The New York Times has devoted a remarkable opinion piece highlighting the efforts of King Mohammed VI to revive the ancient Jewish heritage in Morocco, citing dozens of restored sites, schools, and synagogues that reflect the culture of tolerance and cohabitation having prevailed for centuries in the Kingdom.
The article explains that in Tangiers, Fez, Casablanca, Marrakech and many villages of the Kingdom, local authorities cleaned and inventoried more than 160 Jewish cemeteries and restored the original names of the Jewish neighborhoods, the Mellahs, testifying to this coexistence between Jews and Muslims.
Morocco’s 2011 Constitution confirms the plural identity of Morocco, whose Hebraic component has enriched its history, adds the New York Times which speaks of “The Moroccan Exception in the Arab world.”
As first stated by researcher Einat Levi on her article in Ynet on October 2018, it’s likely that King Mohammed VI ordered the inclusion of Holocaust studies in Morocco’s educational system, an initiative that has been widely welcomed by the Moroccan Jewish diaspora all over the world.
Back in 2011, Haaretz reported that a group of Muslim Moroccan students working to preserve Judaism, organized one of the first conferences in the Arab world to commemorate the Holocaust at Al Akhawayn University.
Although the Holocaust is not yet part of the Moroccan curriculums, it is entirely possible that we will see it soon. Hence, Morocco’s attitude towards the Holocaust is another sign of the special relationship between Muslims and Jews in Morocco and the place that Judaism enjoys in this country.
For Yaëlle Azagury and Anouar Majid, the secret of this interest of Morocco for a whole part of its history while there remain today only 2,500 Jews in the kingdom, against some 240,000 in the 1940s, has to do with the will of Morocco to remind its citizen and the entire world of the importance of the country’s Jewish heritage.
“While Judaism in the Middle East and North Africa often evokes images of hostility, in Morocco, that picture isn’t quite accurate.”
The authors emphasized that while Judaism in the Middle East and North Africa often evokes images of hostility, in Morocco, that picture isn’t quite accurate. As Yaelle mentions it; The kingdom’s embrace of Jewish heritage is a potent reminder of the Jews’ rightful place in Morocco’s history, despite some strained chapters.
All the efforts mentioned above are very encouraging and ones that are worth saluting. Nonetheless, there is indeed much that remains to be done not only to remind everyone of the Jewish heritage but leveraging it as an important vehicle for socio-economic growth involving the Moroccan Jewish diaspora around the world.