PARIS (Oct. 21)
Israeli writer and philosopher Aharon Amir is returning today to Israel after Morocco denied him entry to attend an international conference in Marrakesh. Amir and another Israeli, writer and Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Andre Chouraqui, had been invited to the World Conference on Poetry by its chairman, former Senegalese President Leopold Senghor.
Morocco’s refusal to grant them entry visas, in spite of earlier promises, is seen here as a definite break with past Moroccan policy and is interpreted as a gesture to Libya with which it signed an alliance last month.
Numerous Israelis, a couple of thousand at least, have visited Morocco in recent years and have been granted visas with relative ease. Morocco prided itself on its “open door” policy. Israeli politicians, journalists and also ordinary tourists attended congresses, came on pilgrimages or just visited the country.
Several Israelis visited Morocco as recently as earlier this summer. The new policy banning the entry into Morocco of all Israeli visitors, is reportedly being carried out on instructions from either the Moroccan Prime Minister or King Hassan himself.
SITUATION CHANGED WITHIN A FEW DAYS
Amir told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that both he and Chouraqui received their formal invitations to the Congress in Israel together with letters from Senghor telling them that the formalities for their entry into Morocco had already been arranged.
When Chouraqui, who arrived in Paris a few days before Amir, called the Moroccan Ambassador he was also told that “there are no problems” and that both he and Amir should contact the Consulate where the visas would be granted.
It was only a few days later, after Amir’s arrival that the Embassy said that “difficulties” had cropped up and let it be understood that it had received new instructions from Rabat. The Embassy offered to let Chouraqui in on condition he used his French passport. Chouraqui holds dual Franco-Israeli nationality. He turned down this offer in solidarity with Amir.
The two waited for over a week for a possible change. They were also told that Senghor and other African leaders had intervened on their behalf. Amir decided to return to Israel after it became clear that he could not attend the Congress.