The truth about Morocco: fear made Jews leave

Penina Elbaz is now a successful psychologist in Montreal. As a child in Safi, a southern town in Morocco, she was exposed to bullying and persecution. But some Moroccan Jews choose to live in denial: the rich think they bought their security. Read her passionate plea about Jews displaced from Arab lands:

Penina Elbaz: many examples of Moroccan antisemitism

is about time we showed the world
the kind of persecution which Jews in Morocco suffered.
Because  some rich people
wanted to play at being ambassadors for
Morocco and talk about their
good life, they failed to
report, or denied,  the
persecutions endured by the majority,
especially those who had to live
in Muslim areas. Our lives were put at risk every day.

have so many examples: My elderly
aunt was pushed against the wall
by Muslims and they broke her
shoulder. My 14-year- old cousin was pushed against the wall
with a knife to her throat.
When the Zionist operatives came  to the homes of very
poor people, I would follow them to
see them off when they left for Israel.
They lived in dignity, poverty
and fear. They were humble
but  noble. The only possessions
they had and took with them were fragments of 
Torah scrolls in rusty
old tins. It was extremely
moving; those Zionists were
delegated by the Messiah. They saved
thousands of lives.

In Morocco
anti-Jewish sentiment and their local nationalism were rampant.
They wanted the public jobs held
by Jewish people, Jewish houses
and businesses. They succeeded
by inflicting fear and
persecution. Jewish people, rich or poor,  loved Morocco. They
cherished the land, the culture,
and their ancestors from this
land and their Saints buried in
Morocco. They would never want
to talk about the persecutions
out of pride, for fear that  people
would judge them.  The will to continue to
live with no fear made them
leave; however, they did take with them the
culture and  values.
They still have feasts celebrating the Saints,  the
henna parties; the kaftans are
still cherished.

I told some Jewish Moroccans my story of being held hostage in a Moroccan jail, I
was told that it would not have
happened to them because they had
private means of transport and protection. This ignorance
and denial are outrageous. It
does not allow people to tell
their life experiences of trauma
in Morocco. Among the people held
hostages with me were people of all types, 
from very poor to very rich.
When Muslim fanatics decide to
cause harm, they do not need to
check to which social class we

God for Israel.  Jews from Arab
countries found a country where they could 
live with full citizenship
rights. It is not because of the
creation of the State of Israel
that we were persecuted in Arab
countries, we were persecuted
because of  increasing Muslim
nationalism. It was just a
pretext to kick us out of our
homeland, Morocco. “

One Comment

  • the UN 1951 Refugee Convention adopted the following definition of "refugee" to apply to any person who (in Article 1.A.2):[2]

    owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.[2]


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