Jewish history in Morocco dates back as far as 70 CE under the rule of the Roman Empire. Just prior to World War II, the Jewish population in Morocco hit its peak of 225,000 people. Today, the Jewish population of Morocco does not even number 5,500. It strikes me as very interesting that the Jews have spent so much time in Morocco but when the State of Israel was finally created in 1948, everyone fled. The primary reason this topic interests me though is because of my Moroccan descent and that research of culture really interests me.
As well, I have developed a special passion for Moroccan culture after seeing how Jews were treated there compared to how they were and still are being treated in other Arab countries. My grandmother tells me stories all the time so that sparked my interest especially from seeing the situation in Israel compared to how we once lived with few problems. Out of the vast array of topics to choose from it may strike the reader as odd that I chose the topic of Jews in Morocco over many others.
It may be hard to believe that there are Jews living in Arab countries in the first place after seeing the issues Jews are having with the Arab world today. What is even more striking is that after thousands of years living there under Islamic rule, only in the past century have people stopped feeling welcome. Thus, I wanted to investigate the events of recent history leading to the mass exodus of Jews from Morocco in the 50s and 60s.
Since the depth of my topic covers a much wider time frame than just these 20 or so years, to properly focus my research I will concentrate my efforts on answering two questions: First, how did the Jews get to Morocco in such mass numbers in the first place? Secondly, what were the reasons for the majority of them fleeing so hastily? These questions will help me to get a clearer idea of the situation faced by these Jews and might help to explain why Jews of other Arab countries made similar decisions.
The issue of how the Jews were treated in Morocco in recent history is a topic of great interest to many people today with the recent rise of Islamic extremist in the world and the ensuing Islamophobia that has been exhibited by the general populous in Europe but also in much of North America.
People have the impression that all Jews hate the Arabs and vice versa; however, through the publishing of my essay, light can be shone on this situation and the story of Morocco and help people to become more tolerant. If people see how Jews and Arabs once coexisted, maybe this will eliminate some of the stereotypes that people have, even Jews and Arabs themselves, of the two cultures.
Tags: Jewish population in Morocco, Jews and Arabs, Islamic extremist, Islamic rule, Moroccan culture.
[...] Some kings even opened up the doors to the country to thousands of Jews who faced persecution in different countries. It is estimated that some 100,000 Jews exiled from Spain during the Inquisition came to Morocco in the 1400s. Later, the Moroccan Sultan neither encouraged nor prevented tens of thousands of Jewish refugees from Spain and Portugal from entering Morocco in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. The position of Jews was in some ways better than that of their Muslim neighbours. [...]
[...] We came from a city in Southern Spain where my ancestors made up the city counsel responsible for decision-making, etc When the time of the inquisition came many thousands of Jews were let into Morocco and so prevent a crisis the Moroccan royalty stopped the further immigration of Jews fleeing Spain. We changed our name to Cabessa [which means head in Spanish] and posed as Spanish elite to gain access to the country. I enjoyed the book by Zafrani more because it was more of a story telling that a strict factual book, whereas the book by Assaraf tended to just to give over in detail the events that happened in recent history in a “history book” fashion. [...]
[...] A third of the mellah was destroyed, and 12,000 Jews were left homeless. In response to an outcry from foreign Jewish organizations about the Fez pogrom, France took control of the administration of the Jewish communities. However, the French expected Jews to remain subjects of the Sultan as opposed to giving them French citizenship like what was done in Algeria. The inability of Jews to obtain French citizenship contributed to the appeal of moving to Israel. Tensions associated with the Israeli-Arab War and the beginnings of Moroccan Jewish emigration to Israel contributed to two pogroms in the eastern towns of Oujda and Djerrada in June 1948. [...]
[...] The issue of how the Jews were treated in Morocco in recent history is a topic of great interest to many people today with the recent rise of Islamic extremist in the world and the ensuing Islamophobia that has been exhibited by the general populous in Europe but also in much of North America. People have the impression that all Jews hate the Arabs and vice versa; however, through the publishing of my essay, light can be shone on this situation and the story of Morocco and help people to become more tolerant. [...]
[...] In response to decreasing economic opportunities, emigration from the rural areas to the urban mellahs increased. A final blow to Moroccan Jewry was the Holocaust, which had a traumatic effect on them, even though their community was saved from the devastation that struck the Jews of Europe. When peering into the not so distant future, particularly after Moroccan independence from France in 1956, and even though the new constitution said that only Muslims and Jews could be citizens, they saw an uncertain future. [...]
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