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New oral history documentation on the Jews of Kurdistan
The severe dearth of written sources on Kurdistan, drove him as a student to embark an oral history fieldwork research, conducting altogether hundreds of in-depth oral interviews with more than sixty elderly JewishKurdish informants, whose excellent memory was the product of oral culture. He thus saved their memories from being lost forever. This study forms a new set of historical records. His book on the Jews and the tribal Kurdish society has received wide attention and commended even in its Arabic translation, published in Beirut, as an "innovation," and has been translated as well into Kurdish, in both Sorani and Kurmanji, Persian and French.
Prime Minister's Advisor on Arabs & Minorities Affairs
Expertise in the Arab Minorities in Israel
As advisor to the Prime Minister on Arab affairs at the Prime Minister ministry (May 1997 - November 1999) he was engaged in the complex relations between the government and the communities of minorities. In 2016, within the Public Security Ministry, he formed a new governmental forum for dialogue with local Arab leaders
A newsletter entitled "Yedidut [he]" (Hebrew, Friendship) edited in 1993 in Jerusalem, as one of the first steps of the newly established "Israeli-Kurdistan Friendship League", to send the message across to the Kurdish people in Kurdistan and the diaspora.
The dispute between Muslims and Christians in Nazareth
He was the coordinator of the third Ministerial Committee set to resolve the dispute between Muslims and Christians in Nazareth regarding a dispute near the Basilica of the Annunciation, a dispute that concerned leaders throughout the world, such as the US president George W. Bush and the Pope John Paul. The daily presence of Muslim activists in the plaza near the old mosque, known as "Shihab al-Din," became an obstacle for the plan to built an open plaza for the historical visit of the Pope John Paul II in the year 2000. He constructed the final draft for the cabinet resolution, which was used by the State Attorney in the Supreme Court to repel the appeal against the government, in the years 2001-2003.
Director of the Institute of Students and Faculty on Israel, in New York
Moti Zaken served as the last National Director of ISFI, or "The Institute of Students and Faculty on Israel," in New York, an organization under the auspices of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Consulate in New York City (1989-1991). ISFI provided political and cultural resources, ideas and tools, for Jewish and pro-Israel student activists throughout the US and Canada, through which Israeli oriented activities and the message of Israel could be promoted in US campuses.
Journalism, Media and Public Speaking
In 1982, as Chief-Editor of the students' newspaper at the Hebrew University Pi-Ha'aton ( [he]) ("The donkey's mouth", taken from the Book of Numbers, 22:28), one of his main journalistic achievements was the unearthing of an old photograph from 1948, taken by Arabs and showing mutilated faces and bodies of Jewish soldiers that were part of an army unit that later became known as "Nabi Daniel Caravan" ( ). He published the photograph and the story behind its discovery in a special Independence Day Edition, on 26 April 1982. He was also the Co-Chief editor of "Tipul Shoresh" (Heb.,root canal treatment) an annual newspaper of the public activists' program at the Hebrew University, the circulation of which was stopped by the directors and university administration, due to its critical approach towards the university policy regarding social issues. As a scholar, Dr. Zaken has been a frequent guest in radio and TV programs, speaking mostly on the Kurds and the minorities in the Middle East, and has been interviewed by newspapers as an expert on these subjects.
He also speaks in public on these topics.
"Tribal Chieftains and their Jewish Subjects in Kurdistan: A Comparative Study in Survival," PhD dissertation, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2003.
Books (including translations)
Jews of Kurdistan & Their tribal Chieftains: A study in survival, by Mordechai (Moti) Zaken, 2nd and Revised EBook Edition, "(Jerusalem:2015).
Jewish Subjects and their Tribal Chieftains in Kurdistan: A Study in Survival, in Jewish Identities in a Changing World, vol. 9 (Leiden and Boston): Brill, 2007. (Review of the book)
Arabic translation: Yahud Kurdistan wa-ru'as'uhum al-qabaliyun: Dirasa fi fan al-baqa'. Transl., Su'ad M. Khader; Published by the Academic Center for Research, Beirut, 2013; ? ? : ( ) / ? ? ? ? ? ; , 2013 : ?.
Sorani translation: D. Mordixai Zakin, Gulekekany Kurdistan, Sulaimaniyya and Arbil: 2015.
Kurmanji translation of one part of the book: "Jews, Kurds and Arabs, between 1941 and 1952", by Dr. Amr Taher Ahmed Metîn n° 148, October 2006, p. 98-123.
French translation of one part of the book: "Juifs, Kurdes et Arabes, entre 1941 et 1952," Errance et Terre promise: Juifs, Kurdes, Assyro-Chaldéens, etudes kurdes, revue semestrielle de recherches, 2005: 7-43, translated by Sandrine Alexie.
Selected lectures or conference participation
The third World Kurdish Scientific Congress, Stockholm, October 11-13, 2013.
The Second World Kurdish Scientific Congress, Erbil, Kurdistan, October 11-15, 2012.
The Jewish communities in Kurdistan within the tribal Kurdish society in M. Gunter, ed., Routledge Handbook on the Kurds, 2018: 181-201
The Lost from the Land of Ashur - the migrations from Kurdistan and the settlement in Eretz-Israel, in A. Mizrahi and A. Ben-David, eds., The Tribes - Evidence of Israel, Exile, Immigrations, Absorption, Contribution and Integration, 2001: 340-373, Hebrew.
Inventors' Fate" A Folk-Tale in the Neo-Aramaic of Zakho, in M. Bar-Asher (ed.), Massorot: Studies in Language Traditions and Jewish Languages, vols. 9, 10, 11 (1997): 383-395, Hebrew.
The Book of Ruth in Neo-Aramaic, by Gideon Goldenberg and Mordechai Zaken, in W. Heinrichs (Ed.), Studies in Neo-Aramaic, Cambridge: Harvard Semitic Studies Series (1990): 151-157.
^His research is quoted and referred to by many scholars who deal with different subjects touched upon by Zaken. See for instance the following publications: Nader Entessar, Kurdish politics in the Middle East, Lexington Books, 2009:213; Michael Fischback, Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries, Columbia University Press, 2010: 215, 355; Oman Tax Guide, Lulu.com, 2015:79-80.
^"The Book of Ruth in Neo-Aramaic," [By] G. Goldenberg and M. Zaken, in W. Heinrichs (Ed.), Studies in Neo-Aramaic, Cambridge: Harvard Semitic Studies Series(1990): 151-157.
^"Inventors' Fate" A Folk-Tale in the Neo-Aramaic of Zakho," in M. Bar-Asher (ed.), Massorot: Studies in Language Traditions and Jewish Languages, vols. 9, 10, 11 (1997): 383-395 [Heb.]
^The Jews of Kurdistan & their Tribal Chieftains: A Study in Survival, by Mordechai (Moti) Zaken (Jerusalem, 2015), Rev. & 2nd EBook edition; Jewish Subjects and their Tribal Chieftains in Kurdistan: A Study in Survival, in Jewish Identities in a Changing World, vol. 9 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2007; The book has recently published into Arabic by the Center for Academic Research in Beirut, 2013. Its importance may be viewed in the introductions of the editors of the book. The translator into Arabic Dr. Suad M. Khader explains: "This book is considered an important contribution to both the Kurdish and the Arabic library...the translation of this kind of book is considered an important necessity... the author introduced an important picture of this era of Kurdistan."
Dr. Nasir al-Ka'bi, Director of the Center for Academic Research in Beirut wrote:
"The major innovation of this study is the use of the verbal narrative (oral history) as it was clear that the other traditional and archival sources were not sufficient..." This study is distinct from other studies of the Jews of the Orient, as it concentrates on the nature of the relations of the Jews with their vicinities, namely the aghas and the masters; their relations with the authorities, the rulers and the leaders of the towns, which permits the political dimension, and their relations with the Muslims, including the religious dimension..."His book on the Jews and the tribal Kurdish society has received wide attention and commended even in its Arabic translation, published in Beirut, as an "innovation."
^Jewish subjects and their tribal chieftains in Kurdistan : a study in survival. OCLC646789877.
^Zaken, Mordechai (January 2007). Amazon.com: Jewish Subjects and Their Tribal Chieftains in Kurdistan (Jewish Identities in a Changing World) (9789004161900): Mordechai Zaken: Books. ISBN978-9004161900.
^Yahud Kurdistan wa-ru'as'uhum al-qabaliyun: Dirasa fi fan al-baqa'. Transl., Su'ad M. Khader; Reviewers: Abd al-Fatah Ali Yihya and Farast Mir'i; Published by the Center for Academic Research, Beirut, 2013; ? ? : ( ) / ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?. ? -;? ? ?; , 2013: ?;
^D. MORDIXZI ZAKIN, CULEKEKANY KURDISTAN, ERBIL, 2015; French into Kurmanji translation of an article by Moti Zaken, "Jews, Kurds and Arabs, between 1941 and 1952", by Dr. Amr Taher Ahmed Metîn n° 148, October 2006, p. 98-123.
^Juifs, Kurdes et Arabes, entre 1941 et 1952, Errance et Terre promise: Juifs, Kurdes, Assyro-Chaldéens, études kurdes, revue semestrielle de recherches, 2005: 7-43, translated by Sandrine Alexie.
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^al-akhbar (Nazareth, Arabic newspaper) 11 March 2016, front page article.