Filmmaker Michale Boganim (Odessa…Odessa! SFJFF '05) reflects on her family’s story with a thoughtful film about the second class treatment of Mizrahi Jews in Israel. After Israel was formed and life in the Middle East and North Africa became more difficult for Jews, there was an exodus to the Promised Land. But upon their arrival, many Mizrahi Jews discovered that the Promised Land misrepresented what awaited them. The daughter of Charlie Boganim, a founder of the Israeli Black Panthers (which advocated for Mizrahi rights), Michale explores how Mizrahim were shipped to transit camps and dusty border towns and were encouraged to attend vocational schools only. They were also under suspicion for speaking Arabic, and their history, as opposed to Ashkenazi history, was not taught in Israeli classrooms. Tellingly, one interviewee says of the Ashkenazi Israelis, “Their dignity would crumble if they discovered we were not as primitive as they thought.” Michale’s family journeyed from Morocco to Israel and ultimately left for France after her father decided to move in search of an egalité that he felt was missing in Israel. The director deftly weaves her family’s struggle with compelling interviews of three generations of Mizrahi Jews still living on the physical and psychological periphery.
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