Moroccan Jewish diaspora in Israel and filmmaking: Documentary film between imaged memories and State’s Archive

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Abstract


The notion of “Cultural Moroccans” is a political category, claims the Israeli-Moroccan writer Albert Swissa. Applied to the Jewish Moroccan diaspora in Israel it becomes a sign of assimilation into to the Zionist narrative of Israelness, and into Zionism’s foundational myths:” negation of Exile”, “return to history”, and “redemption”! In this context, Moroccan Judaism had to undergo a re-figuration in order to purge it from all traces of Arabness: “primitive Moroccan-ness”. In the dominant political discourse, “Cultural Moroccans” stands for Israeli Moroccans whereas its antithesis “primitive Moroccans” stands for Morocco’s Moroccans: badly civilised Arabs. In this paper I shall deal with the notion of Moroccan-ess (heb. marocai’ot) and its taxonomy in Jewish Moroccan cinema and TV series, how Moroccan-ness has been construed and constructed as a critical category synonymous with diaspora-ness, and why one should consider it as a counter narrative against the hegemonic narrative about Israelness: double diaspora. This paper shall, in particular, focus on David Deri’s latest documentary film: Salah! Here, it is the land of Israel, which has caused an unprecedented debate not only in the Israeli public and parliament, but also among the Jewish Moroccan community in Israel and among Moroccan Jewish Diaspora in the World. There is even a call for an investigation into the “crimes” of the Zionist left in the power between 1948 and 1977. David Deri’ documentary film: Salah! Here, it is the land of Israel narrates the story of Moroccan Jews’ migration to and “forced” settlement in the development townships. The core story is Deri’s parents, who are natives of Marrakech and Taroudant (Morocco, their arrival and settlement in yet-to-be-built Yeruham – a development town in the desert of Negev. Settlement that fits the colonising ideal of the European socialist Zionism and its Orientalist identity politics toward the Oriental Jews, i.e., Jews from the Arab-Islamic World. The documentary film is based on personal testimonies of the first generation of Moroccan immigrants, interviews with immigration authorities, state’s archive, and scholars, some of whom are of Moroccan descent. The film consists of four parts! While the first three deal with the departure from the

home country, Morocco, arrival to Haifa Port (Israel), and forced dispersion of the Moroccan population between the newly established towns that consisted of tents and barracks, the four-part deals with the failure of the state’s education and employment policy towards the second generation of immigrant Jews. A policy that maintained them as it did with their parents as a “human material”; new “made in Israel” categories were manufactured by the state’s machinery of identity politics: “Cultural Moroccans” vs “primitive Moroccan”! Surprisingly, Deri’s documentary includes a filmed screening session for the inhabitant of Yeruham and the heated debate among the people in the audience, the stories of some of whom were told in the film. The film itself is a turning point in the history of the Moroccan diaspora in Israel. The use of documents from the state’s archives that have been sealed from more that 50 years by the second-generation filmmakers, scholars and activists is a valuable source for the historiography of the subaltern.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date27 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2018
EventMorocco in Motion: : Global Reach of Moroccan Cinema - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Oct 201828 Oct 2018
http://moroccancinema.exeter.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Materials-for-Conference-Booklet.pdf

Conference

ConferenceMorocco in Motion:
LocationUniversity of Edinburgh
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityEdinburgh
Period26/10/201828/10/2018
Internet address

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