Morocco’s Jewish Community Leaders Protest Anti-semitic Statement by Member of Parliament

Leaders of Morocco’s Jewish community filed a formal protest with Premier Karim Lamrani today against an anti-Semitic statement by Hullali Bouchahib, a member of Parliament. Bouchahib demanded the dismissal of all Jews employed by the government on grounds that they are “Zionists who corrupt the country’s administration.”

The community leaders were joined in their protest by Dr. Leon Benzaquen, a former Cabinet member and the foremost Jewish personality in Morocco. They cabled the Speaker of the House to express their “deep shock” at Bouchahib’s statement.

There are currently an estimated 45,000 Jews in Morocco and many of them are reportedly planning to leave in the near future. After Morocco gained independence from France, several thousand Jews served as civil servants, many in senior posts. Today there are only about two dozen Jewish civil servants left and only seven hold senior positions.

Many Jewish officials resigned or were dismissed from their jobs several years ago when the Istiqlal Party leader Allal el Fassi called on the government not to treat Jews as “normal citizens” but as “potential Zionist agents.” Recently several Jewish businessmen and senior government officials in Morocco were arrested or fled abroad to avoid arrest on charges of “public corruption and influence peddling.” The charges were considered by local Jewish circles to stem from King Hassan’s drive on corruption rather than anti-Jewish sentiments.

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