Departing and returning to Morocco

 Why did Jews leave Morocco and how does it feel to return? A new film, ‘Midnight Orchestra’ examines the reasons why Jews left Morocco, and follows a man’s return to his country of birth. A new book (below), Return to Casablanca, by Israeli anthropologist Dr Andre Levy looks at the changing relationship between Moroccan Jews and Muslims.

Slowly,
through the film, he discovers why his father, a famous musician, made
his family leave the country for Israel decades before.

The
director of “Midnight Orchestra,” Jérôme Cohen-Olivar, said the
fictitious family’s departure reflects a real decision that many
Moroccan Jews made between the 1950s and 1970s when Arab-Israeli
tensions flared.

“At the peak of the community, I think it was
around a quarter of a million, 250,000 Jews in Morocco, which is a lot
if you count the total Jewish population – the world Jewish population,”
said Cohen-Olivar, speaking by phone from Morocco.

“Right now
there are about 2,000 Jews left in Morocco, which is basically nothing,”
Cohen-Olivar said. “So I just ask myself this question: ‘Why?’ It’s as
simple as that. So that was the springboard of my story was just,
‘Why? Why did these people leave?'”

Read article in full

In his new book Return to Casablanca, anthropologist Dr.
André Levy assesses the impact of this massive emigration on those Jews
who decided to stay in his native Morocco. Dr. Levy is a senior lecturer
at BGU’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Flag_of_Morocco_hexagram.svg

A
Moroccan flag used in the early 20th century featured a star of David,
harking back to a time when Morocco’s Jews were numerous.

The book provides personal insights into the effects of the
diminished Moroccan Jewish community’s establishment of “spatial
divisions of spheres in order to obtain better control of interactions
with Muslims.”

Dr. Levy posits that as Israel gained more and more Moroccan Jews
into its citizenry, the wall between Muslim and Jewish Moroccans gained
more and more bricks. This concept — what Dr. Levy calls “contraction” —
depicts the way that modern Moroccan Jews deal with the ramifications
of their demographic dwindling.

Read article in full (via JIMENA)

Reaching across cultures (The Justice)

2 Comments

  • What?? Hexagram not Jewish??? In the mind of Moroccans,of course. It is "now" socially constructed as Jewish and there is nothing one can do to untangle this definition. Maybe it was not defined as such in the past. I do not know. One can certainly have an issue see it otherwise in the Israeli flag.

    I am reminded of W.E. Thomas dictum: "When definitions as defined as real, they are real in the consequences." And this is important, regardless of definitions being true or false. Go tell the uneducated (and the stubbornly leftists, I might add) that the Zionism is not racism or that Jewish refugees from Arab lands are “TRULY” refugees.

    Anyway, let's get out from the social construction of reality theme. According to my upbringing and experiences in the dusty plains and mountains of Morocco and Algeria, Arabs there called the hexagram “the Seal of Solomon”. Well, that's says it all, David or Solomon… Humm!! and remember these historical figures are also socially constructed (defined) as Muslims in the eyes of Arabs. But we all know how the game of truth or false plays out.

    Reply
  • I don't think that the six-pointed star or hexagram was originally a Jewish symbol, not especially Jewish anyhow. I once had a Moroccan coin which I bought for my collection with the 6-pointed star. I don't believe that it had any connection to the Jews in the minds of the Moroccan officials who put it on the coin.

    Reply

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