An exhibition of photographs of Jewish life from the city mellahs to the Atlas mountains, set to open in Belgium on 4 September 2016, will mark European Day of Culture. The day will be dedicated to the ‘Jews in the lands of Islam’.
The Jewish Museum in Brussels
will feature more than 100 photos of the Jews of Morocco taken by Aron Zede Schulmann. Visitors will be able to watch Ya Hessra Douk Li Yam , a documentary made by Moroccan Jewish community leader Serge Berdugo, and Mark Berdugo. Professor Joseph Chetrit will come from Haïfa to give two lectures. There will be workshops on Andalusian perfumes and Arab and Hebrew calligraphy.
In May 2014, the Jewish Museum in Brussels was the scene of a terrorist attack. Four people died.
The exhibition follows another major initiative to promote Moroccan ‘tolerance and diversity’, the touring exhibition Morocco and Europe: six centuries through the eyes of one another.
The exhibition has been on tour since 2010 and focuses on six centuries of exchange between Morocco and Europe. It aims to foster dialogue and strengthen links across the Mediterranean.
However, critics charge that it is ‘islamically-correct’, and conceals or plays down historical facts in order to project an illusion of cultural diversity. The journalist Veronique Chemlaaccuses the exhibition of promoting ‘a biased and partial vision’,
full of ‘hollow generalities’ and projecting a false sense of security
concerning the topic of modern Moroccan immigration into Europe, in
spite of incidents of terrorism perpetrated by North Africans on European
The diversity vaunted by the exhibition is belied by the fact that a
community of almost 300, 000 Jews has been reduced to less than 4,000.
references to Judaism and Jews abound in the exhibition – an oil lamp
for Hanukkah, lithographs of Isaac Bitton,
boxer (1778-1838) and Dr. Moses Edrei (1774-1842) ,
Kabbalist and professor of modern and Oriental languages, an aquatint
representing a Moroccan Jew selling ribbons, mirrors and
scissors in the streets of London (early nineteenth century), and a watercolour
of a young Jewish woman from Tangier – the role of Jews in forging ties with Europe is curiously downplayed.
Sponsors include the Brussels municipality, the Institute for Moroccan and Mediterranean Studies, the Moroccan bank Chaabi du Maroc, Royal Air Maroc, the historian Elie Barnavi, Simone Susskind,
André Azoulay, advisor to kings Hassan II et Mohammed VI,
and president of the Anna Lindh foundation for intercultural dialogue .