A Critique of the Reimagining of the Moroccan Jewish history by Amir Oren

By Irina Tsukerman and Anis El Okbani

This article is in response to Amir Oren’s recent piece “C’est Magnifique, Mais C’est Ne Le Pas La Pais”.

“This is neither an idealistic reading of history, nor a tearfully sentimental and pessimistic vision of the past, but one that is concerned with an uncompromising reading of the history of Morocco and its Jewish aspect.” We see self-righteous patronizing disclaimers of this sort of contemporary historians striving to show their political correctness in attacking Morocco for its complicated relationship with its Jewish community.

Not you, too, Amir Oren. We have enough concerns, which go as far as various threats, with Islamist leaders, in power in the Arab-Muslim world, in the Moroccan government, in Qatar, in Iran, Turkey, Tunisia … and their fellow traveler, such as Hizballah and its acolyte the separatist Polisario, with the anti-Semites in France etc. ; the list is long.

Four reasons for this friendly update:
And a note: you are not in the aforementioned category of such analysts, journalists, and self-styled experts looking to project contemporary values on history, but we have noted some inaccuracies in your excellent article.

  1. First, the problem is in the name David Dadonn and not what you wrote. Let’s look at the oficial document. Our fellow citizen, born in Marrakech, will certainly remember the circumstances of this document. It took a lot of courage, bordering on suicide to get this document from David Dadonn, the head of the liaison office. Could the nature of the document be a visa or an official invitation from the Israeli government?
  2. We confirm your observation: “he headed the Israeli delegation to Rabat, as de facto ambassador to Morocco”. But there is more! The duty to exercise discretion does not allow us to say more and above all so as not to facilitate the violent reaction, at this time, of extremists and Islamists against our Jewish fellow citizens in Morocco and against the pro-normalization pacifists with Israel. Morocco is provisionally hostage to a government led by Islamist (and his frontally anti-normalization PJD party) Saad Dine El Otmani.
  3. There are also problems with the following part of the article, starting with “These North African countries constitute the Maghreb, the western part of the Arab world (also Libya). Israel was interested in it especially in Morocco, because of the Jewish communities there, dating back to the last years of French colonial rule, ”deserves a correction.

Moroccan Judaism in Morocco is a millennial presence, rather than a remnant of French colonial migration. The Jewish Amazigh tribes have been part of Morocco’s historic makeup since between 2500 and 3000 years ago; Spanish Jews, exiled from their country, found a refuge in Morocco in 1492.

Worth noting is the 2011 Constitution which states in its preamble the place and legitimacy of Judaism in the history of Morocco, alongside its Arab and Amazigh identities.

We let the accomplishments of our fellow Jews testify to that effect: one is a member of the community in Morocco and the other one is a member of the diaspora in the USA.

Morocco: “I am 3000 years old, as a Moroccan Jew”
André Azoulay, Moroccan citizen of Essaouira and Senior Counsel to King Mohamed VI leads by example of the impact a Moroccan of Jewish faith can achieve in his own right.

David Levy Yulee:, the first elected representative of Jewish faith in US history, a Senator, and one of the drafters of the 1st American Constitution, his father had left Essaouira (Morocco) at the beginning of the 19th century is a great illustration of Moroccan Jewish success abroad.

And then, there is the representation of Morocco in the annals of the Jewish communal life:
The work “The history of Fez, of Ben Denan” (without the intention of complicating the problem of names) is a reference which sheds light on the history of the kingdom and its Jews, from the fall of the pomegranate to ‘”the reign of Sultan Moulay Slimane.”
Since then, and to this day, the history of Moroccan Jews is well established: they are influential in the USA, in power in Israel, close to power and to the king in Morocco etc …
The issue is not with the King, not with the Makhzen, and not with the country.
What they are asking for is continued respect for their constitutional and human rights by the Moroccan Islamist government, without incitement in the media, indoctrination in schools and mosques, and false equivocation between their religion and ethnicity and Middle East politics.

Finally, there is a fourth surprising reason for our dissent with the article: “For Netanyahu, who ignores Morocco and Mauritania and all the other fruits of Oslo…”.
This statement, without qualification, sounds like an accusation to Netanyahu and his ministers of Moroccan origin. It can be exploited by the enemies of Israel. The Islamists have a testimony which comforts them in their conviction and anti-normalization ideology.

As a reminder: The new government of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has one particularity: the presence of 10 ministers of Moroccan origin out of a total of 34, an unprecedented figure.
Netanyahu and his ministers will appreciate this serious observation.
Our fellow Moroccan Jews, beyond their loyalty to their country, Israel, have our trust for their love and support for the sacred causes of their country of origin, Morocco. Take note accordingly.