Photo Credit: courtesy, Tel Aviv University
A Girl in a Blue Shirt, a novel by Prof. Bensimhon

For the first time ever, an Israeli novel has been translated into Moroccan Arabic, and will be sold in Morocco.

Prof. Gabriel Bensimhon, a member of the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television at the Tel Aviv University, is the author of “A Girl in a Blue Shirt,” translated this month into Moroccan Arabic.

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The novel, which was published by “Yediot Books” in 2013, unfolds a love story between an immigrant boy from Morocco and an Israeli-born (sabra) girl who is in love with a Holocaust survivor, against the background of the early years of the State of Israel and the big influx of immigrants from Morocco.

The book was chosen for translation by Prof. Mohamed Elmedlaoui of the Mohammed V University of Rabat who has been following and researching Prof. Bensimhon’s works in the fields of literature and theater, and was translated by his student, Dr. Ayashi Eladraoui.

Prof. Bensimhon, who was born in Morocco, relates, “I grew up in the town of Sefrou in Morocco until I immigrated to Israel at the age of 10. As an academic, I have studied Moroccan culture extensively.

“There was always a warm corner in my heart for the rich and multi-faceted aspects that characterize the Moroccan culture. As a Moroccan Jew, I feel that I have come to realize a dream: the fact that my works are read in my hometown is a source of great personal pride.

“My play ‘A Moroccan King’ that was produced in the National Theatre ‘Habima’ in Tel Aviv and won ‘The Lieber Prize’ for the Jewish classical Play” by Tel Aviv University is supposed to be produced by the National Theatre Mohammed V in Rabat,” he continued.

“I hope that in the wake of the peace accords, novels and works by additional Israeli authors will be translated into Moroccan.”

Prof. Eyal Zisser, the Deputy Rector of the Tel Aviv University and a Middle East affairs expert, adds, “We are recently witnessing a growing interest of the Arab world in Israel and its culture, in particular with regard to Israelis from Arab countries.

“We have seen this in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. The waves of immigration of Jewish communities from Arab states to Israel, who inhabited these countries for periods of over a thousand years, caused a great economic damage. Hence, it is not surprising to find, against the background of the normalization agreements, that there is a yearning for the old times when Jews and Moslems coexisted.

“In this respect, the translation of Prof. Bensimhon’s book into Moroccan Arabic is an additional tier towards renewed comradeship.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.