Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Berbers blame current miseries on absence of Jews

The Berber New Year celebrations at the end of January were a good opportunity to reflect on the close and harmonious relations and cross-fertilisation between Jews and Berbers - two ancient peoples whose presence in North Africa predated the Arab Muslim invasion by thousands of years.

This Guysen Israel News article quotes a study by Shlomo Elbaz: "Berber society seems to have been one of the few where antisemitism was unknown. Berber law or azref (tradition) differs from Muslim law as it is quite separate from the religious sphere. It is essentially secular and egalitarian and does not impose a particular status on the Jews, whereas Muslim law fixes the status of Jews and Christians as dhimmi, protected and subject to duties and prohibitions.

"The Jew had a well-defined place in the socio-economic order of the Berber village: he was generally a craftsman (jeweller, shoemaker, blacksmith) or a peddler. Often he moved around. Even today after 30 or 40 years the villagers of the Atlas mountains and the Sahara valleys remember with nostalgia the times when the Jews were part of the landscape, and even go so far as to blame their present miseries on the Jews' absence."

Read article in full (French)

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