Menu JTA Search

Jewish Groups Worried over Fate of Jews in Morocco, Tunisia

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Jewish organizations here are seriously worried over the continued outbreaks in French Morocco, in which Jews are being murdered and their property looted in the fight between Moslem nationalists, who insist on the return to Morocco of the former Sultan, Sidi Mohammed ben Youssef, and the followers of the present French-appointed Sultan, Sidi Mohammed ben Moulay Arafa.

Although the Jews are not involved in the political fight now raging in Morocco, they are in mortal fear, especially in the small towns where incited crowds are utilizing the tension to loot Jewish stores. Several Jews who made an effort to protect their property were killed by rioters last week. The situation is reported here to be especially precarious for Jews in Fez, where Jewish families prefer to be confined to their homes and not to appear in the street.

Jewish organizations here are also watching the developments in Tunisia, where a new all-Arab Cabinet was formed today with power to negotiate a self-government agreement with France. There are more than 250,000 Jews in Morocco. In Tunisia, there are about 100,000 Jews scattered in about 25 towns, with 60,000 of them in Tunis.

JEWISH COMMITTEE SENDS ENVOY TO STUDY SITUATION IN TUNISIA

Zachariah Schuster, European director for the AJC, flew from Paris to Tunis today to confer with leaders of the Jewish community there, and to meet with prominent French and Moslem personalities. The fundamental problem, Mr. Schuster said before departing, is assurance “that Jews, as individuals, will receive the same and equal rights granted all other Tunisians, with no discrimination because of religion. “

Another concern, declared Mr. Schuster, is the status to be given under the new regime to the network of Jewish religious and communal institutions, which must be permitted to function freely if Tunisian Jews are to be able to have a meaningful life as Jews in this predominantly Moslem country.

“We must inquire,” the AJC representative said, “about the new regime’s recognition of Jewish marriage rites and Jewish inheritance customs which have been regulated by Rabbinical courts backed by enforcement regulations always provided by Tunisian authorities. The Tunisian Jews have also developed a Federation of Communities, now recognized by the government, which sponsor valuable social welfare and educational work. Several treaties between France and Tunisia, some going as far back as 1857, assert that there shall be no discrimination as between Jews and Moslems in Tunisia. We want to make certain that these treaties are reaffirmed in the new conventions now being drawn for the governing of Tunisia.”

In addition to the 80, 000 native Jews in Tunisia, there are also an estimated 20,000 French Jews living there. However, the French Jews will be protected by special conventions now being drawn with regard to all French citizens residing in the old protectorate.

NEXT STORY