Friday, April 29, 2011

Baltimore Tikkun/Jewish Voice for Peace announcement/Young Mizrahi Israelis' open letter to Arab peers

On May 1st, at Suburban Club, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Baltimore Zionist District will hold its 2nd annual symposium Israel’s Future in a Changing Middle East

Stand With Us  at the corner of Park Heights Ave. between Slade Avenue & Old Court Road between 8:15 & 8:45 AM.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

For peace, justice & equality for Palestinians & Israelis

peace dove


peace dove

Please make sure all signs have a message of peace and nonviolence. 


Young Mizrahi Israelis' open letter to Arab peers


      "We wish to express our identification with and

      hopes for this stage of generational transition in

      the history of the Middle East and North Africa, and

      we hope that it will open the gates to freedom and

      justice and a fair distribution of the region's



+972 Magazine Blog


April 24, 2011


Translated from Hebrew;  English edited by Chana Morgenstern


In a letter titled "Ruh Jedida: A New Spirit for 2011,"

young Jewish descendants of the Arab and Islamic world

living in Israel write to their peers in the Middle East and

North Africa


We, as the descendents of the Jewish communities of the Arab

and Muslim world, the Middle East and the Maghreb, and as

the second and third generation of Mizrahi Jews in Israel,

are watching with great excitement and curiosity the major

role that the men and women of our generation are playing so

courageously in the demonstrations for freedom and change

across the Arab world. We identify with you and are

extremely hopeful for the future of the revolutions that

have already succeeded in Tunisia and Egypt. We are equally

pained and worried at the great loss of life in Libya,

Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and many other places in the region.


Our generation's protest against repression and oppressive

and abusive regimes, and its call for change, freedom, and

the establishment of democratic governments that foster

citizen participation in the political process, marks a

dramatic moment in the history of the Middle East and North

Africa, a region which has for generations been torn between

various forces, internal and external, and whose leaders

have often trampled the political, economic, and cultural

rights of its citizens.


We are Israelis, the children and grandchildren of Jews who

lived in the Middle East and North Africa for hundreds and

thousands of years. Our forefathers and mothers contributed

to the development of this region's culture, and were part

and parcel of it. Thus the culture of the Islamic world and

the multigenerational connection and identification with

this region is an inseparable part of our own identity.


We are a part of the religious, cultural, and linguistic

history of the Middle East and North Africa, although it

seems that we are the forgotten children of its history:

First in Israel, which imagines itself and its culture to be

somewhere between continental Europe and North America. Then

in the Arab world, which often accepts the dichotomy of Jews

and Arabs and the imagined view of all Jews as Europeans,

and has preferred to repress the history of the Arab-Jews as

a minor or even nonexistent chapter in its history; and

finally within the Mizrahi communities themselves, who in

the wake of Western colonialism, Jewish nationalism and Arab

nationalism, became ashamed of their past in the Arab world.


Consequently we often tried to blend into the mainstream of

society while erasing or minimizing our own past. The mutual

influences and relationships between Jewish and Arab

cultures were subjected to forceful attempts at erasure in

recent generations, but evidence of them can still be found

in many spheres of our lives, including music, prayer,

language, and literature.


We wish to express our identification with and hopes for

this stage of generational transition in the history of the

Middle East and North Africa, and we hope that it will open

the gates to freedom and justice and a fair distribution of

the region's resources.


We turn to you, our generational peers in the Arab and

Muslim world, striving for an honest dialog which will

include us in the history and culture of the region. We

looked enviously at the pictures from Tunisia and from Al-

Tahrir square, admiring your ability to bring forth and

organize a nonviolent civil resistance that has brought

hundreds of thousands of people out into the streets and the

squares, and finally forced your rulers to step down.


We, too, live in a regime that in reality-despite its

pretensions to being "enlightened" and "democratic"-does not

represent large sections of its actual population in the

Occupied Territories and inside of the Green Line border(s).

This regime tramples the economic and social rights of most

of its citizens, is in an ongoing process of minimizing

democratic liberties, and constructs racist barriers against

Arab-Jews, the Arab people, and Arabic culture. Unlike the

citizens of Tunisia and Egypt, we are still a long way from

the capacity to build the kind of solidarity between various

groups that we see in these countries, a solidarity movement

that would allow us to unite and march together-all who

reside here-into the public squares, to demand a civil

regime that is culturally, socially, and economically just

and inclusive.


We believe that, as Mizrahi Jews in Israel, our struggle for

economic, social, and cultural rights rests on the

understanding that political change cannot depend on the

Western powers who have exploited our region and its

residents for many generations. True change can only come

from an intra-regional and inter-religious dialog that is in

connection with the different struggles and movements

currently active in the Arab world. Specifically, we must be

in dialog and solidarity with struggles of the Palestinians

citizens of Israel who are fighting for equal political and

economic rights and for the termination of racist laws, and

the struggle of the Palestinian people living under Israeli

military occupation in the West Bank and in Gaza in their

demand to end the occupation and to gain Palestinian

national independence.


In our previous letter written following Obama's Cairo

speech in 2009, we called for the rise of the democratic

Middle Eastern identity and for our inclusion in such an

identity. We now express the hope that our generation -

throughout the Arab, Muslim, and Jewish world - will be a

generation of renewed bridges that will leap over the walls

and hostility created by previous generations and will renew

the deep human dialog without which we cannot understand

ourselves: between Jews, Sunnis, Shias, and Christians,

between Kurds, Berbers, Turks, and Persians, between

Mizrahis and Ashkenazis, and between Palestinians and

Israelis. We draw on our shared past in order to look

forward hopefully towards a shared future.


We have faith in intra-regional dialog-whose purpose is to

repair and rehabilitate what was destroyed in recent

generations-as a catalyst towards renewing the Andalusian

model of Muslim-Jewish-Christian partnership, God willing,

Insha'Allah, and as a pathway to a cultural and historical

golden era for our countries. This golden era cannot come to

pass without equal, democratic citizenship, equal

distribution of resources, opportunities, and education,

equality between women and men, and the acceptance of all

people regardless of faith, race, status, gender, sexual

orientation, or ethnic affiliation. All of these rights play

equal parts in constructing the new society to which we

aspire. We are committed to achieving these goals within a

process of dialog between all of the people of Middle East

and North Africa, as well as a dialog we will undertake with

different Jewish communities in Israel and around the world.


We, the undersigned:


Shva Salhoov (Libya), Naama Gershy (Serbia, Yemen), Yael

Ben-Yefet (Iraq, Aden), Leah Aini (Greece, Turkey), Yael

Berda (Tunisia), Aharon Shem-Tov (Iraq, Iranian Kurdistan),

Yosi Ohana (born in Morocco), Yali Hashash (Libya, Yemen),

Yonit Naaman (Yemen, Turkey), Orly Noy (born in Iran), Gadi

Alghazi (Yugoslavia, Egypt), Mati Shemoelof (Iran, Iraq,

Syria), Eliana Almog (Yemen, Germany), Yuval Evri ((Iraq),

Ophir Tubul (Morocco, Algeria), Moti Gigi (Morocco), Shlomit

Lir (Iran), Ezra Nawi (Iraq), Hedva Eyal (Iran), Eyal Ben-

Moshe (Yemen), Shlomit Binyamin (Cuba, Syria, Turkey), Yael

Israel (Turkey, Iran), Benny Nuriely (Tunisia), Ariel Galili

(Iran), Natalie Ohana Evry (Morocco, Britain), Itamar Toby

Taharlev (Morocco, Jerusalem, Egypt), Ofer Namimi (Iraq,

Morocco), Amir Banbaji (Syria), Naftali Shem-Tov (Iraq,

Iranian Kurdistan), Mois Benarroch (born in Morocco), Yosi

David (Tunisia Iran), Shalom Zarbib (Algeria), Yardena Hamo

(Iraqi Kurdistan), Aviv Deri (Morocco) Menny Aka (Iraq), Tom

Fogel (Yemen, Poland), Eran Efrati (Iraq), Dan Weksler

Daniel (Syria, Poland, Ukraine), Yael Gidnian (Iran),

Elyakim Nitzani (Lebanon, Iran, Italy), Shelly Horesh-Segel

(Morocco), Yoni Mizrahi (Kurdistan), Betty Benbenishti

(Turkey), Chen Misgav (Iraq, Poland), Moshe Balmas

(Morocco), Tom Cohen (Iraq, Poland, England), Ofir Itah

(Morocco), Shirley Karavani (Tunisia, Libya, Yemen), Lorena

Atrakzy (Argentina, Iraq), Asaf Abutbul (Poland, Russia,

Morocco), Avi Yehudai (Iran), Diana Ahdut (Iran, Jerusalem),

Maya Peretz (Nicaragua, Morocco), Yariv Moher (Morocco,

Germany), Tami Katzbian (Iran), Oshra Lerer (Iraq, Morocco),

Nitzan Manjam (Yemen, Germany, Finland), Rivka Gilad (Iran,

Iraq, India), Oshrat Rotem (Morocco), Naava Mashiah (Iraq),

Zamira Ron David (Iraq) Omer Avital (Morocco, Yemen), Vered

Madar (Yemen), Ziva Atar (Morocco), Yossi Alfi (born in

Iraq), Amira Hess (born in Iraq), Navit Barel (Libya), Almog

Behar (Iraq, Turkey, Germany)




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