The day of reckoning is approaching with giant strides and Tangier, one of the beauty spots of the North African coast, finds itself again the center of international attention. The international convention under which the city has been administered since 1923 when France, Great Britain and Spain and later Italy agreed to continuation of the international status the territory had had since 1912, is subject to revision this year.
Tangier has been policed by Spain and the administration of its native (Moslem and Jewish) population has been entrusted to the Mendoub, the representative of the Sultan of Morocco. The government directing all other affairs of the zone consists of an international legislative assembly of twenty-seven members. Three members of this assembly are Moroccan Jews, nominated from a list of nine submitted to the Mendoub by the Jewish electorate.
ROLE OF CITY’S JEWS
Will this administration continue? The interested governments are already reported preparing their claims for complete sovereignty. No one asks what are the desires of the city herself. She is not invited to signify her choice and she has not the least desire to give expression to it.
What role does the Jewish community play in this interesting scene, in this fascinating city?
That is difficult to say. It numbers about 10,000 in a population of about 50,000. By its position, commercial and financial, and by the strength of its intellectual forces, the Jewish colony could, although not taking part in determining the decision itself, at least influence it. But it is not concerned in the least bit. Before being Jews, they are citizens of Tangier; that means they are talkative, indifferentâ€”of an indifference that reaches even to the point of egoism; speaking much, but acting not at all or just a little bit. Although they could do something.
Among the different colonies of Tangier, the Jewish colony is the only one which appoints its representatives for the Legislative Assembly of the city. The other members of this body are simply appointed by their nation’s consuls.
The influence of the Jewish community could even be still stronger, as there are Jews among the representatives of the European colonies. Thus, the Jews could, if they wished, play a more important role in determining the city’s fate. But in this respect they are true citizens of Tangier, unconcerned and inactive.
It is true that the general mentality of the Jew in Tangier is somewhat unique.
The Jews of Tangier are Francophile. The great majority of them have been educated in French schools, or in the schools of the Alliance Israelite Universelle where they learned about France and learned to love the country.
Some of them are inclined toward Spain. They preserve the old Castilian language and many of the old customs of 1492.
A few members of the younger generation have come under the English influence and display a preference for English customs and manners. Still others lean to the Italian and have become great admirers of Mussolini as a result of his work for the city by establishment of Italian schools and a fine hospital.
ADMIRERS OF EUROPE
Everything which is European has a charm for the Jew of Tangier. He appreciates civilization without distinction of nationality. He loves the whole world, and doesn’t give preference to anybody.
But we must not forget that among these affections is his brotherly friendliness uniting him with the Moroccan Mohammedan population with which his relations have been and are most loyal and friendly.
There is one point, however, in which the Jews of Tangier agree with everybody: that is charity. They are invited, or they invite themselves to partake in charities and they don’t take pains to find out details. There are no charity affairs, no tombolas (a form of lottery) subscriptions, where their contributions are not among the first. Their giving is lavish and with a generous indifference to the race or color of the recipient.