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Jewish Panafricanism

It is most important for all people everywhere, mostly -but not only- for Africans, to understand and meditate about the relevance of Panafrican philosophy.
The Panafricanism we are talking about, is not an exotic dream or a utopia, proposed by certain groups or sects, with afro-centric discourse, which tend to galvanize certain ethnicities over others, which foment divisions, and are often tools of political manipulations. The Panafricanism we are advocating is firmly rooted in historic achievement. It is, squarely put, the Panafrican philosophy of Their Majesties, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, and King Mohammed V of Morocco, may their memories be a blessing for generations to come. They are the ones who achieved victory over the fascist armies of occupation of Mussolini and Petain, and which eventually caused the dismanteling of the German Third Reich. Through the achievements of these two giants of humanity, people everywhere saw freedom and human dignity as a reality, and African nations the beginning of their emancipation from colonialism. As African Jews, we can bever forget the debt owed to these two monarchs, whom God sent to be shields and liberators. Together with millions of other Africans from many different faiths and cultures, these redeemers taught us to see ourselves and others around us as equally deserving of rights, regardless of race or religion, regardless of social class, or gender. For the first time in human history, the notions of human rights, of collective security, of world moralitý, became current. Before the arrival on the world scene of Emperor Haile Selassie and King Mohammed V, these notions were only religious, or philosophical wishes, but far from being realities for anyone. Blacks in America, and in Africa, had no rights. Indians in India were colonial subjects, Moslems like Jews and Roms, in most of Europe were treated like subhumans, and voiceless second class citizens existed everywhere. Much still needs to be done to achieve the full results of Panafrican development, but once the road was opened, the eyes too became opened up toward these goals, like never before. When in Africa, we study a Torah or a Qur’an, or books about Ifa, let us remember first how the right to do these things unmolested, came to us. It came to us concretely through the sacrificial effort of the two great luminaries of our generation who put their lives on the line, not just for themselves, but for every African man, woman, and child from any faith or culture, even different from theirs. They wanted African cultures to survive, thrive, and prosper in the midst of modernity. They insisted on the values of peace and tolerance. They engaged the modern African society to focus on education for all, and on sustainable development which does not fall into an industrial nightmare, by abandoning time proven technologies for new ones that haven’t yet stood the test of time.
Emperor Haile Selassie I was of the Christian faith, and descendent of King Solomon. King Mohammed V was of the Moslem faith, and descendent of Prophet Muhammad. Yet they spoke in the defence of every human being, from whatever religious background they may be. They honored their own faiths by standing for all people’s rights to exist, everywhere. They also ardently militated for a border free African continent, which in absence of conflicts, could temain open for all. To us it means that whoever wants to add new borders in Africa cannot call himself Panafrican.
To us it means that there need to be many paths toward the same goal of living together as Africans. Africa can show the way in a divided world, in a time when race, ethnicity, religions and genders seperations and illusory distinctions cause violence, and the senseless spread of hate speech. When the latest internet technology cannot protect us from these scourges, but becomes instead a tool used to spread it even further, we are reminded of how much wisdom and vision our Panafrican leaders were blessed to have. Their teaching, that while we welcome beneficial progress we must not abandon ancient technology, comes to mind.
In times like these, we need more than ever to meditate their teachings and follow their example.

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