Thursday, August 11, 2005

Morocco haemorrhages its Jews

Morocco's King Hassan II would not have been averse to "Israel entering the Arab League," reports an article of 3rd August 2005 in the Moroccan newspaper Le Journal-Hebdo on the exodus of the Jews from Morocco.

On the other hand the late Hassan distinguished between 'Jews' and 'Zionists' and advocated the return of Jews to Morocco.

The article is frank about the causes of the Jewish exodus. "After the Six-Day War of 1967, Morocco is no longer a land where Jewish and Muslim communities lived in harmony for centuries. Gone are the days during the Second World War when Sultan Mohamed V could declare that there were no Jews in Morocco, only Moroccans. Since the creation of the state of Israel, riots and anti-Jewish measures caused the 265,000-strong Jewish community to emigrate en masse. Between 1955 and 1957, 70,000 Moroccan Jews settled in Israel and 30,000 in France, Canada and the US.

"A ban on emigration into Israel from 1956 until 1963 briefly put the brakes on the exodus. When it was lifted in 1963, 100,000 left."

The report attributes the departure of the Jews to 'economic' reasons. Industrialisation impoverished many Jewish artisans. Simon Levy (who maintains a Jewish museum in Morocco) is quoted as saying that only a minority left for 'political' reasons.

However, the report does acknowledge that "post-independence nationalism wrecked age-old coexistence. The (ultra-nationalist) Istiqlal party played a not inconsiderable part with its sloganeering:'Give a dirham to kill a Jew'. As a result 12,000 registered to leave every year from 1961, with the tacit consent of the Moroccan authorities."

But the article cannot resist a dig at the Zionists, 'whose provocations made Jews leave' after 1967. It states that in 1976 there were only 17,000 Jews left. In fact numbers today are down to about 5,000.

Read article (in French) in full.

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