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July 10, 2008

AP Again Idealizes History of Moroccan Jews

Two years ago, the Associated Press ran a story about Moroccan Jews that relayed a glowing account of Jewish-Arab relations in Morocco. There was no mention of the murderous pogroms and discrimination faced by the community, and the only hint at adversity sometimes endured by Jews in Morocco was a passing reference to "some street protests."

Two days ago, a new AP story discussed Jewish-Arab relations in Morocco. In this latest story, the "some street protests" whitewash was replaced with a marginally more accurate reference to "riots," as well as "fears of living in an Arab state and sporadic discrimination."

Still, this description falls short of fairly conveying, for example, that

bloody riots broke out in June 1948 against the Jews in Oujda and Djerada in Morocco. In Oujda, within three hours, five Jews had been killed, 30 seriously injured, shops and homes sacked. In Djerada, the Jewish population of 100 suffered 39 deaths and 30 severely wounded, the remainder less seriously.

Nor is there any sense that, as one observer put it, "in disputes with Moslems, or on civil commercial, and criminal issues among themselves, Jews are almost entirely subject to Islamic courts. ... [E]ven under the best of circumstances [the courts] regard Jewish litigants as unclean, inferior beings."

For CAMERA's comments about the first AP story, see here. For CAMERA's analysis of a similar whitewash of Iraqi Jewish history, see here.

Posted by GI at July 10, 2008 11:34 AM


Perhaps things were not as rosy as some articles may suggest but let's remember that Berber Morocco, Andalusia and later Fes and northern Morocco were certainly some of the most tolerant places in the world for Jews. Many in the US like to portray the Arab-Israeli conflict as being centuries old but that is simply false. Morocco was one of the most tolerant places in history. Period. Compare the five deaths you mention to the 6 million deaths across Europe.

Posted by: Ben Krane at July 24, 2008 08:49 AM

Thanks for the comment. Your comparison to Nazi Europe is valid -- 1/3 of Moroccan Jewry certainly weren't murdered in government camps. But the point of this post isn't to compare Morocco and Auschwitz. (Nor does it argue against noting the positive aspects of Jewish life in Morocco.) The point is to compare the Associated Press account to the reality it purports to convey -- and to hold it to Associated Press standards, such as the one that rejects "inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortion through emphasis [or] omission..."

Also, it should be pointed out that the post -- which by the way is in no way an exhaustive list of adversity faced by Moroccan Jews -- doesn't mention only "five deaths," as you suggest. "In Djerada, the Jewish population of 100 suffered 39 deaths and 30 severely wounded...." That particular incident, of course, represents even more than 1/3 of village's Jews being killed.

Posted by: GI at July 24, 2008 02:17 PM

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