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March 03, 1961 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1961-03-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Purely Commentary

By PHILIP SLOMOV ITZ

The Tragedy of Moroccan Jewry

Moroccan Jewry's problems are not diminishing, in spite of The
removal of restrictions announced last week by Morocco's Minister
of InformatiOn Ahmed Alaoui.
The Jews in Morocco have only one avenue of escape: Israel.
Yet. Morocco's Minister of Interior Embarek Bekkai has stated
specifically that Moroccan Jews will be permitted to travel any-
where, except. to Israel, and that those going to Israel would lose
their property as well as their Moroccan citizenship. While they
have nothing to lose now in abandoning their citizenship in Morocco,
they do hope to salvage some of their belongings, and their plight
remains appalling.
In a revealing expose of "The Plight of Moroccan Jews," which
appears in the current issue of the Reporter magazine, Edmond
Taylor, the magazine's European correspondent, who has visited
Morocco numerous times, states that "Moroccan anti-Semitism rose
to a high pitch after 42 clandestine Jewish emigrants, trying to
reach Gilbraltar in the worm-eaten smuggling schooner Pisces, were
drowned on the night of Jan. 10. The Spanish captain and two of
the crew escaped in the only lifeboat, abandoning the passengers
to their fate. The three survivors were arrested as soon as they
touched Moroccan soil—not for homicide - but for evading emigration
laws. The Moroccan press clamored for punishment of the `Zionist
agents' allegedly responsible for instigating such treasonable acts
as risking one's life to get out of the country, and the more extreme
nationalist organs gave the impression that every Moroccan Jew
is a potential Zionist." Taylor relates the following sad episodes:
"The anti-Jewish press campaigns and police harassment,
aggravated by sporadic acts of individual hooliganism against Jews
(notably at Meknes) and by outbursts of mass hatred, have plunged
many of Morocco's 200,000 Jews into a state of panic. The normal
trickle of clandestine emigration has spurted; during the Casablanca
conference, 117 Jews succeeded in leaving the country, some of
them at fantastic risk. According to a special correspondent sent to
Morocco by the Paris daily France-Soir, after the Pisces incident
in all the mellahs of Morocco women who had been going about
in deep mourning for years suddenly appeared in brightly colored
dresses lest they be suspected of family ties with one of the ship-
wreck victims—most of whom had to be buried in namelss graves—
and punished as abettors of treason.
'To observers who have had a chance to study the Jewish
question in Morocco at first hand recently—my last trip was a year
ago—the latest reports from there are depressingly familiar in some
respects. In others, however, they sound a new and more sinister
note, with grave implications for the future not only from the
viewpoint of the Jews but also from that of Morocco's role in Africa.
"Fear and tension between Moslems and Jews have existed in
Morocco to some degree since the Arabs arrived there in the seventh
century. The Jews were already there, at least in the form of native
Berbers converted to the Judaic religion by scattered - Hebrew
settlers or adVenturers, some of Whom may have come to Morocco
with• Phoenician traders long before the destruction of the Temple:
The Sephardic reflux from Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth cen-
tury represented a new wave of Jewish settlement, at a high cultural
level. Until the French protectorate, Moroccan Jews had the status
of dhimmis—alien subjects of the sultan, with hi-lined brit recogl•
nized rights. In the larger Moroccan cities their mellahs, half sanc-
tuaries, half ghettos, were huddled in unhygienic squalor as close
as possible to the walls of the sultan's palace, symbolizing their
uneasy though rarely intolerable relationship with the Moslem
majority. Nearly every political or economic upheaval in Morocco's
tormented history brought out Moslem mobs to loot the mellahs-
and sometimes to massacre their inmates—but in quiet- times the
two communities lived side by side without serious frietion. In:
North Africa Moslem anti-Semitism, if it can be called that, never
had the virulence of the Christian variety in Europe. It was not
racial hatred but, as one leading French authority on North African
Judaism puts it, an attitude of 'ritual contempt.'
"The poor and illiterate among both Jews and Moslems shared
quite a number of traditions and superstitions. Some sixty-four of
the Marabouts, the miracle-working holy men whose worship is a
special feature of the folk religion in Morocco, are equally venerated
by members of the two communities. One of the most famous. Mara-
bouts was actually a kind of paleo-Zionist who came to Morocco in
the seventeenth century to collect funds for Jewish cultural activi-
ties in Palestine.
• "On my last visit to Morocco, strolling through the faded, blue-
shadowed splendor of the old Moorish quarter in Tangiers, I asked
to be shown the birthplace of Sol Ha Saddika, a nineteenth-century
Jewess who is one of the few female Marabouts honored in Morocco.
My guide, a Moslem university student in blire jeans, looked blank. -
Thinking that my accent was at fault, I added •soine identifying
details. Sol Ha Saddika—plain Solica to members of her own com-
munity—was the seventeen-year-old daughter of a Tangiers shop-
keeper. She was executed in Fez a little Over a century ago because
she refused to give up her faith and become a Moslem in Order to
enter the Sultan's harem. For generations her tomb was a place of
pilgrimage for both Moslem and Jewish women. 'Sol Ha Saddika,'
the student repeated, so sullenly I knew he was lying. 'I never heard
of her. We're no longer interested in folklore.' When I mentioned
Solica to a westernized Jewish businessman in Tangiers, his reaction
was much the same. He knew of her as a martyr of Jewish resistance
to the millennial press of Islam in North Africa, but he sounded :
vaguely ashamed of her posthumous career as the tutelary spirit
of a Berber folk cult.
"The tendency of both educated Jews and Moslems in con-
temporary Morocco to turn their backs on "folklore"—that is, on
the common indigenous elements in their past—in favor of more
`modern' values has contributed to the growing twentieth-century
tension between the two communities. It began under the- FrenCh
protectorate when part of the Jewish minority, liberated at last
from the mellah, associated itself closely with French colonialism
and thereby achieved a great economic and cultural advance over
the more slowly evolving Moslem bourgeoisie. Simultaneously the
craftsmen of the mellahs sank into more abject poverty than before
because of the introduction of mass-produced foreign goods."
That is how a new tragedy is plaguing a large Jewish commu-
nity, and their plight threatens to be only the beginning of a new
outburst of anti-Jewishness that will surpass even some of the
cruelties of the Nazis. Taylor also states in his report from Morocco
that a middle-class Jew said to him, in comment upon curtailment
of mail from Morocco to Israel, that "eventually they'll get

Noied Leaders Arrive in. U. S. for UJA

Four noted Israelis and two
executives of the American
Jewish Joint Distribution Corn-
mittee arrived here f r o m
abroad to take an active part
in the 1961 United Jewish
Appeal Campaign to raise
$72/740,000 to benefit 580,000
needy people in Israel and 25
other countries throughout the
world. They are:
Abba S. Eban, 'prominent
statesman and former Israel

Ambassador to the U.S.; Col.
Yosef Carmel, Aide de Camp
to President Ben-Zvi; Charles
H. Jordan, director-general for
overseas operations of the JDC,
covering 26 countries includ-
ing Israel; Henry Levy, direc-
tor of JDC's activities - in Latin
America; . and,, by coincidence,
two outstanding Israeli person-
alities, representing two gene-
rations of a pioneering family:
General Moshe Dayan, former

Detroit Chapter of Hadassah Slates
Annual 'Education Day Meeting'

Detroit Chapter of Hadassah
will hold its annual "Education
Day Meeting" 10:30 a.m. March
14 at Cong. Shaarey Zedek, an-
nounces Mrs. George Rubin, vice
president of education.
"Freedom—Jewry's Life Line"
will be discussed by Dr. Selig
Adler of Buffalo and Mrs. Morris
Adler.
The day's activities ■ will begin
at 10:30 a.m. with registration
and a complimentary brunch.
Mrs. Adler will speak on "Free-
dom—Jewry's Historical Posi-
tion" at 11:30 a.m. Dr. Adler
will speak on "Freedom—Jewry's
Present and Future" at 12:30
p.m.
. Dr. Adler is the Samuel Paul
Capen Professor of History at
the University of Buffalo. He is
author of "The Isolationist Im-
pulse" and his sketch of the back-
ground of American-Israeli diplo-
matic and cultural relations was
published in 1956 by Harper and
Brothers as part of a volume en-
titled "Israel, Its Role in Civiliza-
tion."

He has won acclaim for the
book he co-authored with Thomas
E. Connolly, "From Araret to
Suburbia: A History of the
Jewish Community of Buffalo,
N.Y."
The brunch for the March 14
affair is being arranged with
the cooperation of the Shaarey
Zedek Sisterhood social commit-
tee, headed by Mesdames Irving
Rogovein, chairman; George Par-
zens and -Aaron Friedman.
Mrs. Henry Pariser, Hadassah
social committee chairman, is
assisted by Mesdames Alfred
Kuschinski, Herman Radner, N.
J. Kapetansky, Abraham Flayer,
Edward Bernstein, Irwin Green,
Samuel Albert and Sanford Ward.

around to arresting us for con-
spiracy against the state every
time a Moroccan Jew encloses a
message for his old mother in
Israel in a letter to France." His
report, at that time, warns of
these impending dangers:
"Things still haven't reached
that point in Morocco, but judg-
ing from the latest reports the
situation has worsened dramati-
cally t h e- r e. It loOks all the
blacker because King Mohammed
V, whom several Moroccan Jews
characterized to me as their 'last
hope,' has been running the
country directly, with the help
of his son, since last May; and in
those months official harasment
of the Jews has reached a new
intensity. Probably there has not
been any change in the king's
personal views; what chiefly
disturbs non-Jewish Fr e n c h
observers of North Africa n
affairs is the suspicion that the
current outbreak of Moroccan
anti-Semitism is a symptom that
the situation in Morocco is escap-
ing from his control. Like the
D e m b e r flareup of anti-
Semitism among Algerian Mos-
lems, which brought the sacking
of the Algiers synagogue and
other outrages that raised the
problem of the Jewish minority
in Algeria after independence,
the Moroccan flareup is viewed
here as reflecting the rise and
spread of revolutionary anarchy
or extremism within a segment
of North African nationalism.
Perhaps the West will start con-
sidering the plight of Morocco's
JeWs as a serious storm signal."
Moroccan Jewry now prays
that the king's death will not
worsen their position.
So far, neither the United
States, which has s u p p l i e d
Morocco with $81,000,000 in fi-
nancial aid, or the United Na-
tions, whose Universal Declara-
tion of Human R i g h t s was
signed by Morocco, have done
anything about the Moroccan
Jewish tragedy. Can the West
ever be counted upon to consider
Moroccan Jewry's plight? Only
little Israel can come to the aid
of Moroccan Jews—and to accom-
plish the serious task such vast
sums will be needed that the
imagination is staggered. Whence
cometh help?

Congo Echoes

.

Chief of Staff of the Israel
Army and now Minister of
Agriculture, and his daughter,
Yael Dayan, best-selling author
and army officer.
They are scheduled to in-
elude Detroit in - their Ain--
eraries.
Gen. Dayan is an acknowl-.
edged master military strategist
and tactician. He rose from
the ranks to Chief of Staff.
Yoel Dayan, Gen. Dayan's 22- •
year-old daugh-
ter, is a veteran
of the Israel
army and the
author of two
best - selling
novels, "N e w
Face in the
Mirrror," based
upon her ex-
periences as an
army lieuten-
ant, and "Envy
the Fright-
ened." She also
has written ar-
ticles for news-
papers and tele-
vision scripts
for the BBC.
Miss Dayan, Yael Dayan
like her father, is a native
Israeli. She is a former stu-
dent at the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem.

..

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Boris Smolar's

I

Between You

I

and Me'

(Copyright 1961,
JevVish Telegraphic Agency, Inc.)

The. crisis in the Congo is beginning to affect Israel to a
point where the government will have to work hard to mend

fences in Africa . . . While Israeli leaders were quarreling over
the Lavon Affair,. Nasser gained considerable ground in African
countries where Israel was very popular . . • Even - Ghana and
Mali, where .Israel has made heavy investments, are now falling'
strongly under Nasser's influence . . Leaders • of these two.
countries who attended the Casablanca meeting of African coun- . •
tries to coordinate their action in the Congo, voted—under •
Nasser's influence—for .a strongly-worded resolution against
Israel . . . At first Israel refused to believe that Dr. Nkrumah
and the Premier of Mali signed the Casablanca anti-Israel docu-
ment . • . When it was. revealed that they had done so, Israel
Sent. emissaries to Ghana and Mali to protest at the highest
level . . . The shock came when .both Ghana and Mali reaffirmed,
their approval of the anti-Israel resolution . . This. was • the -
worst blow to Israel since the United States took a stand against..
Israel during the Sinai campaign . . . Israel has considered.
Ghana and Mali as its best friends in Africa . . . It not, only
invested money there, but it has also sent many experts, set up
entire services, and helped those countries in other ways . .
Israelis decided to regard the anti-Israel action of. Ghana, Mali
and Guinea in the framework of African developments . .
They will have .to reassess their investments in these countries..
. It will be an agonizing reappraisal, especially if Nasser .
should continue to strengthen his position with the African
lands by utilizing, as he does, the turmoil in the Congo.

Communal Problems

• The growing multiplicity of independent fund-taising . Cam-'
paigns—conducted in the communities outside of the frame-
work of local Jewish federations and welfare funds—is becoming,
a threat to the capacity of the American Jewish community
to meet the local, national and overseas needs for which it
has responsibility . . . Despite the fact that there is more clear-
ance of such campaigns in recent years with the local welfare'.
funds, the independent "multiple appeals" seem to affect or-
ganized overall fund-raising by the community . . . Thus, inde- -
pendent appeals have doubled the amount raised in the last
decade, and have risen from $25,000,000 to $50,000,000 a year,
while Welfare Fund results have declined from $142,000,000 in
1950 to about $130,000,000 last year . . . Jewish community
leaders are making strenuous efforts to deal with the problem -
of "multiple appeals" . . . Their concern lies not so much in
the elimination of these appeals but rather in securing coordina-
tion.

Important Anniversary

The Israel Bond Campaign is now entering its tenth year
. . It was in 1951 that the campaign was started—three• years
after the establishment of Israel . . . During these ten years the
campaign has brought more than $475,000,000 to Israel for all
kinds of development projects . . . Jews in the United States
have learned to look upon the Israel Bonds as a safe investment
which is of benefit not only to Israel but also to themselves
They receive their interest regularly in dollars and they now
consider the bonds "as good as gold" . . . This explains why the
sale of Israel bonds has become a permanent institution, although
at the beginning it was feared that people possessing bonds
would hesitate to acquire more of them in subsequent cam-
paigns . • . There are numerous Jewish groups and institutions '
today which invest a good part of their reserve capital in Israel
bonds . . Credit for the success of the Israel. Bond campaign
for the last six years is undoubtedly due to Dr. Joseph J.
Schwartz, executive vice-president of the Israel Bond Organiza-
tion.

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