45,000 Jews Affected by Moroccan Ban on Emigration, Goldmann Reports
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45,000 Jews Affected by Moroccan Ban on Emigration, Goldmann Reports

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Dr. Nahum Goldmann, speaking in his capacity of president of the Jewish Agency, told a press conference here today that the Moroccan authorities shut down of Kadimah, the institution which directed Jewish emigration from Morocco to Israel, will spell “catastrophe” for most of the 45,000 Jews registered with Kadimah who have settled their affairs and are literally “sitting on their trunks” waiting to leave.

“They have nothing to return to after having liquidated all their belongings, in anticipation of emigration,” Dr. Goldmann said. He pointed out that all of them have undergone health examination and have secured certificates making them eligible to enter Israel. They are the poorest of the poor, he emphasized.

Dr. Goldmann revealed that the Moroccan police authorities had informed the Jewish Agency representative that the Kadimah would have to close its quarters within 24 hours, at midnight of the night it received the order. Actually only 14 hours’ notice was given, because the order was served at 10 A. M. Kadimah was ordered to transfer its property to charity organizations in Morocco, and could either remove its archives, or burn them, or do anything else with them it wanted.


At-the time the notice was served there were 2,000 people in the Kadimah transit camp with an unknown number on the way, Dr. Goldmann reported. The police order, he said, was completely unexpected in view of the fact that the Jewish Agency had held discussions with the Moroccan Government and with the nationalist parties in Morocco on Jewish migration to Israel. Similar discussions were also held by representatives of the World Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee and the Alliance Israelite Universelle with the Moroccan authorities.

During these discussions, Dr. Goldmann told the press conference, the representatives of the Jewish organizations had taken up two points: firstly, the question of Jewish rights and the protection of Jews in Morocco against violence and secondly, liberty of emigration. The government leaders and the leaders of the nationalist parties, Dr Goldmann said, repeatedly made promises on both points.

“We have nothing to complain of regarding the first point,” Dr. Goldmann stated. “There the promises are being kept. There is a Jewish member in the Moroccan Cabinet, there are Jewish functionaries, and the Jewish organizations are grateful and satisfied on the carrying out of this point. However, the complaint is with regard to the second point. Only last week the World Jewish Congress negotiated with the government in Rabat on this problem, and only three or four days ago–despite the fact that nothing has been signed–the impression was that everything would work out well.”

The Jewish Agency president pointed out that the organization of emigration is a worldwide phenomenon and that there are international organizations involved in this work. He cited Canada as an example of a country which sets up offices in various countries to help people emigrate from there to Canada. “There is nothing unusual in helping people to leave a particular country, therefore this question has nothing to do with any invasion of Moroccan sovereignty,” Dr. Goldmann argued.

He noted that 70,000 Jews came from Morocco to Israel since the establishment of the Jewish State and that they had emigrated even when Morocco was under a French regime. Thus, Jewish emigration from Morocco is not a product of Moroccan political developments, he declared.


Dr. Goldmann stressed the fact that most of the Jews of Morocco are illiterate and extremely poor. They cannot arrange their own emigration. “To say now to some Jews in a little town in the Atlas Mountains that he is permitted to go and ask for a visa and address himself to the proper authorities is just a big joke,” Dr. Goldmann stated. “He cannot arrange it, nor has he the money to come to Casablanca. He would even be afraid to do such things.”

Dr. Goldmann said he had seen the worst misery of Jewish communities in many countries, but had never seen anything to compare to that of the Moroccan mellah (ghetto). He did not criticize Morocco for this condition, he noted, but it was a just statement of fact. He wanted to emphasize that these poor people did not represent economic value to Morocco. Since wealthy Jews had not been emigrating, it was a joke to say that emigration had hurt the Moroccan economy, he said. There is simply no solution for the problem of the poverty stricken Jews in Morocco and Morocco should be glad to see them go, Dr. Goldmann asserted.

If political pressure by the Arab League was responsible for the decision to halt emigration, Dr. Goldmann said, then this was not justified because no civilized nation halts the emigration of Jews alone nor specifies that only Jews may not leave. Other countries, he continued, do not permit their citizens to emigrate, as for example, the Soviet Union, but such measures apply to everyone. They are not anti-Jewish measures.

The right to emigrate, he insisted, is part of the Declaration of Rights of Man which Morocco accepted in its treaty negotiations with France. Therefore, the ban on emigration violates that treaty. If all attempts by the Jewish Agency to re-establish emigration or partial emigration are unsuccessful, Dr. Goldmann indicated, the Agency would be forced to address itself to everywhere–to France, to national and international organizations in order to bring pressure to bear on Morocco. It is not even impossible that the matter would be raised at the United Nations because the right of emigration is part of the charter of human rights.


Dr. Goldmann indicated that the last word might not have been said about the ban. He stressed that the Agency was not seeking a fight with the new Arab nation, noting that there were enough Arab states on the other side already. He expressed the hope that something could be worked out, suggesting that perhaps all that was required was a change in procedure and that the entire matter was simply technical in nature. He indicated that despite the Agency’s bitterness over the matter, it would continue to try to get Morocco to reconsider and that perhaps some types of emigration would be tolerated.

The Jewish Agency president pointed out that the situation was unparalleled in the Jewish Agencys experience. It had never before been ordered to suspend immigration activity on 24 hours notice. Sometimes it had been given six months or a year to end activities, but never 24 hours.

He pointed out that the Agency still had the obligation to feed and care for those Jews who were stranded in the Kadimah’s transit camp when the ban was imposed. He estimated that at least one-third of the remaining 200,000 Moroccan Jews would want to go to Israel if they could. He offered as one possible explanation of the Moroccan Government action the possibility that it had wanted to make a “gesture of Arab solidarity.”

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