King’s philosemitism a legend

 With thanks: Ahuva

It’s the great legend peddled by the Jews about the King of Morocco: His Majesty saved them from the Nazis. In remarks at the Ben Zvi Institute in Jerusalem on 21 October 2014, historian Georges Bensoussan sets the record straight:

“It’s the great legend peddled by the Jews
of the Morocco: the King of the Morocco loved Jews and  protected
them under Vichy. Actually, it’s a thorny issue. I would say to you
in two words… Mohammed V was no self-declared philosemite …
his vizier (Mokrane) was a self-confessed, hard-line anti-Semite who had said
to Paul Baudouin, the Foreign Minister of Vichy: “We put Jews under pressure
every 30 years… at the end of 30 years, when they have made a fortune,
we take it all; “it’s been 28 years since you French have been (in
Morocco),  in two years it will be 30…”

Bensoussan claims : “Mohammed V opposed not a single Vichy decree – he signed them all. It is true that  he was forced to do so
by the French protectorate. It is true that the Bey of Tunis did the same, but with more reluctance. It is true that the resident-general in
Morocco, Nogués, was an anti-Semite and could have been egging the Sultan on.

“To say that he  protected
the Jews and put off deadlines for signing Vichy decrees,  is false. On the contrary – he took advantage of the arrival of the Vichy regime
in France to make an ancient Muslim demand, a demand that the French did not want to meet as long as they were a Republic…” First,  the Jews  must be relocated to the Medina (from the European city) and secondly, that the
Jews might only employ Muslim maids under 45. These two demands were made in much
of the Arab and Muslim world, in defiance of the French Republic. The Sultan
gets his way. Note that the demand concerning domestic servants under 45 is part of
the Nazi Nuremberg laws of 1935…”


Recording of George Bensoussan’s talk at the Ben Zvi Institute (French)

“On the other hand,
it’s true that the Sultan agreed to an audience with the Jews, but one realizes two
things when studying the chronology finely: he received them prior to
the Anglo-American landings. He told them: “you are as much my subjects as Muslims are”. After the Allied landings, however, he shows himself much
more  of a judeophile for simply political reasons.

He understood after his Casablanca meeting in January 1943 with Roosevelt, that to
obtain the independence of the Morocco, he should lean on the US for its backing. Otherwise,  France would not let go of Morocco. As the
good anti-Semite that he was, he had to show support of the Jews to  lean on the Americans because Washington is (in the pocket of) the Jews. “So if we
want to get closer to Roosevelt, we need to placate the Jewish community of Morocco, and therefore the Jews of the USA, who, in turn, will influence
Roosevelt’s decisions”.

The sultan of Morocco at a meeting with US president Roosevelt


  • Bataween, far be it from me to judge this issue with the little info that I have at this time. I just recall that there was one of those disputes that we have here in Israel and that Abitbol was involved. I remember reading an article of his in Ma`ariv on the subject. Some people did not want a monument to the king in Ashqelon and others did [inc. Shimon Peres]. You know how a historical issue can become a political affair. Especially in Israel but not only. But I don't recall most of the details

  • On the other hand Abitbol says (p372)that the sultan irritated the French authorities no end by promising at his audiences with Jews that neither they nor their assets would be touched. His attitude, say, Abitbol, was all the more remarkable considering he was surrounded by antisemitic advisors.

  • Michel Abitbol was involved in a dispute over this matter years ago. It seems that the "peace camp" wanted to believe in the king's benevolence at all costs because they so much wanted a good Arab father figure.

  • I have posted the full Bensoussan talk. He uses the phrase 'en bon antisemite qu'il est'

  • That Sultan Mohammed V signed every dahir that was presented to him is well known. He even signed what is known as the "Dahir berbere"in 1930, which relinquished the Arabs as seconds to Berbers with the Jews in the last position. Does that mean that he hated himself?
    What he opposed was not the edicts (though he stalled for the first racial law edict making them based on religion rather than race), but their application, just like he did for the "Dahir berbere" which after the signing gave rise to a popular opposition movement.

    In any case, there is too much to fisk and a solid rebuttal would be more appropriate only I am not sure that is exactly what was said at the lecture. I doubt very much Georges Bensoussan has said "as the good antisemite that he was".

    In short, it's a lot more complex than that.


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