«Normalization with Morocco depends on the Palestine question», former Israeli diplomat says

Born in Morocco, former Israeli politician and ambassador to France and the United Nations, Yehuda Lancry addressed ties between Israelis of Moroccan Jewish descent and their country of origin. To him, normalization with Morocco depends on the Palestinian question.

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Former Israeli politician and diplomat Yehuda Lancry. / DR

«I have fond memories of Morocco and I still maintain good ties with the Kingdom and Moroccans», Yehuda Lancry, a former Israeli politician and ambassador to France and the United States, told Israeli channel i24 News Sunday.  

The Moroccan-born former diplomat recalled that his family left Morocco for Israel in 1965. Born in Bouja'd, a small city in the Khouribga province, Lancry said that he was «sad» and «forced» to leave Morocco that he felt so «attached» to.

«The remaining Jewish community in Morocco has the same rights as other Moroccans, under the kind-heartedness of King Mohammed VI», he added.

Lancry, who is a member of the World Union of Moroccan Judaism (UMJM), recalled how «King Mohammed V, the grandfather of King Mohammed VI, was the one who refused to implement the restrictions of the Vichy government», regarding Moroccan Jews.  

Moroccan Jews and ties with Morocco

«He saved the Jews of Morocco and refused to apply Nazi laws on them», he said, recalling that the late sovereign had also «refused to send Jews to concentration camps». «This is why we have so much respect for the royal family and the Moroccan people», he added.

«In some houses, second and third generation Moroccan Jews hang portraits and photos of King Mohammed V, King Hassan II and King Mohammed VI on their walls. It reflects the relationship they have with Morocco. Moreover, they also celebrate Moroccan holidays, such as Mimouna. Our food is also part of the Moroccan cuisine».

Yehuda Lancry

The former Israeli politician did not fail to mention the situation of Moroccan Jews when they first came to Israel. «We hoped for full integration but there was discrimination which led to protests», he explained.

«By the end of the 1970s, communities in Israel reached a difficult situation. But since then, everything has changed and we have learned from our mistakes», he said.

Since then, Moroccan Jews and those of North African descent in general have managed to get to senior positions, he added, referring to Gadi Eizenkot, who was the 21st Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, and whose parents were Moroccan.

Jews of Moroccan origin, Palestine and normalization

When asked why several Jewish Moroccans have been joining Likud, a center-right to right-wing political party in Israel, the former diplomat said that this followed the disputes that erupted between the Jews already established in Israel and those who had just arrived.

«Moroccan Jews and those of Eastern origins supported peace with Egypt and with Jordan», he recalled.

On this issue, Yehuda Lancry referred to the intervention of King Hassan II who «mediated for a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt».

«Hassan II played a primordial role at the time. He made sure that the process was taking place and spared no effort to intervene. We met him three months before his death. He called us to take the model of coexistence between Jews and Muslims in Morocco and apply it at home in Israel and we had made progress thanks to this advice, especially during our first contacts with the Palestinians».

Yehuda Lancry

As for normalization with Israel, the diplomat explained that the Palestinian question is a big component of this issue. «Personally, I do not think there will be a single Arab state that will take a step forward when it comes to normalization with Israel before resolving this issue», he said.

«It all depends on the peace operation with the Palestinians and progress made in this process will inevitably lead to more openness», he stressed.

Regarding the latest rumors about Morocco's refusal to receive Benjamin Netanyahu after his meeting with the US Secretary of States Mike Pompeo in Portugal, Yehuda Lancry said that : «talking about Netanyahu's visit to Morocco was precocious».

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