An architect of Tunisian origin is behind a project to build a Museum to Jews from Arab Countries. Jean-Loup Mordehai Msika explains why such a museum, in the heart of Jerusalem, is vital to inform visitors of the ancient roots of the Jewish people in the Middle East. The project, unveiled publically for the first time on Point of No Return, has the backing of the coalition of associations of Jews from Arab countries in Israel and is now with the Jerusalem municipality for approval.
Two views of the model of the proposed Memorial-Museum, known provisionally as ‘the Museum of Jews from Arab Countries’ (Beit Yehudei Artzot Arav)
Architect Jean-Loup Mordehai Msika
“When dignitaries, diplomats or foreign heads of state visit Israel, they are ritually taken to Yad Vashem, as if this museum revealed the founding element of modern Israel and Zionism.
This only reinforces the false narrative circulated by our enemies, according to which Israel would be a colonial creation of Europe, as a compensation for the Holocaust, “at the expense of the Palestinians.”
This is not helpful, as Tel Aviv University international relations professor Emmanuel Navon remarked on i24news during President Trump’s recent visit. By consequence, Israel is perceived as a “colonial” state, and the catastrophic Security Council and UNESCO resolutions denying any historical link of the Jews to Jerusalem or Hebron are applauded by the nations …
For a long time, I have been thinking about the need to create, in the capital, Jerusalem, a major place, a Memorial-Museum, dedicated to the history and culture of the Jews from Arab and Muslim countries, so as to inform foreign heads of state, visiting dignitaries and diplomats about the ancient roots of the Jewish people, the genuine aboriginal people in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Jews were present there centuries before Christianity or Islam ever existed. They were occupied and colonized by Muslims in the 7th century, subjected to the status of “dhimma” (a cruel system of apartheid), to genocide over the centuries and to ethnic cleansing in the 20th century.
Jewish independence in the state of Israel, in the very region where its ancient roots are a historical fact, is the only alternative to the unacceptable “dhimma” that lasted 14 centuries. All of this needs to be made apparent and obvious by a visible Memorial-Museum, in the heart of the capital, Jerusalem.
I happen to be an architect, a town planner and a visual artist.
In agreement with the Coalition of Jewish Associations of Arab and Muslim Countries, represented by its President, Mrs Levana Zamir, I have endeavoured to work on a proposal for a Memorial-Museum dedicated to the history and culture of Jews from Arab and Muslim Countries.
Under Mrs Levana Zamir’s guidance, we held on 26 June 2017 a whole day symposium, at the Cultural Center of the Jews from Egypt, in Tel Aviv and a fruitful brainstorming.
“This is not out of the blue,” said Zamir at the symposium, “one of the resolutions presented to Prime Minister Netanyahu in June 2011, by the National Security Council, was exactly that: to establish a Museum for the History of the Jews from Arab and Islamic countries, as an integral part of that region, and to commemorate the “ethnic cleansing” tragedy of almost one million Jews from their ancestral land of birth – giving legitimation to the state of Israel”.
In June 2017, the heads of the Coalition of associations representing Jews from Arab Countries in Israel held a brainstorming on the museum project.
During the symposium, I presented detailed program for the Memorial-Museum, drawings, a 3D model, and a proposal for the most appropriate site, in the urban context of the capital, etc …
We are now waiting for a chance to discuss this proposal with the municipality of Jerusalem after we deposited the 3D model of the Museum at the Mayor of Jerusalem’s Office.”