Jewish tourists stage Meknes ‘hillula’ for first time since 1960s

Morocco is reaping the tangible  benefits of ‘normalisation’ after Jewish tourists of Moroccan origin returned to the Jewish cemetery of Meknes for the first ‘hillula’ since the 1960s. The cemetery has been recently restored, one of 160 Jewish sites renovated by the King of Morocco. But the local community in Morocco itself stands at 1,500 Jews and there is little sign of its resurgence.  This AFP report has been widely picked up by the international media (With thanks: Leon):

The Mellah, or Jewish quarter, of Meknes

“This gathering is proof that you can turn a field of ruins into a place that keeps alive the memory of Moroccan Jews,” said Serge Berdugo, head of Morocco’s Jewish council.

Rabat’s normalization with Israel prompted only muted protests in Morocco despite widespread public support for the Palestinian cause.

Yousseph Israel, from the northern city of Tetouan, said Morocco “has always been an example of religious co-existence.” He is a judge at the Hebrew court in Casablanca; Jews in Morocco are allowed to have family cases settled under Jewish law.

Israelis were allowed to visit the kingdom even before relations were reestablished. Morocco is now hoping that newly-established air links with Israel will boost the number of Jewish visitors from around 60,000 per year to as many as 200,000.

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Postcript: Normalisation, as represented by the Abraham Accords, can work in both directions. Here’s a Royal Air Maroc travel agency ad. designed to encourage young Moroccans to make the trip to Tel Aviv. (With thanks: Ariel)

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