King Mohammed VI’s decision that he intends to normalize ties with Israel has had “the impact of a tsunami,” says Moroccan Jewish community head Serge Berdugo.
By Dan Lavie, Israel Hayom via JNS
Trailblazing change, Morocco on Sunday announced that its schools will soon begin teaching Jewish history and culture as part of the official curriculum—a first in the region and in the North African country, where Islam is the state religion.
It follows King Mohammed VI of Morocco’s decision to normalize relations with the Jewish state in yet another historic peace deal brokered by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration and announced last week.
The move has had “the impact of a tsunami,” Serge Berdugo, secretary-general of the Casablanca-based Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco and a former minister in the Moroccan government, told the French news agency AFP.
Around 2,000 Jews live in Casablanca.
The decision concerning the curriculum was reportedly made discretely, even before Rabat and Jerusalem formerly normalized relations. According to AFP, the decision was made as part of an ongoing revamp of the educational curriculum in Morocco, which began in 2014.
The move aims to “highlight Morocco’s diverse identity,” according to Fouad Chafiqi, head of academic programs at Rabat’s Education Ministry.
AFP further cited two U.S.-based Jewish associations—the American Sephardi Federation and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations—as saying that they had “worked closely with the Kingdom of Morocco and the Moroccan Jewish community” on the “groundbreaking” academic reform.
“Ensuring Moroccan students learn about the totality of their proud history of tolerance, including Morocco’s philo-Semitism, is an inoculation against extremism,” leaders of the two organizations said in a statement published on Twitter.
As part of the plan, two new books will be introduced into the curriculum. They include a description of the life and heritage of Moroccan Jews under Sultan Mohammed Ben Abdellah al-Khatib, a descendant of the Alawite dynasty that rules the country to this day.
The books, intended for fourth and sixth grades, include historical accounts dating from the 17th century to the present day.
El Al planning to operate at least one daily flight to Morocco
Israeli airline El Al is planning to operate at least one daily flight to Morocco.
Until now, Israelis have had to travel to Morocco on special visas via indirect flights.
“The company welcomes the historic announcement and will begin preparing for direct flights to Casablanca subject to obtaining all the required approvals from the various authorities,” the airline said in a statement. “The company has been checking out the economic feasibility and operational implementation of operating direct flights to Morocco, which are expected to be very popular with Israeli customers.”
Israir airlines CEO Uri Sirkis was quoted by israeli business magazine Globes as saying that Israir is also preparing to operate flights on the route and estimates that in 2021 there could be as many as 150,000 Israeli tourists visiting Morocco. He said that at present, at least 30,000 Israeli tourists were visiting Morocco annually.
A third Israeli airline, Arkia, said it was also looking to operate flights to Morocco.