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12

FRIDAY

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Activists are always looking for the most oppressed people. They do it out of desperate kindness, perhaps. For the grants, perhaps. But certainly so they can run into buddies at coffee shops and exhult in their goodness, like dopey-eyed Joy from Happiness. Or, maybe, as one pal said of her current clerical gig for the Kurds: “They don’t even have a country.” No one plays this game better than members of my Jewish faith. And scholar Rick Gold has stumbled onto a doozy: Muslims living in Timbuktu who can trace their ancestry back to Jewish settlers from the 16th century. The “Jews of Timbuktu” are collecting documents produced by their ancestors and preserving Jewish cemeteries. Gold says they have been bitten by their efforts: “They have a lot of courage because the Muslim authorities are hostile to them. They haven’t practiced Judaism for 500 years, but still they are called, negatively, ‘the Jews.’” See Gold make his case at 8 p.m. at the British School, 4715 16th St. NW. Free. (202) 686-1881. (Jason Cherkis)