Tag: Morocco/Israel

Prayer for IDF heard in Moroccan synagogue

For the first time, the prayer for the Israel Defence Forces was heard in a synagogue in Rabat, in the presence of IDF soldiers from Israel, some of whom had Moroccan roots.  Led by defence minister Benny Gantz, the IDF representatives  were warmly welcomed  in Morocco, which is hoping for greater cooperation with Israel in intelligence and know-how. The Times of Israel reports (with thanks: Ariel):

Cantor Gabriel Deri recites prayers during a visit by Defense Minister Benny Gantz to the Talmud Torah synagogue in Rabat on November 25, 2021. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defence minister Benny Gantz and his IDF listen to Cantor Gabriel Deri recite prayers in a Rabat synagogue

RABAT, Morocco — It is not every day that you hear the prayer for the well-being of Israel Defense Forces soldiers in an Arab country, especially not when there are IDF soldiers in uniform standing alongside you.

But so it was on Thursday when Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited the Talmud Torah synagogue in Rabat, a once larger community that is now down to double-digits, unable to regularly put together the 10-man quorum needed to hold Orthodox prayers.

As it happens, two of the three IDF soldiers in uniform had Moroccan roots, as did a Knesset member who was part of the delegation, Shas’s Ya’akov Margi, who was born in Rabat, and so were a number of other people on the trip, including some journalists.

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Jewish COVID remains transferred from Morocco

It is a measure of how relations have improved between Morocco and  Israel  that the transfer of the bodies of seven Jews who died of coronavirus  could be arranged for reburial in Israel. The virus devastated the community, which accounted for 10 percent of deaths during the first month. JTA reports:

Popular musician Marcello Botbol, who died of coronavirus in Morocco

JTA — The bodies of seven Moroccan-Jewish COVID-19 fatalities were flown to Israel last week after being interred in a Casablanca Jewish cemetery more than a year ago.

The transfer was arranged by ZAKA, an Israeli volunteer rescue and recovery organization which focuses on ensuring Jewish burial rites for victims of terror and natural disasters, as well as the Casablanca Chevra Kadisha, a local Jewish burial society.

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Moroccan-Israeli stabbed to death in Tangiers

 Update: Times of Israel says that the victim was giving food to a homeless person when he was stabbed. The authorities say the assassin’s motive is ‘ not clear’.
A Moroccan-Israeli was stabbed to death in the city of Tangiers  on 25 August 2021. Marco Rebibo, 54,  had decided to leave Israel and re-settle in Morocco where he opened a kosher restaurant.
Marco Rebibo: moved to Morocco from Israel

 

The stabbing took place at Rebibo’s restaurant, the Cercle de l’Alliance,  in Tangiers.  According to Dernières infos d’Algerie  the 36-year-old assassin was sporting a Palestinian flag. He  was arrested by the Moroccan security forces, and an inquiry into the murder opened.
An ambulance arriving at the scene of the murder
The incident comes as an embarrassment to Morocco, which has recently signed the Abraham Accords with Israel. It shows that normalisation with Israel is a matter of controversy. The Moroccan press has not specified the victim’s Israeli nationality, stating only that he was Jewish. According to the Algerian medium DIA,  the murder has created a climate of fear among Jewish hotel and restaurant owners. The police has reinforced security around Jewish sites.

Israel foreign minister makes first visit to Morocco

It was a historic moment: an Israeli foreign minister has made an official visit to Morocco and signed four agreements. Yair Lapid pledged that Israel and Morocco would have embassies within two months, Morocco World News reports:

Yair Lapid cutting the ribbon as he inaugurates the Israel liaison office in Rabat

CASABLANCA, Morocco — Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Thursday that Israel and Morocco would upgrade their relations to full diplomatic ties and open embassies in each others’ countries within two months.

Speaking at a press conference in Casablanca, where he met with members of the Jewish community on the second day of his historic trip to Morocco — the first by an Israeli minister since the country’s agreed to normalize relations last year — Lapid said that Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita is expected to be aboard the first Royal Air Maroc flight from Morocco to Israel in either October or early November, in order to open the Moroccan Embassy in Tel Aviv.

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BICOM Backgrounder

 

Morocco is not rushing towards normalisation with Israel

It is possible that since this Haaretz piece by Zvi Barel was published  in June the Israeli emissary David Govrin has found the right offices for the Israeli mission in Rabat. But the euphoria greeting the first commercial flights from Tel Aviv to Marrakesh should not obscure the fact that Morocco is reluctant to open a fully-fledged embassy in Israel.  While Morocco will welcome Israeli tourists, anti-normalisation is a powerful force.

David Govrin, Israel’s head of mission (Photo: Environmental Protection Ministry)

It’s not fun to be the official emissary of Israel in Morocco. The veteran diplomat David Govrin, who is head of the mission, has been having a hard time finding an appropriate place for its offices. Six months after he was appointed to the job, the mission is still operating out of a hotel in the capital of Rabat.

Landlords have refused to rent it space in the kind of residential building Govrin is looking for. The government of Morocco has proposed a building far from the center of the city where Israel used to have an office, but Israel rejected the offer, saying it wanted the mission to be in the diplomatic quarter with other embassies, on the assumption that the mission will one day become a full-fledged embassy.

On Facebook and Twitter, there are accounts called “Get rid of the Israeli emissary.” Pictures of the Temple Mount adorn Twitter accounts, one of which declares “normalization is treason and an unforgivable crime. To our great misfortune, our country has chosen to normalize ties with murderers for personal reasons.”

Visits to Israel by Moroccan cabinet ministers that had been planned before the violence in Jerusalem and the Gaza fighting have been postponed or canceled. Local soccer teams were directed to cancel games with Israeli teams and last month protests were staged amid chants, “The nation wants to end normalization.”

Bilateral trade and other agreements between companies and institutions are being implemented at a snail’s pace, which Israeli officials believe is intentional on Morocco’s part.

“Morocco is a rising economic star in need of Israeli technology, and Israeli companies have a lot to offer. But it seems that politics is charging a price. The Moroccan government isn’t rushing to turn normalization agreements that were signed last December into fact,” an official handling the trade agreements told Haaretz.

Direct flights between the two countries are scheduled to begin in July, but the Israeli carrier Israir still doesn’t know how many weekly flights it will be allowed to fly. An average of about 50,000 Israeli tourists visit Morocco every year, and the Moroccan Tourism Ministry hopes the number will quadruple. But even if that target is reached, Israelis will only account for 1.5% of Morocco’s total tourist arrivals before the coronavirus.

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