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April 29, 2010

A Memory of Jews in Morocco

As we've noted twice before, the Associated Press misleadingly tends towards phrases like "warm times" to describe the relationship between Jews and Muslims in Morocco.

In yesterday's Jerusalem Post, a more somber and honest picture was sketched:

Only in later years did Dina come to appreciate the constant pressure her parents had endured before their departure. There were small things—insults and ceaseless intimidation. For example, her father, who owned a large and successful butcher shop, was at the mercy of local thieves, who sometimes simply walked into his business and demanded that he give them whatever they wanted – at no cost. “Not once and not twice,” Dina explains, “but whenever they wanted something. These were our good Muslim neighbors, you know?”

Avraham knew better than to argue. “If you said something they didn’t like, you were in danger,” Dina recalls. “Most of the time everybody got along. But when you are in a lower place in society, you don’t dare to stand up for yourself.”

There were bigger threats too, including mysterious disappearances. First her father’s best friend vanished. Then one of Dina’s cousins, a remarkably beautiful 14-year-old girl, also disappeared, never to be seen again. In the Moroccan Jewish community, such things weren’t exactly unusual. And they happened more and more frequently after 1948, when Israel declared itself an independent state. At that moment, the centuries-long, low-grade oppression Jews experienced in their role as dhimmis under Muslim rule was ignited into ugly confrontations, humiliation and random attacks. These episodes sometimes exploded into full-blown pogroms in which hundreds were killed or wounded.

An article in Commentary magazine published in September 1954 described the difficult circumstances of Morocco’s Jews during the early years of Dina Gabay Levin’s life. “In disputes with Muslims, or on civil commercial and criminal issues among themselves, Jews are almost entirely subject to Islamic courts... even under the best of circumstances [the courts] regard Jewish litigants as unclean, inferior beings.”

Read the rest here.

Posted by GI at April 29, 2010 01:34 PM

Comments

I lived in a town called Kenitra,We had a Jewish judge Rabbi Bennaroch who handles Jewih affairs in court.There was at times some animosity between the 2 communities specially in 67 ,however nothing like what is described in the article.The Jews that stayed in Morocco had a lot more confortable life than those who went to France and even Israel.In 1948 ,there were over 2 million Jews in the country,today there is less than 2000.I travel abroad a lot and found Moroccan Jews to have a rather nostalgic memory of Morocco.

Posted by: Abdallah .E at April 29, 2010 03:37 PM

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