Confronting Anti-Semitism for Arabic-Speaking Communities: A Muslim & Sephardi Approach
A Moroccan Muslim NGO (Association Mimouna) and US Jewish non-profit (American Sephardi Federation) are working together to create educational products and events that confront anti-Semitism and build bridges of understanding, cooperation, and friendship between our respective communities.
What is the mission and purpose of this program?
To counteract the rising tide of anti-Semitic sentiments within and anti-Semitic violence perpetrated by Arabic-speaking communities.
The American Sephardi Federation and Association Mimouna are partnering on this project to confront a critical problem facing our respective constituencies and the world. What we propose is to create a series of educational products and events derived from Association Mimouna's ground-breaking Arabic-language Holocaust curriculum that will target Arabic-speaking communities, especially in Europe. This will include short videos with poignant messages.
Europe is beset by rising anti-Semitic sentiments and anti-Semitic violence. While the continent has a blood-soaked history concerning Jews, from the Inquisition to the Crusader pogroms to the Shoah, the situation today is still rather surprising. Decades of political speeches invoking “Never Again,” Holocaust education, and the dramatic liberalization of European societies after the collapse of anti-Semitic regimes, has not, as many predicted, at last yielded a Europe safe for Jews. Far from it, Jews in once reasonably safe Western European countries are experiencing unimaginable terror. For many in the Sephardic community this is a double-tragedy, as they or their families fled to France and other European locales to escape persecution in Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, and other Muslim-majority countries.
The reasons for this situation are complex and involve many different groups and factors, ranging the resurgence of the far-right and left. Our focus is on the challenges—and opportunities—presented by the Arabic-speaking communities, who are relatively recent arrivals but may prove decisive in this battle of ideas. Some are already infected with anti-Semitism from their home countries. Others, such as the Moroccan immigrants, come to Europe without significant prejudice against Jews, but find themselves in an increasingly toxic milieu and susceptible to siren calls for extremism.
We have not formally started the proposed project yet while awaiting funding. In the interim, Association Mimouna is currently developing the first Arabic-language curriculum on the Holocaust for and by Muslims. In April, Association Mimouna and the American Sephardi Federation partnered with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on a major event featuring Sheikh Dr. Mohammed al-Issa, the General Secretary of the Mecca-based Muslim World League, at which he both condemned Holocaust denial and gratefully accepted a copy of the curriculum’s overview. Developed with the guidance of the US Holocaust Museum, Mimouna’s completed curriculum will be the source text for this joint project. The American Sephardi Federation participated in the Muslim World League's 2nd Conference on Reproachment between the US and Muslim World in New York and thereafter hosted Sheikh Dr. al-Issa for a private tour and meeting at the Center for Jewish History.
How do you measure the success of your program?
With your support, we will:
- Launch an online campaign to popularize the Holocaust curriculum, including but not limited to: creating 5 short videos (3-5 minutes each) in Arabic focused on key points of the message, 5 interviews with Arabic-speaking Islamic scholars, Holocaust survivors (such as Daniel Pearl’s mother, Ruth Pearl, who survived the Farhud in Baghdad), and/or popular personalities (such as Gad Elmaleh) speaking about their experiences as they relate to the curriculum and coexistence, a Facebook page and group, 10 sharable meme images, and a website to act as an online repository for all these materials.
- Create Mimouna Events – the Mimouna holiday’s historical model for coexistence can be a powerful tool in reaching our desired audiences and bringing together diverse groups for cultural and educational experiences. We plan to create a series of traditional Mimouna and Mimouna-style celebrations to serve as launch events for the curriculum, videos, and other benchmarks.
- Host an online conference on “Muslims and Holocaust Education” geared to engaging a global audience, but with an emphasis on reaching European Muslims. This conference will build a network of youth and educators who can be early adopters for the curriculum and its message.