Interfaither: Why do Moroccans treat Jews so well?

There is something disturbing about Yael Eckstein’s grovelling paen of praise for Morocco in The Times of Israel. Here is a country whose Jewish population is one percent of what it was in 1948. Yet for interfaither Eckstein, it is a shining example of Jews, Muslims and Christians coexisting in mutual respect! Why do you treat Jews so well? she keeps asking,  ignoring the fact that Jews have been threatened by pogromsmob violence and forced conversions and have abandoned their homes and businesses at times of tension.  Eckstein answers her own question: it is because of the king. The Jews – abetted by starry-eyed interfaithers –  have been instrumentalised as part of Moroccan foreign policy.   The restoration of synagogues and cemeteries is a small price to pay for US support of Morocco. But if the king goes, so do the Jews. What value is coexistence if it is only skin deep ? (With thanks: Boruch, Daniel, Lily, Imre). 

It just didn’t make sense. It seemed too good to be true. But as I quickly learned, it was just another day in mystical Morocco, a country that defies norms, defines tolerance and is home to a dwindling population of 2,500 Jews.
Though Morocco is a Muslim country, the bellboy at my hotel told me with a loving smile, Jews were actually in Morocco 600 years before Muslims—when they were sent out of Jerusalem following the destruction of the First Temple.
“This is your home,” the bellboy said, while pointing to a picture on the wall of the Atlas Mountains. “Your people were here before mine.”

 This respectful attitude was the prevailing sentiment in my communications with every Muslim I met throughout my stay during the end of Ramadan. Moroccans are genuine in their respect for the Jewish people, love for Moroccan Jews, and awe for the holy rabbis who walked their streets and are buried in the Jewish cemetery. I nearly cried when I saw how well the locals preserve the Jewish cemetery.
“Why do you treat the Jews so well?” I asked a Muslim teenager who works for an organization called Mimouna, whose members are Muslim youths passionate about spreading Jewish history. Mimouna made history by starting a Jewish studies program at a Moroccan Arab university, along with the Arab world’s only Holocaust education program.

“Why wouldn’t we treat them well?” he responded.
Indeed, it is illogical for local Muslims to suddenly turn on native Jews who have lived in their country for thousands of years. But we live in an illogical world. Morocco is one of the few places where Christians, Muslims and Jews coexist in peace and mutual respect. Why?
One night I attended a Ramadan fast-breaking event—organized by the inspiring local Chabad rabbi at an Orthodox synagogue. Dozens of Jews and Muslims gathered to celebrate. King Mohammed VI’s representative for the entire Marrakesh region also attended. He sent blessings from the king to the Jewish community and closed his eyes with intent—and answered “amen”—when the Chabad rabbi said the traditional Jewish prayer for kings.
Why are Jews in Morocco treated so well?

Yael Eckstein

Simply put, it’s because of the king. During World War II, when the Nazis asked the king of Morocco to put together a list of Jews in his country, he boldly answered, “We don’t have Jews, we have Moroccans,” and refused to comply (this is debatable – ed).
Today’s king, Mohammed VI, is the grandson of King Mohammed V, who protected his country’s 265,000 Jews. Like his grandfather, Mohammed VI believes Jews are just as Moroccan—and just as important—as Muslims, Christians and everyone else. If anyone in Morocco messes with Jews, they are messing with the king.

 Many project that in a decade, there won’t be any Jews left in Morocco. Most of the Moroccan grandmothers who read Psalms all day have moved to Israel. Moroccan Jewish youths have largely moved abroad. The remaining Jews are the gems of ancient times.

What legacy do Jews want to leave in Morocco? What pillars do Jews want to set up in Morocco that will carry on long after there are no Jews left?
After my four-day journey representing Christian and Jewish supporters of The Fellowship, I deeply understand why it’s so important that our organization partnered with Chabad and Mimouna to distribute thousands of food parcels from the country’s ancient synagogues to local Muslims for Ramadan.

 It is clear to me why we must set up a Jewish information center in central Marrakesh and make sure the Jewish cemetery will keep being preserved by local Muslims.
I realize how critical it is that we also continue to distribute food parcels to poor Jews on a monthly basis, so they aren’t neglected or looked at as beggars, but rather serve as a shining example of the fact that all Jews, Christians and Muslims are responsible to look out for one another.

In a country that lives on ancient spiritual stories of holy men and women who once walked its streets, this is our final opportunity to leave an eternal legacy on behalf of the millions of Moroccan Jews who came before us.
What legacy should we leave? That the Jewish people came in peace, left in peace and were only known for peace. This is what it means to live in the vision of God.

Read article in full


  • July 08, 2017

    Please reference my letter of June 29, 2017…above.

    All this talk about something that no longer exists!. The pre-Islamic aboriginal Jewish population of Morocco.. And the entire Mahgreb ! The time has come for meaningful action against THEM. They are perfect targets for long-overdue legitimate retribution. But within the laws and local regulations for keeping peace and order in the countries & at the locations chosen. That means THEIR émigré populations all over Europe and the Americas, in the public spaces abutting the "cites" "banlieux",Publically funded housing estates, and institutions THEY use.
    This constant legalistic, pedantic, nit-picking away at each-other, is in itself the behavior of dhimmis. The example of the deed, directed against the genocide
    minded enemies of Mankind, not just the Jewish People is the only thing that will liberate us.
    GOOGLE Norman L. Roth

  • This may have been the case once upon the time but today with mass immigrations since the 1960s they have politicians with a lot of access to every government practically in every european country:ministers, mayors, advisers, etc. as well as in Canada and the US.

  • Of course Moroccan Jews can and must have their own convictions, and nobody is debating the rights and wrongs of who is entitled to sovereignty over W. Sahara, but the minute that Moroccan World News carried that report about the Jews dancing meant that they were instrumentalising them for PR and political purposes.
    As I have said, the main thrust of Mrococo's Saharan policy is directed at US Jews, hence it is no surprise when these reports are picked up by the liberal Jewish medium The Forward.

  • The Fellowship distributes food to Muslims in Israel as well. As they do for Jews on Passover.

  • What I am saying is that portraying Moroccan Jews as passive pawns who are "used" for this or that purpose, meaning that they can't possibly have their own convictions or that they are incapable to reach informed decisions by themselves, is an insult. And this is constantly hammered on this site. To say it once is a mistake, to repeat it on and on is demonization.

    You may have not seen it, here are a few examples:

    "Moroccan Jews protest for occupied Sahara"
    Using the Jews as an instrument of foreign policy is not a new strategy for Morocco – it bolsters the legitimacy of the royal family in the eyes of the West. But rarely has the Moroccan media been so bold as to promote a Jewish 'protest' in favour of Morocco's claim to the occupation of western Sahara, as it did last month. If reports are correct, 500 Jews – or a quarter of the country's entire community – would have turned up to sing a patriotic song about the contested area at Mazagan's Mimouna celebration. The Forward reports:

    "Jews lend legitimacy to Moroccan claim"

    An online video showing Jews in Morocco dancing around a giant photograph of King Mohamed VI has been attracting over 450, 000 views in a single day. The Jews are singing a song about the 1975 Green March into Western Sahara and
    to lend legitimacy to the Moroccan claim to the disputed territory.

    Anyone who has studied Morocco History, knows that the Almoravids and the Almohads ruled over what is today the Western Sahara, and in other periods they were vassals of the Sultans of Morocco. It is a historical claim.

    So to call it an occupation is shooting ourselves on the foot, if you understand what I am saying.

    The Sahraouis of El Hiba (who declared himself sultan of Morocco) were the perpetrators of the Tritel of Meknes in 1911.

  • I have read this article about Eckstein's work in Morocco a few days ago at the JNS News. Then, I thought that's what she was doing is good, helping poor Moroccan families receive additional food and clothing. Who would be against this kind of social welfare outreach? No one, I think.

    However,when the narrative of Eckstein's social activism started to be associated the overarching Jewish/ Muslim naïve golden age ideology that we hear so often from these American groups such the famed Jewish Voice for Peace, it substantiated further my belief that these Americans are doing all this work for the wrong reasons and they are simply taken advantages by the dormant anti-Jewish Moroccan society. It could be any Arab country of that matter.

    I have had my share of exposing in this blog and others and, the deceptions the Moroccan government (with the blessing of the Monarchy and its foot soldiers elites)undertakes with its PR games and cultural announcements and events related to anything Moroccan Jewish, or Jewish Moroccan.

    Moroccan Jews (now still living in Morocco) have never been demonized in this blog. I am not sure what this demonization comes from. They are simply used as tokens by the powers that be, whether Jews are for or against Moroccan sovereignty of W. Sahara, it does not change how Jewish subjects are viewed. That's the perennial condition that the Jewish people have experienced throughout history, always used by extreme ideological tendencies and political ideologies and they always ending up being trampled on, and at times decimated.

    I thought the title of the Eckstein's article should change to: " Why Do Jews Treat Moroccans So Well" and not vice versa. It seems to me that's what Eckstein was doing. Why switch it? Dhimmi mentality, I guess as Norman suggested.

  • I should add that the Moroccan government is more interested in using the Jews in the US to influence American foreign policy on W. Sahara, NOT the Jews of Morocco, in the belief that US Jews control American foreign policy.
    Ms Eckstein and other starry-eyed interfaithers are symbolic of these American Jews.

  • Sylvia, you are misunderstanding me. I am not saying that Moroccan Jews are wrong to support the Moroccan king's stance on W. Sahara. I am not remotely demonising Moroccan Jews. It is the Moroccan government's policy to use the Jews to further its foreign policy objectives – that is all.
    Of course the history of Arab-Jewish relations is complex and it is not all bad, by any means. What is worrying is that the Jews still in Morocco walk a tightrope. If the king falls off, so do they.

  • Some people are incapable to grasp the ambivalent complexity of the relations between Moroccan Jews and their former country. To them, you are either good or bad, and should be either loved or hated.

    So yes, most Moroccan Jews are attached to their former country, and they do so with their eyes wide open, knowing it hasn't been a picnic. I myself lived through two pogroms by nationalists in my childhood.

    The reason lies in centuries of history, and for you Bataween to judge some two million M. Jews worldwide and shower them constantly and consistently with derogatory epithets post after post (delusive, instrumentalized, and more) without studying the larger historical context is sheer arrogance not to mention blatant ignorance.

    You think the old woman in her faraway development town who doesn't even know who is the current king has been "instrumentalized by interfaithers"?

    Bataween, I suggest you stop demonizing Moroccan Jews as a group on this site. It has become too obvious.

    We Jews support the Morocanity of the Sahara because -as I already told you – of our horrendous experience with Sahraouis in the first part of the 20th century but also because of the wider historical context, not because we're manipulated puppets in pursuit of some image.

  • Norman & Veronique, you have to realize that the people in the generations under 50 today are very likely very very ignorant of history. And that is in large part the fault of Western governments that have seen to it that secondary and university level education in their respective countries omits much that is important, especially if it puts Jews in a good light or Muslims/Arabs in a bad light. Likewise, intelligence agencies in various Western countries propagate a pro-Arab, pro-Muslim, and anti-Jewish, anti-Israel viewpoint or set of beliefs among those subject to their influence.

  • June 29, 2017

    I find Mme Eckstein's tearful "appreciation" for her favorite Moroccans,a perfect example of the dhimmi mentality….At its patronizing worst. Especially at this late stage in the Islamic world's fast-forward but atrocity-laden flush into the sewers of history. Because all THEY are doing is fawning theatrically for tourists like Mme. Eckstein,over the relics & earthly remains of a Jewish community that was aboriginal to North Africa MORE than a 1000 years before Islam ever appeared on the scene. There were once nearly a third of a million Jews in Morocco.
    They would have been exterminated after 1948 if the Israelis had lost the War of Independence. Who doesn't get that? In Europe Moroccan origin Muslims are the very epitome of the "primal materiel of the negative,in their openly spastic behavioral patterns. Ask the Dutch, the Swedes and the French about that. Or the Jews who were murdered by their offspring who live off the avails of their host society's self-destructive largesse in public housing projects. Like the one in which Ilan Halimi was tortured and murdered over a three week period: With his screams of agony heard by hundreds all over the building. For all practical purposes the entire Muslim population of the premises knew about the events first-hand….i.e. They were communally complicit in the atrocity.
    This kind of fawning over OUR potential exterminators is more farcical than anything else. Righteous retribution in one form or another,is all we'll ever manage with THEM…Wherever or Whenever we find the opportunity. Because any hope of reparations from Muslims is way outside their moral or ethical horizons.
    Sorry to have to say this Mme. Eckstein. I think you are a good-natured lady who really means well. BUT……..???

    GOOGLE: Norman L. Roth


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