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Jews in Arab countries



The Zionist lobby is staging a campaign charging that anyone who criticizes Israel is antisemitic. This is false. My own position is this. I am pro-Jewish and I feel much more at home in Israel than in Arab countries. Yet the creation of the state of Israel was a mistake from the viewpoint of the Jews. The Western world at large was happy that the Jews had a homeland and a refuge in case of persecution, but few foresaw the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland and their natural violent reaction, which in turn led the Israeli government to adopt policies unacceptable to Western opinion.

Before the creation of the state of Israel, Jews occupied an honored position in Arab countries. The massacre of Jews in Constantine was an exception, a reaction to the pro-Jewish policy of the French government. After the creation of the state of Israel, Jews lost their respected status in Arab countries and many emigrated to Israel. The closer to the state of Israel, the greater the pressure on them to migrate there. In Morocco, the Arab country most distant from Israel, many Jews remained. Now a feature AP article (11/14/03) tells us that even in Morocco the relentless pressure is on. The title runs: "Morocco's Jews consider departing after attacks. After centuries, relations with Muslims turn sour"

Jews came to Morocco 2,000 years ago, long before the Arab conquest.. It once had the largest Jewish population in the Arab world. After the Spanish Reconquest, many Jews found refuge in nearby Morocco. In 1948 there were 289,999 Jews in Morocco. In the same year there were anti-Jewish riots, rather like that in Constantine, provoked again largely by the preference France gave to Jews, Many Arab Jews fled to France, but a substantial colony remained. The recent wave of violence in Arab countries featured a suicide bombing in Casablanca that killed 45 people. Now Jews are thinking of leaving, primarily for France or Canada. Israel seems less attractive than it once was.

There is still a Jewish presence in Morocco. One of King Hassan II's most influential advisers, Andr Azoulay, is Jewish, something unthinkable in other Arab countries. Efforts are being made to preserve the 30 synagogues in Casablanca. But the writing is on the wall. Typically, Harry Amar worries that his little sister will never know the Morocco he grew up in, where Jews and Muslims lived comfortably side by side. What can be done? It is hard to unscramble eggs. The eggs having been broken, it is unlikely that healthy states can be hatched from them. Who will eat the scrambled eggs?

Ronald Hilton - 11.16.03


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