Friday, August 14, 2009

Only 12 % Moroccan Muslims feel 'close' to Jews

Despite Morocco's long symbiosis with the Jews, the average Moroccan identifies more closely with an Afghan Muslim than a Moroccan Jew. This is one of the findings in Paul Vermeren's new book, Le Maroc de Mohammed Vl: La transition inachevee (Editions la Decouverte) summarised in Information Juive (July/August 2009). Here is a potted translation:

Morocco is something of an exception in the Arab world. It's got the largest Jewish community - 2,500 ( which is not saying much when you consider it once had 260,000 - ed). It attracts 5,000 Israeli-Moroccan visitors every year. The Moroccans are the second biggest community in Israel - after the Russians. In spite of Morocco's passionate support for the Palestinian cause, Morocco has always kept channels open to Israel. The liaison office was closed in 2000 due to the intifada, but in 2003, Mohammed Vl received the Israeli foreign minister.

Morocco knows that it suffered a tremendous loss with the rapid exodus of this hardworking but mostly very poor population. Seventy percent went to Israel, with the remainder moving to France, Canada and the US. The country is proud of its Jewish sons 'done good' abroad, be it an Israeli minister or an artist like the stand-up comic Gad Elmaleh.

The problem for Morocco's Jews has been the constant conflation in Muslim minds of 'Jew' with 'Zionist' and 'Israeli'. This confusion caused a profound unease, and hastened the departure of young Jews. They were off as soon as they had their school-leaving certificate in their pockets. Much blame lies with antisemitic textbooks, but no-one dares turn the clock back.

Several groups have tried to reverse this state of affairs - a handful of Jewish anti-Zionist and Marxist intellectuals (A. Serfaty, E Amrane El Maleh, Sion Assidon, Simon Levy) stayed on in Morocco and have been especially active. Another group of Moroccan-born French interface between the palace, business interests abroad and western allies like France,the US and Israel.

Moroccan intellectuals such as Mohammed Kenbib, Mohammed Hatmi and Jamaa Baida, together with Hebrew language specialists in Arabic studies departments and journalists, try to keep the memory of a shared past alive. Tel Quel (November 2008) published a supplement called 'The Jew within us: at the heart of Moroccan identity'.

But a survey on religious attitudes in 2007 showed the limitations of such an approach: 63 percent of all Moroccans questioned felt closer to a Muslim Afghan than to a Moroccan Jew (12 percent). The exodus of the Jews from towns and villages has given way to an antisemitism largely fed by anti-Israeli feeling. If the younger generation only rediscovered the forgotten Jewish element of their national identity might the dam be shored up - assuming that the state is willing to incorporate it in its school textbooks and syllabi.

Point of No Return received this moving comment from Mohammed:

'I hate hatred so much'

"Even though I was only 8 years old in 1962, I was absolutely horrified and shocked when my Moroccan mate Jabran's mum told me and her son that she wished that we both grew up to become soldiers and kill 10 Jews each.

"I lived in Fes (Morocco) for 7 years since 1957. My parents were Iraqi University lecturers training new teachers for the newly independent Morocco.

"I was shocked by the hate that Jabran's mum had for people just because they had the "wrong" religion.

"What surprised me more was the acceptance and approval expressed by Jabran to his mum's opinion which became clear to me when I questioned him later to see if he agreed with what she had to say. He said "off course he would!" and "what a silly question?".

"I initially felt a bit guilty as I did not conform and perhaps I should have also approved. But I just couldn't.

"I knew at the time a couple of Moroccan Jewish children and they were quite decent and normal and did not seem to me that they deserved to be killed at all.

"My mother’s obstetrician was Jewish (Dr Migwar) and my father said at the time that he would not trust anyone else to circumcise my newly born brother.

"I am glad that I grew up to find that my disapproval with Jabran's mum was right.

"I can envisage that there may also be some Western or Israeli people who similarly feel that "nuking the bloody Arabs or Moslems" was a wonderful idea.

"I'm afraid some of those misinformed and brainwashed people from both sides may end up carrying arms and would not feel guilty to kill innocent people on the other side.

"How many lives and livelihoods have been destroyed in the name of religion over the millennia? John Lennon was spot on when imagining peaceful world without religion.

"I just hate hatred so much.

"Peace be upon everyone."


Mohammed

9 comments:

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

If the summary here is correct, then Vermeren, as well as the Moroccan Jewish Communists --whose views are standard issue for Jewish Communists-- are ignorant of or deliberately suppress two important facts:
1) the Jews were historically and traditionally oppressed, humiliated, etc in Morocco as elsewhere in the Dar al-Islam, the Muslim domain.

2) the conflation of local, Moroccan Jews with Zionists and Israelis is standard Islamic belief, which views all Jews as one body, indeed as one evil, scheming, enemy body, unchanged since the time when Jews in Medina supposedly betrayed Muhammad. An Arabic saying has it that Kulli kufar millatun wahidun [all unbelievers are one nation; that is, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, are one nation hostile to Islam].

Moreover, the Jews too see themselves as part of a larger Jewish people and not merely "Moroccans of the Mosaic faith" or suchlike, on the model of "Germans of the Mosaic faith."
The Jewish Communists in Morocco are no doubt clever folk but they cannot understand --because of their faith in crackpot materialism-- realities that are not economic in origin. They obviously do not understand or do not want to understand the deep prejudices against Jews embodied in traditional Islamic teachings/beliefs, etc. Many social phenomena cannot be explained by Marxist/Leninist/Stalinist materialism or "dialectical materialism" or historical materialism, which is not to say that economic factors and aspects and phenomena are not present. After all, the traditional role of dhimmis --including Jews in Morocco-- was inter alia to pay tribute, jizya, to the Islamic state.

Now just how all this prejudice and hate can be changed by operating a few superficial educational programs or changes in curriculum when Islam itself is imbued with Judeophobia, as is traditional Christianity --and I would add most of traditional Leftist ideology-- is not clear.
Maybe if we all hold hands and sing Kumbaya, then the tooth fairy will make us all love each other perpetually.

On the other hand, it may be good that some Muslim intellectuals --like those around Tel Quel-- may want a rapprochement with Jews, but if it's only with ex-Moroccan Jews and not with Jews as such and with Israel then it cannot help bring peace but would seem more to be a trick to divide Jews.

Suzanne said...

I'm sorry for being pessimistic. But if Israel did not exist, then Jews would have been blamed for something else.

The hatred, or if hatred is absent the lack of interest, has a deeper meaning, I'm afraid.

Fortunately the king of Morocco seems to be a guy who is alright and not some lunatic. At least some protection...

Mohammed said...

Even that I was only 8 years old in 1962, I was absolutely horrified and shocked when my Moroccan mate Jabran's mum told me and her son that she wished that we both grew up to become soldiers and kill 10 Jews each.

I lived in Fes (Morocco) for 7 years since 1957. My parents were Iraqi University lecturers training new teachers for the newly independent Morocco.

I was shocked by the hate that Jabran's mum had for people just because they had the "wrong" religion.

What surprised me more was the acceptance and approval expressed by Jabran to his mum's opinion which became clear to me when I questioned him later to see if he agreed with what she had to say. He said "off course he would!" and "what a silly question?".

I initially felt in a bit guilty as I did not conform and perhaps I should have also approved. But I just couldn't.

I knew at the time a couple of Moroccan Jewish children and they were quite decent and normal and did not seem to me that they deserved to be killed at all.

My mother’s obstetrician was Jewish (Dr Migwar) and my father said at the time that he would not trust anyone else to circumcise my newly born brother.

I am glad that I grew up to find that my disapproval with Jabran's mum was right.

I can envisage that there may also be some Western or Israeli people who similarly feel that "nuking the bloody Arabs or Moslems" was a wonderful idea.

I'm afraid some of those misinformed and brainwashed people from both sides may end up carrying arms and would not feel guilty to kill innocent people on the other side.

How many lives and livelihoods have been destroyed in the name of religion over the millennia? John Lennon was spot on when imagining peaceful world without religion.

I just hate hatred so much.

Peace be upon everyone.

Regards

Mohammed

Anonymous said...

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iP26-4LrvdzLVP0wMnl03TAdandA

bh

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Mohammed, I really think it's being simplistic to blame all wars on "religion," as you seem to do.

But I would ask you to consider how major world powers, including the UK and the EU as a collective body promote the war between Israel and the Arabs. There was even a German girl in the German Green Party who sat for one term in the Euro parliament at Strasbourg [forget her name, sorry; was it Schroeder?] who pointed out that much EU money was going to encourage the Palestinian Authority/PLO/Fatah in its war on Israel. Chris Patten, onetime EU commissioner, did not want to admit this problem.

Anyhow, Mohammed, since you know French, you might look up the books of the Arab Marxist writer, Abdel-Razek Abdel-Kader, who makes the point that the outside great powers have kept the Arab-Israeli conflict going.

--Le Conflit Judeo-Arabe
--Le Moyen Orient a la Veille d'un tournant

It's funny that Abdel-Kader's books have never been translated into English, as far as I know. But one book was translated into Spanish and Italian.

Suzanne said...

Mohammed, thank you for this inspiring comment. I too hate hatred very much. I do hate though. But never people, only their behavior. :)

BTW PONR:
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3763447,00.html

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Here are some remarks of Ilke Schroeder, a German Green Party delegate to the Euro parliament in Strasbourg. It seems that her party was disappointed with her embarassingly truthful remarks about EU funding for terrorism. Here are her words [h/t Zionism-Aliyah blog]:

The Europeans supported the Palestinian Authority with the aim of becoming its main sponsor, and through this, challenge the U.S. and present themselves as the future global power. Therefore, the Al-Aksa Intifada should be understood as a proxy war between Europe and the United States.

It is an open secret within the European Parliament that EU aid to the Palestinian Authority has not been spent correctly. The European Parliament does not intend to verify whether European taxpayers' money could have been used to finance anti-Semitic murderous attacks. Unfortunately, this fits well with European policy in this area.


If Mohammed and the rest of us want to foreclose future wars between Israel and Arabs, which would be harmful to both peoples, we ought to consider doing something about EU funding.

Anonymous said...

a tongue in cheek article about property restitution.

http://southjerusalem.com/2009/08/my-big-fat-iraqi-hummus-joint-necessary-stories-from-the-jerusalem-report/#more-1499

bh

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

off topic

bataween, here's an article about a new "peace plan" which involves compensation to Arabs but --apparently-- not to Jews. However, the comments thread shows a lot of Jewish anger about this omission.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3763447,00.html