Using the Jews as an instrument of foreign policy is not a new strategy for Morocco - it bolsters the legitimacy of the royal family in the eyes of the West. But rarely has the Moroccan media been so bold as to promote a Jewish 'protest' in favour of Morocco's claim to the occupation of western Sahara, as it did last month. If reports are correct, 500 Jews - or a quarter of the country's entire community - would have turned up to sing a patriotic song about the contested area at Mazagan's Mimouna celebration. The Forward reports:
Preparing for the Mimouna (photo: DR)
) — Several hundred Moroccan Jews protested against U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s characterization of Western Sahara as
occupied by the North African kingdom.
The April 30 protest in Mazagan, 120 miles southwest of Rabat, was
part of Mimouna, a traditional North African Jewish celebration held the
day after Passover, and it featured group singing of Laayouna Ainiya, a
Moroccan patriotic song from the 1970s about the contested area, the
Assabah daily reported last week.
Last month, Ban angered Moroccan authorities when he
they were “occupying” the Western Sahara after they ordered the
expulsion of 80 staffers from the United Nations Mission for the
Referendum in Western Sahara
The U.N. General Assembly
that view in 1979, declaring Morocco an occupying force in the former
Spanish colony and affirming the “inalienable right of the people of
Western Sahara” to independence. But Morocco, which in recent years has
come under increasing pressure to allow self-rule in the area, claims it
as part of its territory.
Sam Ben Chetrit, president of the World Federation of Moroccan Jewry,
told JTA on Friday that while he is not familiar with the details of
the gathering at Mazagan, “it is true that Moroccan Jewry in the kingdom
and outside stand united in defense of Morocco’s claim on Sahara, and
against those who try to portray Morocco as a foreign occupier in its
Ben Chetrit, who lives in Israel but travels to Morocco frequently,
said this support is part “of the Jewish People’s gratitude to Morocco’s
royal house, government and people, who have done more than any other
nation in the Middle East and many nations elsewhere to preserve Jewish
heritage and protect Jewish citizens.”