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King of Morocco Lifts Ban on Jewish Emigration; Announcement Issued

February 23, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

King Mohammed V of Morocco has agreed to end all restrictions against Jewish emigration from Morocco, effective this week, it was officially announced yesterday in Rabat by the Moroccan Minister of Information, Ahmed Alaoui.

The announcement was made following the visit of a delegation of Moroccan Jewish leaders to the king. The Jewish leaders were invited to the palace for “an important communication.” They were headed by former Cabinet Minister Leon Benzaquen and David Amar, secretary-general of the Council of Jewish Communities.

“All our Jewish subjects who want to leave the country, will be allowed to do so without any restrictions, “the Moroccan ruler was reported to have told the Jewish delegation. However, an aide to Mohammed made it clear later to the delegation that “foreign” organizations would not be allowed to operate in Morocco either to assist the emigrants or to propagandize emigration.

In announcing the decision of the king, the Moroccan Minister of Information said that the new policy would not mean that Zionist organizations would have the right to “denaturalize” Moroccan citizens, nor that it meant that Moroccan authorities favor a mass-emigration.

(The New York Times reported today from Morocco that Interior Minister Embarek Bekkai said in an interview that Moroccan Jews were free to travel anywhere, except Israel. The report quoted the Minister as stating that Morocco did not recognize Israel and therefore Moroccan passports were not valid for travel to Israel, just as United States passports were not good for entry into Communist China. The Minister emphasized that Moroccan Jews who go to Israel would lose their property and their Moroccan citizenship.)


Jewish delegates met today with the Minister of the Interior and presented their grievances and requests. The Minister told the delegates that instructions had been sent to Government offices throughout Morocco that no obstacles should be placed in the way of granting of passports to Jews or restrictions on their freedom of movement. Such obstacles have been a principal cause of anxieties among Moroccan Jews for some time.

Minister Bekkai said that the instructions ordered the provincial authorities to issue passports to Jews on the same conditions as they are being issued to Moslems, without any unnecessary delay. At the same time he urged the Jews in Morocco not to leave the country. He accused “international Zionists” of stimulating Moroccan Jews to emigrate.

Jewish leaders were elated at the sentiments expressed by the king during the audience he gave them in his palace. At the request of the Council of Jewish Communities prayers were held in all synagogues throughout the country for King Mohammed V in recognition of his liberal attitude toward the Jewish population and for the recent measures which he adopted both to protect and to further the welfare of the Jewish population. The Council of Jewish Communities also paid tribute to Interior Minister Bekkai who, it is understood, interceded with the king to secure his protection for the Jewish population.

Jewish circles in Paris were of the opinion that the Moroccan king banked on the fact that, despite his permission, most Jews would not be able to take advantage of the easing of restrictions, since the poor Jews of the city mellahs would technically not be able to leave the country while the rich Jews would emigrate only in small numbers. Zachariah Shuster, European director of the American Jewish Committee, who just returned after a week’s visit in Morocco, said that the king’s assurance had done much to ease the anxiety and the sense of oppression felt by Moroccan Jews.

Meanwhile it was reported from Casablanca today that four Jews have been arrested there and will be publicly tried on charges of offenses against the internal security of the state after they had allegedly confessed to participation in clandestine emigration activities. They also allegedly confessed to the distribution of “Zionist” leaflets.

According to the report, Casablanca police claimed that they had “uncovered” a “network of Moroccan Zionists.” Subsequent to police interrogation of the four, additional Jews were arrested.

It was also reported from Casablanca that the Jewish announcer of the Moroccan French Service was dismissed from his post several days earlier with no reason given for the dismissal. It was presumed that his name–Leon Israel–was a key factor.

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