Morocco’s summer of terror: More on the 1954 massacre at Petit Jean
As promised, here is a little more detail about the massacre of Petit Jean, near Meknes, on 3 August 1954. The massacre gives the lie to the myth that Moroccan Jews and Muslims had always lived peacefully together. As a commenter has pointed out, this pogrom was the worst of a series of incidents - riots in Oujda in 1953 in which four Jews were killed, Sagan in 1955 (hundreds of Jews made homeless after their homes were burnt to the ground), riots in Wadi Zem (a family of five and two other Jews killed).
The aftermath of the massacre
The massacre of Petit-Jean (now known as Sidi Kacem) took place against a background of unrest and violence as Moroccan nationalists struggled for independence against French colonial rule. The tension was palpable during that fateful August of 1954.
What happened exactly on 3 August ?
Petit Jean was a commercial hub 20 kilometres from Meknes. Jewish shopkeepers prepared to shut their stores to comply with a nationalist boycott. But the French authorities told them to remain open and guaranteed them ‘total protection’. The Jews paid dearly for such a lie.
According to Robert Assaraf, author of Une certaine histoire des juifs du Maroc (p 579),at around 6.30 pm a horde of 1,000 excited Arabs converged on the old town and fixed a portrait of the exiled sultan, the future Mohammed V, on the front of a Jewish shop. The police commissioner climbed a ladder to remove it. The mob threw stones at him. He got away.
For no apparent reason, the mob then took out their frustrations on the Jews, clubbing them with iron bars. Some believed that a Jew had lent the policeman a ladder.
JTA reported on the ‘pogrom’ atmosphere in Morocco:
Haifa (Aug 15): “The first group of 599 Moroccan Jews escaping from the pogrom atmosphere now prevailing in Morocco arrived here today. Most of the immigrants are young people and come from Marakesh, Fez, Rabat and Casablanca.
"The immigrants are the first of a stream of 25, 000 Moroccan Jews already registered for entry into Israel by the Jewish Agency. They left aboard the Israeli ship “S.S. Jerusalem” two days after the start of the anti-Jewish attacks, which resulted in at least seven Jewish dead and many injured at Petitjean and Fez.
Most Moroccan Jews, rich and poor alike, want to leave for Israel, and “the sooner they are transferred, the better, ” the refugees declared. They told how, when they were passing through the streets of Casablanca on their way to board their ship, Arabs shouted: “We’ll start war against the Jews within a week. “
Great speech: Israel’s ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub visits Bradford
Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Daniel Taub visits Bradford (which George Galloway wanted to make an ‘Israel free zone’) and blows them away with a great speech.
Don’t you love how Israel-haters accuse Israel of racism, but THEY are the most vile racists there are?
So in the EU-candidate Turkey, a pianist should be punished for his re-tweets, but a pop-singer should be congratulated for her first-class racist hate-speech. This is contagious.
No reporter present at Mr. Ihsanoglu’s campaign launch speech thought about asking him if his commitment to the “Palestinian cause” included any affirmation of the Hamas Charter, in particular a section that says, “…The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslims, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”
Turkey is also the country where a few years earlier, a group of school teachers (yes, school teachers!) gathered in a demonstration to commemorate Hitler.
Part II of this mini-series ended with a colorful quote from the Turkish Kurdish pop star, Yıldız Tilbe, whose tweets wished God to “bless Hitler,” and predicted that, “It will be Muslims again who will bring the end of Jews.” Perhaps Ms. Tilbe thinks (or hopes) Hitler was Muslim.
No doubt, thanks to her tweets, she has the talent to rise even higher in the hall of fame. Such tweets are absolutely normal in a country where the Islamists’ occasional after-Friday-prayers slogan, “Now I understand Hitler,” has always won hearts and minds. It is also the country where, a few years earlier, even a union of school teachers (yes, school teachers!) gathered in a demonstration “to commemorate Hitler.”
But we all know Turkey well enough to guess that the Hitler-fetish is not a reflection of any possible feeling of admiration for the 20th century’s greatest psycho. Instead, it is a childish expression of the oriental thinking that adores “the enemy of my enemy.”
Last year, in the EU-candidate Turkey, a world-renowned pianist, Fazil Say, was sentenced to a (suspended) 10-month sentence for re-tweeting a few lines dubiously attributed to Omar Khayyam, a 12th century Persian polymath. The judges ruled that his tweets “endangered public order and peace by insulting religious values embraced by whole or a part of the society.”
In the “new Turkey,” where the abnormal is the new normal, Ms. Tilbe’s tweets blessing Hitler cannot have insulted the religious or ethnic values embraced by the extremely small part of the society — because they are too small.
So, in the EU-candidate Turkey, a pianist, Mr. Say, should be punished for his re-tweets, but a pop-singer, Ms. Tilbe, should be congratulated for her first-class racist hate-speech.
Renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say (right) was sentenced to 10-months in prison (suspended) for re-tweeting quotes attributed to the 12th century Persian polymath Omar Khayyam.
This is contagious. When, in society and politics, an abnormal practice becomes the norm, the abnormal becomes “the new normal.” Take Anti-semitism in Turkey, a craze becoming increasingly as trendy as a ‘selfie,’ and mixed up with opportunism. It can come from a bureaucrat who wants to win promotion; from a pop star who wants to look charming to the government to boost his or her popularity; from a corporate employee who wants a better position or salary. Or it can come from a politician who wants to address the largest possible chunk of the voter base.
For example, the opposition’s presidential candidate, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, otherwise a most refined gentleman with an impressive academic and diplomatic background. When asked by reporter from a state-run news agency to clarify his earlier statement that “Turkey should be impartial over Middle Eastern disputes,” he quickly sensed that this was a trick-question aimed at portraying him as an “unbiased man” in the Arab-Israeli dispute. But of course he was partial. He spoke for several minutes, listing his career achievements — proving how deeply he felt for the “Palestinian cause” — which included a decoration.
For understandable reasons, Mr. Ihsanoglu enjoyed reminding reporters of his “lifelong struggle devoted to the Palestinian cause.” He further decorated his campaign speech by adding that it was his honor to have prayed at the al-Aqsa mosque (in Jerusalem), and that the rest, for him, was unimportant.
No reporter present at Mr. Ihsanoglu’s campaign launch speech thought about asking him if his commitment to the “Palestinian cause” included an affirmation of the Hamas Charter, in particular a section that says, “The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the (last) Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”
How fabulous that, after a foreign minister whose greatest foreign policy goal is to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque “in the Palestinian capital Jerusalem,” now we have a presidential candidate who too is proud to have prayed at the same mosque.
Meanwhile, more and more Palestinians are dying as Turkish (and Arab and Persian) dignitaries remain wholeheartedly committed to the Palestinian cause — in words. But our Palestinian brothers keep on dying happily, do they not, for us? Is that not a stairway to heaven? And all while the poor victims’ masters and brothers remain so proud to be committed to the Palestinian cause.
(to be continued)
Burak Bekdīl, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily News and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
To be a Jew in the UK and in Europe is to be constantly defensive and apologetic, hoping against hope that the non-Jews will continue to tolerate us even if we love and support Israel.
It is now almost three years since I moved with my family to the United States. Life for a Jew in the USA is markedly different to the European experience. American Jews are proud of being Jewish, understandably, and project that pride without equivocation. The idea that you would take off your kippa to avoid anti-Semitism, for example, is a complete anathema to American Jews, although removing your kippa in public is absolutely normal for a Jew in Europe. American Jews are deeply entrenched in the political system as Jews, and they show public support for candidates who advocate for Jewish causes and for Israel. In Europe, Jews involved in politics constantly hedge their views so that they are seen as neutral on “Jewish issues.”
I have discovered that American voters, including Jews, feel that it is their right and duty to actively engage in political issues to ensure that the right candidates are elected to public office, or in other words, people who represent the views of those who vote for them, and support them. Every voter is expected to lobby, and Jews do so with vigor and in full public view. In the case of Israel, the Jewish lobby, made up of tens of thousands of unpaid citizen lobbyists, namely Jewish and pro-Israel Christian voters, argue that their cause is not just good for them, but for the national interests of the United States as a whole.
Very soon after I arrived in Los Angeles I became involved with AIPAC. This incredible organization runs an annual Policy Conference in Washington, DC, attended by more than 14,000 people. This past March, I led a group of high school kids from Los Angeles to the conference, as part of an effort to educate teenagers about their civic rights, that include the right to lobby for issues they care about right at the heart of government. Our group of 40 boys and girls – the largest high school group to attend – met with multiple senators and congressmen, and attended sessions addressed by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
THE FINAL session at the conference was attended by almost every member of Congress. As I sat there listening to unashamed public support for Israel by Jews and non- Jews, all of them senior politicians and leading public figures, and as I listened to the thunderous applause that followed each pro-Israel soundbite, I was struck by how such an event could simply never happen in the UK.
No British cabinet minister would stand up in front of 14,000 people and say that the future of his country is tied to the future of Israel. No British Christian leader would declare that “Israel is not the problem – the problem is the Arab rejection of Israel’s right to exist!” Even 25 years ago that would have been unbelievable. Today it would be totally impossible.
That’s when the penny dropped. To be a Jew in the UK and in Europe is to be constantly defensive and apologetic, hoping against hope that the non-Jews will continue to tolerate us even if we love and support Israel, and even if we have Jewish-sounding names. It dawned on me that as the memory and guilt of the Holocaust slips ever further into history, the age-old European anti-Semitism, dormant for decades, has re-emerged and is growing, like a cancerous tumor eagerly destroying any healthy tissue in its way.
European Jews might say that there have never been more children attending Jewish day schools, and that Jewish social and communal life in Europe is thriving and vibrant. And they might point out that in the United States things are not perfect either. College campuses across the US are rife with student groups advocating for BDS, and President Barack Obama is largely perceived as being far less supportive of Israel than his immediate predecessors were. But such a reaction is naïve and misguided.
Life in pre-war Europe, in countries such as Holland, Belgium, France and Hungary, was thriving and vibrant too. They had schools, synagogues, cultural centers, yeshivot, and every other kind of communal organization and institution. In fact they had far more than exists in Europe today.
Of course historical analogies are never very accurate, as no two situations are absolutely alike. It is certainly true that mainstream politicians in Europe, unlike the politicians of the pre-war period, are extremely wary of anti-Semitism, and it is not politically acceptable to propose the persecution of Jews. But, frankly, from my vantage point here in Los Angeles it seems that power is inexorably ebbing away from mainstream European politicians. This is most evident in France where, notwithstanding any public criticism by French leaders of anti-Semites, it is clear that the streets of France belong to Muslim hate-mongers. Muslim demonstrators frequently chant, “France is ours, France belongs to us!” and many French Jews believe that it won’t be long before this prediction becomes a reality.
France is sleepwalking into a reverse takeover by Islamic fanatics, much as Germany allowed itself to be hijacked by the Nazis, and Russia allowed itself to become the bastion of autocratic communism.
Which brings me to my final point. Europe has shown that it is powerless to address the rise of Islamic assertiveness and aggression. We are seeing changes occur that threaten the national identities of European nation states.
No one is immune, and certainly not my own country of birth, the United Kingdom, where a marriage of convenience between Muslim fanatics, the hard Left, right-wing anti-Semites and anti-war campaigners has seen the growth of a multi-headed anti-Semitic hydra that it would be folly to dismiss or ignore.
Almost 10 years ago, when dangerous anti-Semitism first reared its ugly head in France, and the late Ariel Sharon suggested that French Jews should move to Israel, I wrote an article arguing that for the Jews of France to move to Israel as a way of staying safe would be foolish, seeing as Israel remains in the crosshairs of some of the most evil people on the planet, and – at a time when Israeli Jews were being regularly massacred by suicide bombers – perhaps French Jews would be wiser to stay put.
But it was I who was foolish. The one country in the world that has proved time after time that it is willing to defy every kind of taboo, and to use all its resources, to defend the life of any and every Jew, not just in Israel, but across the world, is the State of Israel. And incredibly, the one western democracy that understands this fully, and supports it unequivocally, is the United States of America.
Last month the black flag was flown from a car in London’s Blackwall tunnel as East End Muslims blocked the traffic. At the entrance to a council estate in East London earlier this month there were anti-Israel banners and Palestinian flags. And then, on top of the lot, the black flag of jihad was flown. In Oxford Street last week Islamic extremists set up stall to try to recruit people to rally around the black flag of ISIS.
The black flag is not about Jewish people. Today in Iraq and Syria it is about Christians who ISIS is forcing to convert to Islam at gunpoint or face beheading. Many Christians are being killed by ISIS for refusing to renounce their faith. On some occasions Christians have tried to save their lives by “converting” at gunpoint and ISIS have killed them anyway.
And this is not only about Christians. It is also about other minority faiths in Islamist dominated countries. In Iraq it is also about the Yazidis, the Mandeans and other ancient beliefs which predate Islam.
The ambition of the jihadists – from al-Qaeda to Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram and more – is to subjugate the entire world.
It is now the duty of all decent people – including decent Muslims – to turn on these barbarians and make it clear they will not win.
Rather than offer up beleaguered Israel we should send another message. That the extremists will not win in their desire to take over Israel anymore than they will win in their stated desire to raise the black flag of jihad over Rome, Washington, Downing Street and Buckingham Palace.
Israel is not the cause of the world’s problems. It is simply on the front line of them.
But increasingly so are we all. And if we abandon Israel today then one day – too late – we will realise that in fact what we abandoned was ourselves.
“Before this I just thought Students for Justice in Palestine was crazy but I didn’t know it would lead to violence.”
A Jewish student on the campus of Temple University was assaulted on Wednesday afternoon and called “kike” and “baby killer” by members of the anti-Semitic student group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Daniel Vessal, a Camera on Campus fellow and a member of the Jewish fraternity AEPi, was punched in the face by a violent member of the anti-Israel organization SJP at “Templefest” which is organized for students on campus to gain new information about campus clubs a week before the start of classes. Vessal is a managing information systems major at the Fox School of Business at the university.
“I’m walking down Polett Walk, one of the main walkways through Temple University and I see the SJP table,” Vessal told TruthRevolt from a local area hospital. “I go up to them and I really just wanted to see what angle they were coming from. I went up to the table and started talking to them. I said, ‘listen, you shouldn’t be protesting Israel- if anything protest the terrorists.’”
“This one girl sitting at the end of the table was just laughing and laughing at me,” he explained “As she was laughing at me, people at the table were calling me a ‘baby killer,’ I said when she stops then maybe we could have a genuinely peaceful conversation.”
“And then this kid just rocks me in the face as hard as he can. My glasses flew off. After a two-second blur I had no clue what had happened. I couldn’t believe the kid actually hit me,” said Vessal who added that he needs to obtain a new pair of glasses due to the extensive damage.
“When the police came over and were filing the report the kids at the table were screaming ‘You Zionist pig, you racist, that’s what you get,’” Vessal explained. “If anything, I thought they would be apologetic for someone in their organization doing something like that.”
Anti-Israel protesters demonstrated outside Geneva’s main synagogue.
A Swiss watchdog group said the weekend protests in front of the Beth Yaakov, or Grande, Synagogue were the first public displays of hostility in Switzerland toward Israel since the conflict with Gaza began in early July.
A veiled woman carried a sign reading “Every synagogue is an Israeli embassy” and waved a Palestinian flag on Saturday morning, according to the Intercommunity Coordination Against Anti-Semitism and Defamation watchdog organization, or CICAD. The same protester returned that night accompanied by three men, the group said.
A second woman wearing a Palestinian flag around her neck tried unsuccessfully to enter the synagogue, according to the watchdog. The protesters told police that they have a right to protest and threatened to return the following Saturday.
“With this first public demonstration of hostility towards the Jewish community in Geneva since the beginning of the conflict in Gaza, an unacceptable step was taken,” CICAD said. “Synagogues should not become the new places of expression of hatred against Israel.”
CICAD called on local politicians, including those who support the Palestinian cause, to denounce this kind of action against the Jewish community and for authorities to take action to protect the Jewish community.