Issue ID: 04
Propagandes et persécutions
La Résistance et le “problème juif” 1940-1944
Sharing and Unsharing Memories. Life Stories of Jews from Muslim-Arab Countries: Fear, Anger and Discontent within a Silenced Displacement
As a massive exodus drained the Jewish communities from Muslim-Arab countries, starting just after World War II a large number of them migrated in cosmopolitan Montréal. This paper offers a new perspective on their displacement, inquiring on individual narratives of their reconstruction of shared and unshared memories. In this post-Shoah and post-colonial migration, how have these departures been represented within individual memory? What are the elements that have been shared and others hidden? And what are the consequences of uprooting within the individual realm? Using an oral history methodology, the life stories of Sephardic Jews reveal a paradigm present in certain individuals of an ever-present fear and emotional burden, as well as an ability to maintain their agency over their own trajectory. Through the sharing of memories enabled by the project Life stories of Montrealers displaced by war, genocide and human rights violation, I will look at four narratives from four individuals that demonstrate these lingering emotions of fear, anger and discontent. By engaging with usually unshared memories, information is revealed on the personal significance of massive displacement and hopeful for future reconciliation with a fragmented past.
This text 1 explores the memories of Moroccan Jews who left their country of origin to go to France and to Canada, through their life stories. By questioning the constitution of a shared memory and of a group memory, it stresses the interest to adopt a generational perspective to better understand the migration of this population. While some interviewees emphasize the rationalization of their departure, the younger ones, consider their leaving as a natural step in their many migrations. These distinctions are central to show how the memory of the departures and the depiction of the colonial society are shared by members of a group, and unshared with the larger Moroccan society.
Shared Memories and Oblivion: Is Israeli Jews’ Nostalgia for Morocco Shared by the Muslims in Morocco?
In this article 1 we debate whether nostalgia for an idyllic past such as that left in the memory of Israeli Jews of Moroccan origin, a past denied by official Jewish narrative and now re-surfacing in the creativity of second generations, is shared by the Muslims who have stayed in Morocco. In the face of Morocco’s post-colonial historiographical silence, it has been questioned how much has remained in the collective memory of Morocco, given a Jewish presence evidence of which continues to be found in Morocco in the form of spaces, objects and places of ritual. The article discusses the results of research carried out in 2005-2009 in the city of Meknes, in the course of which were interviewed both those who frequented Jews, especially until the 1960s-70s, when Jews were still numerous, and also young people who had barely the opportunity to meet them. In particular we highlight the aspects of such memories shared by both Jews and Muslims as well as the divergences.
De-Westernizing Morocco: Pre-Migration Colonial History and the Ethnic-Oriented Self-Representation of Tangier’s Natives in Israel
The article presents and analyzes the self-representing narrative strategies through which westernized Jewish immigrants from Tangier (Morocco) de-westernize their personal pre-migration colonial history in the context of the ethnic conflict in Israel. By so doing, the article challenges from a new perspective the general post-Zionist notion according to which ethnic revivals among Moroccan Jews in Israel came about in opposition to the European-oriented national narrative; a narrative that had distorted their authentic Mizraá¸¥i culture and history, often in the form of de-Arabization. In an attempt to explain the motivations for de-westernization, the article further implies that not merely did the ethnic revival of Tangier’s natives not match the general post-Zionist notion, but moreover that it had often formed shape in the course of contrasting it. Only through de-westernized self-representations, could Tangier’s natives contest the general representation of Moroccans as Mizraá¸¥im with the sense of “their own” Moroccan ethnic history.
In the following contribution, I will approach in three steps the construction of memory by North-African Jews in the Diaspora. I will first trace the history and historiography of Jews in Arab countries and point out their characteristics. This will lead me to look more precisely at the concept of “Sephardic Jews,” its meaning and application as a key-notion in the memory building for Jews from Arab countries in the Diaspora nowadays. As literature and filmmaking hold a crucial role in the perception and transmission of memory,1 I will then present the works of two Jewish women artists, one living in France and the other living in Quebec, both with North African origins. I will try to show how they use the past for identity (de-)construction and compare their approaches. I choose the two examples because they illustrate two extremely opposed positions concerning the role of cultural identity. Standing in the intersection of history and literary studies, my interdisciplinary work considers literary and film as memory archives and subjective representations of the past not as historical sources. In referring to Jews in Arab countries this means in my article more precisely to look at the North-African Jews. That is why my article treats the following aspects:
The Sifrut ha-ma’abarah (transit camp literature) represents a narrative space where contemporary Israeli authors of Middle Eastern origin tell the stories forgotten, considered insignificant, and often repressed of the “oriental Jews” (Mizraḥim),1 who emigrated to Israel from North Africa and the Middle East during the 1950’s and the 1960’s. After a brief historical introduction on the ma’abarot (transit camps), I aim to unravel the experience of the ma’abarah as a “place of memory” and a “narrative place.” My reflections are based on the concept of “space/place” as conveyed from a human geography perspective. In this framework, I suggest different “literary declensions” through which ma’abarah might be interpreted, and in particular as a narrative place of defiance, resistance, and exile.
Israel and Palestine, over the course of their historical conflict, have created a complex patchwork of memory narratives dealing with different representations of the same landscape. The article examines how the two peoples have elaborated their narratives of national identity by practicing a pre-modern repertoire to shape a modern identity, and by knitting together their collective, multiple visions of the land. Israelis and Palestinians have used space as a temporal-spatial tool to practice the remembering of lost land and to elaborate an imaginative geography. Attention is focused on the relations created by the process of dreaming/imagining space, and on the intricacies, denials, oblivion and ambivalence related to memory construction.