The best of enemies, through Moroccan eyes

Poster for Free Men, a film about Jews saved by Muslims in wartime France

“One could be an Arab Jew until the 1960s,” opines an interviewee in this Jeune Afrique article, but the Arab-Israeli conflict has made such an identity impossible. This interesting piece explores the pressures against ‘normalisation’ with Israel in the Maghreb, while the Moroccan Crown is busy restoring the country’s Jewish heritage. Jews and Arabs are ‘the best of enemies'(with thanks: Sylvia):


 On September 30, Yad Vashem announced that an Egyptian doctorhad joined the list of Righteous Among the Nations.
Mohamed Helmy and his German wife, Frieda Szturmann, were honored
posthumously for saving a Jewish family from deportation in 1941 in

A first for an Arab, even if other files are being processed by Yad
Vashem, including that of Kaddour Benghabrit,  rector of the Mosque of Paris
under the Occupation, about which a film (Free Men, Ferroukhi , 2011) and a book (The Yellow Star and Crescent, Mohammed Aïssaoui, 2012) have recently been made.

A few weeks after Yad Vashem’s announcement, the members of the family
of Mohamed Helmy, who died in 1982, said they refused to honor the
Israeli institution.

“If another country had honored Helmy, we would have been honored. He
treated his patients regardless of nationality, race or religion,” said
Mervat Hassan, a distant descendant.

The memorial’s spokesman  regretted “that the political views
seem to overshadow human considerations, hoping that they will
eventually prevail.”


The case speaks for itself. In relations between Jews and Muslims, it seems that the mere mention ‘of Israel undermines any attempt at settlement.
Even Morocco, a country in North Africa had the largest Jewish
community in the aftermath of World War II (250,000 in 1947, a total of 8
million inhabitants), is embarrassed by the relationship with the
Hebrew state.

Recently, two bills have landed on the table of the House of
Representatives to in almost identical terms to “criminalize
normalization with the Israeli entity.”

Read article in full (French)


  • Sultana: no doubt Nasser was inspired by Hassan Al Bana's scrawlings for the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • My family and I were saved by our Arab bawab (hall porter)when a mad mass of men come into our building looking for YAHOUD.
    Nasser was the first to fill their minds with hatred.May he turn over in his tomb!


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