees of the Arab world, is of great concern to the committee, and we would like to hear more about that, and we will develop that during the question period.

Thank you.

Dr. Telhami.

 

The Berber Identity Movement and the Challenge to North African States (Excerpt)

To be sure, modern-day scholars tend to be skeptical regarding the depth
and breadth of Jewish-Berber relationships in pre-Islamic and early Islamic
times.46 What is known is that Jewish communities existed in North Africa
at least since the period of the Second Temple (destroyed in AD 70), and
perhaps even earlier. (For example, tradition has it that a group of Temple
priests [kohanim] brought a door and a stone from the destroyed First Temple
[586 BC] and used them to establish the El Ghirba synagogue on the island
of Jerba, in Tunisia. There is a similar tradition regarding the arrival of
Jews in southern Morocco.) Even earlier, the ancient city of Carthage was
founded in 813 BC by Phoenician seamen and traders who plied the North
African coasts, and who may have included Hebrews. In any case, the Punic
language was deeply rooted in the region well into the first centuries of the
Christian era. This “Phoenician connection” to North Africa undoubtedly
contributed to the popular belief of the Berbers’ Semitic origins, making
the Berbers cousins of the Jews (and Arabs) by virtue of race and language.
Modern Amazigh activists also point to the story of the Kahina, the fabled
Berber and possibly Jewish queen who led the resistance to the initial Arab
conquest of Tamazgha, to “prove” their Jewish origins.
For the historian, the important point in this context is that collective
and individual identities alike have always possessed a measure of fluidity,
both in ancient and more modern times, even those that are commonly
considered primordial. Indeed, religious belief and praxis in North Africa
during the late Roman and early Christian eras were highly syncretist,
often combining elements of Judaism, paganism, and Christianity. Jewish
and Christian proselytization was common.
Among North Africa’s resident Jews (toshavim; those who pre-dated
the mass exodus from Spain and Portugal during the Reconquista), many
lived amongst, and in proximity to, Berber communities, particularly in
Morocco, up until the time of independence.47 Did this mean that they
were mainly Berbers who had converted to Judaism and had avoided
Islamization, or were they primarily Jews who had originated elsewhere
and become acculturated to the Berber milieu? The matter has been the
subject of considerable discussion, but the answer cannot be definitively
ascertained. Most likely, it is somewhere in-between. In any case, according to a 1936 census, three-quarters of Morocco’s 161,000 Jews were bi-
148 Reentering History in the New Millennium
lingual in Berber and Arabic, and another 25,000 were exclusively Berber
speakers.48 As merchants, traders, and small artisans in the Atlas mountain
villages, Jews often played an intermediary role between Arabs and Berbers, and between different Berber tribal groupings. As is true regarding
overall Jewish-Muslim relations in North Africa, relations between Jews
and Berbers are sometimes presented in overly idealized terms.
In earlier decades, Amazigh movement circles were extremely reticent
to mention anything to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict or the belief in
their Jewish roots. But in recent years, they have begun to be more open
and blunt. A common complaint of theirs is that their governments spend
an inordinate amount of energy on behalf of the Palestinian cause, at the
expense of the real needs of their societies. One writer even suggested,
presumably sarcastically, that Palestinian refugees could be resettled in the
Saharan expanses.49 In conversations with Israelis, Amazigh activists invariably inquire after the state of the Berber language in Israel, brought
by Jews who had immigrated from Berberophone areas in Morocco, and
are extremely disappointed to learn that it is not being passed down to
subsequent generations. In Goulmima, a southeastern Moroccan Berber
town formerly inhabited by Jews as well, an annual masquerade ritual has
been transformed among the youth into an expression of Amazigh activism and militancy, including a rejection of Islamist discourse and identification with Judaeo-Berber culture and even Israel. The expressions of
philo-Hebraism among the town’s youth were so disturbing to some that
the local Islamic imam issued a fatwa forbidding them, albeit to no avail.50
More generally, the annual gathering draws many former Goulmima Muslims now living abroad, as well as Kabyle activists.51
This last example, an overt demonstration of contrariness, must be considered an isolated matter. For Arab nationalists and Islamists, though, it
no doubt confirms the pernicious nature of the modern Berber identity
movement. Inevitably, any sympathy expressed toward Jews and Zionism
is seen as part of a new plot to divide and conquer Muslim lands. Indeed,
in recent years, the entry of competing Amazigh and Islamist discourses
into the public sphere, an outgrowth of the newly liberalizing policies of
North African states seeking to better manage and relegitimize their rule,
has produced a number of confrontations between the Amazigh movement and its Arab nationalist and Islamist opponents. Most, although not
all, have remained in the verbal realm.
In the summer of 2007, a group of thirty-plus young Moroccan Amazigh, mainly from the Souss region, announced the establishment of an
Amazigh-Jewish Friendship Association. Their platform, covering the
Berber Identity and the International Arena 149
promotion of cultural, political, and socioeconomic objectives, focused
on three pillars: Amazigh, Judaeo-Amazigh, and Israel.52 In essence, the
“Judaeo-Amazigh” factor was serving as a bridge between the Amazigh
movement and the State of Israel.
The news of the association’s creation occasioned a heated debate on
Iran’s Arabic-language satellite television channel, al-Alam, between an
Algerian writer, Yahya Abu Zakariya, and Ahmed Adghirni. Their sharp
exchanges regarding the history and collective identity of North Africa
presented starkly opposing views. Abu Zakariya emphasized the 1,400
years of Islam in North Africa, which decisively shaped its history and culture, including the Amazigh, who “were the epitome of steadfastness, resistance, and confrontation” against all colonialist attacks, while also doing
“a great service to Islamic civilization . . . contributing to it to the greatest
degree.” Jews, on the other hand, he claimed, were utterly foreign to the
region, only arriving from Andalusia following the Reconquista. Moreover, they “were the eyes of the French colonialist movement . . . : when
the French army came to the Arab Maghreb, it was the Jews who led them
to the mujahideen,” and when the French left, the Jews quite naturally went
with them. As for Moroccan Jews, and Jews in general, “I say that [they]
have no conscience. They did not respect the sanctity of neighborly relations. The Muslims provided them with safety and protection. . . . When
they joined the security services in Israel . . . did they remember the kindness the Moroccans showed them, or were they part of the conspiracy
against the Arabs?”
In Adghirni’s view, this type of talk was nothing less than anti-Semitism.
“If only the Arabs had believed in friendship with the Jews all these years,
we would not be seeing rivers of blood flowing, among the Arabs themselves, and between the Arabs and the Jews. The Amazigh have nearly 3,000
years of history behind us, throughout which the Jews lived together with
us.” Arab identity, on the other hand, “is specific to the Arabian Peninsula
and to the countries concerned with this, but not to the Amazigh or the
non-Arab residents of North Africa.” As for the new Amazigh-Jewish association itself, Adghirni pulled no punches, declaring that “it has to do with
friendship, which is a humanist value for the benefit of all peoples, including the Arabs. The Arabs replace friendship with enmity and war.”53 Six
months later, another Amazigh-Jewish friendship association, Memoire
Collective, was founded in the northern city of al-Hoceima. Its primary
declared mission was to fight against manifestations of anti-Semitism.
The group was harshly attacked by both Islamist and radical leftist panArab circles, and its members subject to threats and intimidation.54 Ad-
150 Reentering History in the New Millennium
ghirni came to the group’s defense, rejecting the notion that governments
should have a monopoly on contacts with Israel, stating that the “blockade” to nongovernmental contacts had already been broken.55 Adghirni’s
positions would be headlined in a Moroccan daily thus: “Amazigh-Jewish
Rapprochement (al-Taqarub): The Time Bomb.”56
Israel’s January 2009 war with the Palestinian Hamas movement in Gaza
stirred powerful emotions throughout the MENA region, as graphic scenes
of death and destruction among Palestinian civilians were broadcast nonstop by Arab satellite television stations, led by al-Jazeera. Morocco witnessed widespread and repeated expressions of sympathy for the Palestinians and anger with Israel, which according to Abdallah Saaf, a Moroccan
academic and former government minister, indicated the public’s high degree of political consciousness and desire for involvement in public life.
“The Amazighs,” he said, “often depicted as hostile to Arab issues, asserted
their visceral attachment to Palestine,” along with massive numbers of Moroccans from across the political spectrum.57 This “national” description
of the reaction to the war, however, was not shared everywhere. In fact,
the Israeli-Hamas war, and the responses to it, touched off a new round of
accusations and responses between opponents and supporters of the Amazigh movement, making it another issue of contention between Islamists and Amazigh activists. On January 14, 2009, the Islamist PJD daily
Al-Tajdid published a front-page article, entitled “Ya Amazigh al-Maghrib,
Ayn Antum min Filastin?” (O Amazigh of Morocco, Where Do You Stand
on Palestine?), criticizing the absence of Amazigh associations and activists
from the solidarity demonstrations for Palestine:
What is the justification for the silence of these dozens of
groups, organizations, and individuals . . . ? What is the justification for the blackout of the Amazigh electronic and print
media on the issue of Gaza? What has muted Amazigh human
rights groups and kept them from denouncing [Israel], which
was the least they could do? Or is this yet another sign that
they are isolated, marginal, have nothing to do with the stand
of the Amazigh masses, and represent only themselves?58
Similarly, a Moroccan Amazigh columnist warned Amazigh youth to
be wary of plans whose secrets and meanings they may not understand,
“[for] the Zionist entity has descended in force on the Amazigh ethnicity,
in order to ignite civil strife in our countries.”59
Berber Identity and the International Arena 151
Ahmed Asid replied sharply to the Al-Tajdid attack, insisting on the
Amazigh people’s natural solidarity and identification with the Palestinians, in human and universal terms, which no one had a right to question.
The problem in Morocco, he said, was that the Islamist and Arab nationalist trends had a complete monopoly on the organized demonstrations:
the Amazigh movement categorically refused to be a part of anything of
which they were in charge. Moreover, these protests had both blatant antiJewish and extremist Arab ethnic content (chants such as “khaybar khaybar
ya-yahud,” referring to the Prophet Mohamed’s early battles with Arabian
Jewish tribes, and “Arab blood is boiling in Rabat”). Asid was withering
in his criticism of Hamas, especially its leadership in Damascus, which,
like Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah, issued empty slogans of struggle and victory while ordinary Palestinians suffered the consequences of their failed
policies.60 So was Moha Moukhlis, a journalist affiliated with Morocco’s
Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture (IRCAM), who attacked Hamas as “a
gang of killers by proxy . . . fundamentalist criminals who conceive of their
own people as cannon fodder,” as well as the “genocidal Arab regimes” and
the Arab-Islamic philosophy that he said underpinned “a culture of death
. . . loyal to the Arab-Islamic tradition of conquests, invasions, killings
and raids (razzias/ghaziat) . . . which cultivates hatred of the Other and
misanthropy,” particularly with regard to Jews. Yet the “Arab street,” he
continued, “has never dared to lift a finger against the crimes committed
by the fundamentalists of Hamas and the Arab-Islamic regimes on nonArab populations in Darfur, Kurdistan, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Algeria, [and]
Niger.” Instead, he declared, it insisted on sacrificing “the rights of the
Amazigh people . . . on the altar of Arab fundamentalism, the danger that
threatens the global civilization.” Some Kabyle militants expressed themselves in a similar fashion.61
The year ended with an episode of a very different kind, which nonetheless demonstrated the extent to which some Amazigh activists were
determined to situate themselves in opposition to prevailing norms and behavior in the Arab-Islamic Middle East. In November, an eighteen-person
delegation of Moroccan Amazigh educators and activists representing a
cross-section of the movement came to Israel to participate in a weeklong educational seminar at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial
Museum. The visit was not only, or even primarily, a statement about the
need for Moroccan educators to incorporate the study of the Holocaust
and its lessons into their curriculum. It was also a statement of solidarity
with Israel, and an effort to reach out to it, in opposition to the pan-Arab
152 Reentering History in the New Millennium
and Islamist currents in their own society. What’s more, they had no compunction about publicity regarding the trip and did not hesitate afterward
to respond to criticism voiced in the Moroccan and Arab media.62 Some
of the delegates participated in the founding of another Amazigh-Jewish
friendship society, this one based in Rabat, in early 2010.

Christianity and Judaism in Arab countries

Mind you even in the Middle East, there are substantial Jewish and Christian communities. Egypt doesn’t just have a substantial population of Nubians and Copts but also Christians. I do recall a report of Christian footballers being discriminated over there. Not to mention some of them bother to pick up the trash and raise pigs.

(Though bear in mind, given the nature of secrecy and cultural assimilation, there are likely some Christians who don’t want to eat pork either over there.)

Though Egypt might not be unique in here, anywhere with a Berber population also has a good number of Jews as well as Judacised Berbers and the like. If I’m not mistaken, there are Berbers who’re sympathetic to Jews just as there are Berbers (including Tuaregs) who’ve converted to Judaism.

That and traces of Jewish influences in some Berber communities. Actually some Berbers believe that they had a Jewish queen at some point. Bear in mind countries like Morocco also had a Jewish population and such influences and sympathies still exist among some Berbers today. Logically some Tuareg communities in Niger are also believed to be Jewish.

Moving onto Syria, Lebanon and Palestine (via Israel), they have some of the world’s oldest continuing Christian populations (I do vividly recall a telly report about somebody in a Lebanese church). Palestine at some point was majority Christian and even today Christians live there. Though I’m afraid Levantine Christians are often ignored.

Syria even has a Muslim community highly influenced by Christianity (though it’s not unique in this regard as Turkey also has it and those in North Africa have Jewish influences). Such a community’s reported to celebrate Palm Sunday, which’s one of those classic Christian holidays.

That and the Christian population being upper-middle class, I think. So it seems the Christian and Jewish presence as well as their influences on some Muslim communities is still being felt and shouldn’t be ignored considering that even the Middle East was majority Christian and/or had substantial Jewish populations at some point.

Apparently they don’t exist

I suspect if Stephanie Brown were to be outed as a Jewish Goth punk rocker, bear in mind she’s actually in good company. The real problem might be a matter of preconceptions. Something like if they’re Jewish, they should be bookish, high-achieving or studious.

But there couldn’t be any room for people like Perry Farrell, Hillel Slovak and to some extent, Joey Ramone. All three men are Jewish and very much involved in secular rock music. In fact Perry Farrell was openly influenced by Goth punk bands and formed his own.

Hillel Slovak was even the scion of Holocaust survivors and did a lot of drugs. Joey Ramone might be closer to some of those Jewish preconceptions but bear in mind he’s also a punk rocker to the end. Joey did suffer from a mental illness but that hasn’t stopped him from rocking.

Whatever that means but it seems almost none of these men fulfill Jewish stereotypes entirely, including those of well-intentioned philo-semites. Likewise if Stephanie Brown were Jewish (and an angry one at that from being bullied by her boyfriend Tim), being an angry Goth doesn’t stop her.

Especially from being a Jew but that would involve tearing down preconceptions.

Not so bad after all

I still think not all secular people are entirely bad and some may even be proven allies, be they secular scientists who do bother studying religion, people whose works may help deconstruct Christian beliefs and the like and those who’re sympathetic to religious people. (Actually if I’m not mistaken, some Muslims especially some Berbers are sympathetic to Jews and others were proven to be influenced by the latter.)

Gail Simone, for all her faults is sympathetic to Christianity or at least Christians and even pitched a storyline where this one superheroine converts to Christianity. Even then she might be an ally. There are Christians who do count some secular people as allies. But I’m afraid not too many are willing to consider the possibility even if it’s there in the Bible and also to be relevant in this day and age.