BBC edits out true history of Jews in Morocco

The  23 April edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ included an item (from 06:18 here) by travel writer Elizabeth Gowing relating to the former Jewish population of Morocco. Israel was blamed for deteriorating relations between Arabs and Jews, despite the outbreak of pogroms before 1948 and widespread popular antisemitism. CAMERA UK has this critique:

Sol Hatchuel, the Jewish beauty who chose martyrdom rather than conversion to Islam in 1834

Gowing’s account told listeners of:

“…the huge diaspora of Jews of Moroccan heritage of whom there are nearly half a million in Israel. At one point Essaouira’s Jews were a majority in the town. But families started to leave in the 1950s and there are now none left living permanently here.”

Clearly those accounts do very little indeed to inform listeners why Morocco’s Jewish population plummeted from some 265,000 to only a couple of thousand and the claim that the reason was worsening relations “between the Arab world and Israel” whitewashes other no less important factors.

As we have had cause to note in the past when the BBC has similarly promoted narratives about Jews living harmoniously in Arab lands until Zionism and Israel came along:

“The Jewish community in Morocco had suffered periodic pogroms and forced conversions throughout history, including in the 18th and 19th centuries and in the early 20th century tens of Jewish families from Morocco had already emigrated to what was at the time Ottoman ruled Palestine. One event which was still within living memory at the time when the significant exodus of Jews from Morocco began was the pogrom in Fez in 1912. During World War Two, Morocco – at the time a French protectorate – came under pro-Nazi Vichy rule and Jews were subjected to anti-Jewish legislation.

Following a serious episode of anti-Jewish violence in Oujda and Jerada in June 1948, thousands of Jews emigrated. As Morocco moved towards independence in late 1955, new fears arose within the Jewish community and indeed between 1956 and 1961 Moroccan Jews were prohibited from emigrating to Israel. In the three years following the lifting of that ban, a further 80,000 Jews left Morocco for Israel.”

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