Podcast: Play in new window
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Alma Heckman joins us to talk about twentieth-century Moroccan Jews, and especially Moroccan Jewish communism and its broader politics, which is the focus of her recent book The Sultan’s Communists: Moroccan Jews and the Politics of Belonging.
Listen in as we dive into the history of Moroccan Jewish politics, the development of Zionism, communism, colonialism, and nationalism in Morocco and North Africa at large, and why it’s important to think through the choices and agency that Jews in Morocco and beyond have had in determining their fate and politics throughout the twentieth century.
Alma Rachel Heckman is an Assistant Professor of History and the Neufeld-Levin Chair of Holocaust Studies at the University of California–Santa Cruz. She is the author of The Sultan’s Communists: Moroccan Jews and the Politics of Belonging, which was published by Stanford University Press in 2021.
Jason, thank you for facilitating such wonderful conversations episode after episode. Towards the end of this episode, you asserted that work such as this one discussed in this episode helped to complicate a hegemonic Zionist historical narrative about diaspora Jews lacking political agency in the diaspora. My question is: what is this Zionist historical narrative to which your are referring? Who are the scholars you’re criticizing? I’m 37 years old with a lifelong interest (and undergrad degree) in history, and my (limited) experience is that we’re decades past any semblance of Zionist hegemony over Jewish historical narratives. So I’m curious as to why you think that’s something that needs pushing back against, or if there is some more recent scholarship reinforcing Zionist narratives of which I’m unaware.