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HOLOCAUST EDUCATION AND GENOCIDE PREVENTION

Morocco

Morocco is located in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region:  MENA refers to those states immediately west of India, including the states on the Arabian Peninsula, and the northernmost states in Africa. These states are grouped together because of their predominantly Muslim populations. The intention of this grouping is not to reify Muslim “difference” or to “orientalize” the region. Though there are clearly ethnic differences among the peoples of such a far-flung set of countries—the disparate ethnicities here include, for instance, Berbers, Arabs, Persians, and Afghans—relations between Muslims and Jews in the region have been exacerbated by the Arab-Israeli conflict. The conflict is the overriding prism through which most political leaders and at least a large portion of the citizenry view the Holocaust, if they have knowledge of it.

MOROCCO represents an important exception to the region’s outlook on Holocaust education. North Africa had, before World War II, a substantial Jewish population. Jewish communities existed in Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, and Morocco. Further, as Robert Satloff’s research on the “long reach of the Holocaust” demonstrates, Vichy France extended statuts de juifs (antisemitic legislation) into its North African colonies, and the Nazis forced Jews to work in labor camps in occupied Tunisia in 1942–43. read more

For many North African Arabs, however, this period of history has largely been effaced from public memory. In his search for evidence of Arabs who saved Jews during the war, Satloff was shocked to encounter “utter consternation among Arabs who had never before heard of the persecution of Jews in their countries during World War II.”

Morocco has traditionally had a significant Jewish population, numbering about 350,000 by World War II and about 5,000 today. Satloff has shown how Morocco’s wartime sultan, Mohammed V, worked to provide “vital moral support to the Jews of Morocco” behind the scenes. For this reason, “Moroccan Jewish lore celebrates Sultan Mohammed V as a savior, one of the finest, fairest, and most tolerant rulers Jews had ever known.”  Further, in the words of one journalist, Moroccans “proudly embrace their unique culture of diversity—built on a long tradition of Arab, Berber, Muslim, and Jewish co-existence.”  Referencing this history, King Mohammed VI affirmed the importance of Holocaust remembrance in March 2009. He referred to the Holocaust as “one of the blots, one of the most tragic chapters in modern history. Amnesia has no bearing on my perception of the Holocaust, or on that of my people.”

Even before this proclamation, Moroccan institutions had partnered with foreign organizations to develop Holocaust education infrastructure. For instance, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Library of Morocco formally agreed to “an exchange of archives related to Morocco’s reaction to the Holocaust” in 2008.  In November 2009, Yad Vashem brought Moroccan educators to Israel for a “tailor-made seminar on Holocaust education.”  In 2009 and 2010, the Mémorial de la Shoah trained Moroccan history teachers to teach about the Holocaust.  In 2010, the Anne Frank House brought an Arabic translation of the traveling Anne Frank exhibition to Rabat, marking the exhibition’s premier showing in the Muslim world.  The same year, the Aladdin Project and the National Library of Morocco held a two-day conference on the Holocaust.  Finally, in September 2011, Al-Akhawayn University convened a three-day conference on the Holocaust. The conference brought together Moroccan and American students, Holocaust scholars and survivors, and local Jewish leaders. The conference featured survivor testimony, scholarly panels, and visits to the Moroccan Jewish Heritage Museum in Casablanca. Building on the momentum of the previous endeavors, one of the panels engaged the question of “whether the Holocaust should be taught in public schools [in Morocco] and what the curriculum would consist of.”

RESOURCES

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ON HOLOCAUST EDUCATION: Trends, Patterns, and Practices,  a publication of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and  the Salzburg Global Seminar, 2013
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GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ON HOLOCAUST EDUCATION: Country updates 2014, published ahead of the Salzburg Global Seminar session Holocaust and Genocide Education: Sharing Experience Across Borders

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UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM:   Holocaust Encyclopedia Articles

Prisoners in the Im Fout labor camp
Close-up portrait of two prisoners in the Im Fout labor camp in Morocco.This photograph captures Sause (Sami) Dorra  (left) in 1941 imprisoned at Im Fout labor camp located ...
Posted Dec 6, 2012, 7:37 AM by Dana Burns

Laurette and Lucienne Moyal
Laurette and Lucienne Moyal pose with their Aunt, during the Jewish holiday of Purim. Mathilde Cohen Tagger was born in Tangiers on August 31, 1933, and is the daughter of ...
Posted Dec 6, 2012, 7:39 AM by Dana Burns

FELLOWS UPDATE

Abderrahim Chhaibi, Educational Psychology Trainer, CRMEF,

Abderrahim wrote an article about the situation of Jews living in Morocco during the rise of Nazi propaganda in North Africa between 1939-1944. Abderrahim also participated in a global forum organized by the Israeli foreign minister in Jerusalem on combating antisemitism. Abderrahim, along with a group of Moroccans, also planned on participating in a conference with the USHMM in Washington on Holocaust education and genocide prevention.