“The Abraham Accords allowed a new cultural and economic opening”
On December 10, 2020, Israel and Morocco officially announced the resumption of their diplomatic relations. i24NEWS interviewed the Moroccan writer and journalist Jamal Amiar, on the occasion of the release of his book Morocco, Israel and Moroccan Jews, November 24. A book that sheds light behind the scenes of the relationship between the two countries, which has remained discreet for six decades, and analyzes from the inside the interaction between Morocco, Israel and Moroccans Jews culturally, diplomatically, politically, religiously or economically. .
“I have been interested in Moroccan Jewry and Moroccan politics for 25 years, I even wrote my master’s thesis on Moroccan Jews and Moroccan politics in the late 80s. Then I made two trips to Israel and one research stay at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This is also a topic that I have always faced during my career as a journalist, so when the Abraham Accords process started, I said to myself that it is now or never to give an overview of Israeli-Moroccan relations, and the history of Moroccan Jewry in the last 80 years,” said Jamal Amiar i24NEWS.
Throughout the text, the author especially insists on the singularity of Jewish-Muslim coexistence in Morocco as well as the role of Moroccan Jews in Israel who, after an integration scattered with traps, became a place for themselves. .
Jamal Amiar discusses some major themes in 21 chapters, including the Trump-Netanyahu tandem, popular Moroccan kings of Israel, Benny Gantz in Rabat, the assassination of Rabin, aliyah, but also the weak points and paradoxes in the relationship with Israel. -Morocco. He also mentioned the fact that the cooperation between the countries was first concerned in the field of migration and security before extending to business and diplomacy.
“I emphasize the links between Moroccan Jews, Morocco and Israel. A century ago, in Essaouira, there were several tens of thousands of inhabitants, half of them Jews, and there were 37 synagogues. 1947-48 , there are approximately 6 to 7 million inhabitants in Morocco, including 300,000 Jews. I intend to show that the Jewish community is present throughout the Moroccan territory, “he said.
In a chapter entitled “Alya”, Jamal Amiar recounts the migration of Moroccan Jews. “I explained that it is not easy to be a Moroccan Jew in Israel. recover their culture to protect themselves. The situation then improved with the rise in power of the Likud and the creation of the Shas party”.
“On the contrary, the respect for the traditions of the Jews in Morocco, the fact that Morocco has never asked any Jew to leave and that the Moroccan Jews who left and returned, respect the Hebrew laws about of the Moroccan citizens of the Jewish confession, the repeated declarations and the assurances given by the kings of Morocco about the inviolability of the rights of the Moroccan Jews, participated in the defense and then in the revival of the culture of Moroccan Jews.
Jamal Amiar recounts that “the relations between the Israeli and Moroccan authorities never stopped, because from the 1950s, there was Aliyah diplomacy and contacts were established, then all this was strengthened through mediation with King Hassan II, highly valued by Israel.Moroccans played a fundamental role in the reconciliation between the Israelis and Egypt at the request of both parties, and it is the same with the Palestinians for the Oslo agreements.
The influence of the Abraham Accords on the Moroccan people and the Jews
According to Jamal, the Abraham Accords were well received by the Moroccan people, despite the Islamist opposition, which still exists today. “Moroccans do not say that Morocco is part of the Abraham Accords, they feel different from the Gulf states because they have a history with Israel and Moroccan Jews,” he said.
Last July, the Arab barometer research network published a survey showing that the level of acceptance of agreements between Israel and Morocco remains very low in Egypt, for example. The two countries that have best embraced this bilateral relationship are Morocco and Sudan.
“For Morocco, about a third of the population is in favor of it, but I think we are approaching a good half, we can be satisfied and optimistic about the development of relations because of what has happened since. agreement but also before with Hassan II and Shimon Peres, Moroccan mediation after the Madrid conference (1991) with the Oslo agreements (1994) and the Oslo aftermath, because we often forget that Madrid led to any series in bilateral meetings between Israelis and Arab interlocutors on many themes”, the author explained.
Different contributions to each other
The continuation of relations between Israel and Morocco provides many opportunities to the two peoples thus enriching their respective States culturally and economically.
“The agreements allowed a new cultural opening, people discovered the Moroccan Jewish cultural heritage. Personally, I had the opportunity to attend the games held by the Israeli troops in Rabat. In addition, on November 30, the Habima theater troupe from Tel-Aviv will perform in Rabat in Moroccan Arabic. We also discovered that there are Israeli singers or singers of Moroccan origin such as Neta Elkayam and Lala Tamar which brings the latest classics of popular Moroccan songs. There is even a Youtube channel dedicated to Morocco- Israel relations since 2020. All these initiatives are good,” Jamal Amiar rejoiced.
From an economic point of view, it makes it possible to establish a wide range of contacts and activities; Morocco is very open to foreign investment and international trade. “Israel is a major economy that is very focused on new technologies used in agriculture, water or even mobility. In my book, I dedicate a whole chapter to the fact that this signing of the agreement facilitates the projects that many people want to launch. the Israelis and for the Moroccans, it is the conquest of a new market”, he assured.
“Israel is home to the second largest community of Moroccan Jews, we feel it when we go to the country, the presence of Morocco can be seen in small touches, especially in terms of gastronomy, fashion , music but also politics. This has one fundamental thing to understand: unlike what happened in many Arab states and even in Europe, there was never a separation between Moroccan political authority and Moroccan Jews, never even what mistake, or lack of trust. line and it is unique and unique on a political level. Even in complicated moments of history, the Moroccan Jews have never been abandoned and the relationship remains intact”, concluded Jamal Amiar.
Born in 1960 in Morocco, Jamal Amiar studied political science in France and the United States before working as a journalist and teacher in the United States first and then in Morocco. His work will be published in French and he hopes soon, in Arabic and Hebrew.
Caroline Haïat is a journalist at the French site i24NEWS