Homeland/diaspora dichotomies are emblematic of the Zionist philosophy and, as a consequence, also in the common critical annals of long-lasting diasporic ethnicities among Jewish immigrants to Israel. This observation applies in particular to Jewish immigrants from Islamic countries, whose Eastern pre-immigration cultures conceivably contrast with the Western character of the national-Zionist venture. In this article, I focus on MABAT, an Israel-based hometown association of Jews from the former Spanish-dominated area in northern Morocco which, from its founding in 1979, embraced the Zionist notion of homecoming. I show how they came to form their own singular network in Israel, while appealing to their former hometowns, as well as to their emerging centres of diffusion in the Americas and Europe, thereby challenging commonly held assumptions of Israel/diaspora, East/West dichotomies in the annals of Jewish ethnicities in Israel.
Aviad Moreno is a faculy member at the Ben Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel & Zionism at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. His book Europe from Morocco: The Minutes of Tangier's Jewish Community, 1860–1864 was published by the Ben-Zvi Institute in 2015.