Israel thanks Morocco for protecting Jews during the Holocaust



Israeli President Isaac Herzog thanked Moroccan King Mohammed VI in a letter seen by AFP on Tuesday. for providing his country with a “safe haven” for Jews during the Holocaust.

The letter — two years after Morocco’s normalization of relations with Israel — marked the first time an Israeli state official had acknowledged the actions of the then-Moroccan monarch during the Holocaust-era, according to the presidency.

gratitude

Herzog expressed Israel’s gratitude to the King “and to the Moroccan people who have worked for generations to protect the safety, welfare and cultural heritage of the kingdom’s Jewish community”.

Herzog mentioned Jews who settled in Morocco following their expulsion from Spain in the late 15th century, before pointing to the North African country’s protection of Jews during World War II.

“As millions of Jews faced the horrors of the Holocaust in the 20th century, King Mohammed V offered his Jewish subjects a safe haven,” Herzog said in the Dec. 22 letter.

“Moroccan Jews remember with pride and affection the memory of their grandfather, His Majesty King Mohammed V, who is remembered as the protector and guardian of Jews in his realm,” added Herzog.

Mohammad V is famous for his refusal to implement anti-Jewish laws enacted by France’s pro-German Vichy government during World War II.

Herzog praised the current king’s steps to support his country’s Jewish community, noting the decision to include Holocaust education in Moroccan schools.

The deep commitment

Such a move would not only “deepen your people’s commitment to tolerance and understanding, but also send a strong message about these essential values ​​to countries from the Atlantic to the Gulf,” Herzog wrote.

The presidency said the letter had been coordinated with Israel’s foreign ministry and the state-run Holocaust center, Yad Vashem.

Rabat severed ties with Israel in 2000 following the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada.

But in December 2020, the two countries formalized ties following similar agreements earlier in the year between Israel and the Gulf countries, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Israel had previously signed peace treaties with neighboring Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and 1994 respectively.

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Morocco’s Jewish community dates back to ancient times and grew with the expulsion of the Spanish Jews in the 15th century.

By the 1940s their number had grown to 250,000, 10 percent of the country’s population, but mass emigration ensued after the founding of Israel in 1948.

The kingdom’s Jewish community today is estimated at around 3,000 people, the largest in North Africa.

Approximately 700,000 Israelis claim to be of Moroccan descent and maintain strong ties to their country of origin.

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