By Youssef El Kaidi
By Youssef El Kaidi
Morocco World News
Fez, February 12, 2013
Jacob Cohen is a French-Moroccan Jew. He was born on August 15, 1945 in Meknes, Morocco. Jacob Cohen is a novelist and author of seven novels, the eighth to be published soon. A polyglot, a translator, and a former assistant professor in the faculty of law in Casablanca, Jacob Cohen is currently living in France and lobbying radically against Zionism and the policy of Israel. In an interview with ‘Mamfakinch’ news outlet, he touches upon a range of critical issues related to the Arabo-Israeli conflict, Moroccan Jews, their immigration to Israel after 1948, and their life in Morocco prior to their mass immigration.
As to his views on Moroccan Jews, Jacob Cohen believes that much has been done by Nationalist Parties, particularly the Istiqlal party, to have the Jews quit Morocco. The question “why did the Jews leave Morocco?” is very recurrent today in media and academia but the answer succumbs to the ideological backgrounds of the ones who answer it. Some people say the Jews were forced to leave Morocco and others say they chose to leave voluntarily to fulfill the Belfour Declaration of establishing a “national home” for the Jewish people in Palestine.
Jacob Cohen says in the interview that we usually tend to shun truth in this matter; “so what is the truth? It is that many nationalist forces –particularly the Istiqlal party, did their best to have the Jews leave.” They took some administrative measures to hinder the economic activities of the Jewish businessmen who were very prosperous. This policy “was a total success” since “99.5% of Moroccan Jews have immigrated.” This issue is rendered in his novel Les noces du commissaire where he recounts the story of a Moroccan Jew who invested his money and built a fortune to, finally, find himself obliged to leave. “What interests me in this character is that he played the game of his country, Morocco. That is to say, he invested, he built a holding and this was a real story. Yes, this is a novel but the story is true. This Jew built the biggest holding in Morocco but finally he found himself obliged to give up.”
Jacob Cohen claims that Moroccan Jews were perceived as economic competitors by the Fass families and, thus, the latter did their best to make the Jews feel they were not Moroccan and ultimately leave the country. According to Cohen’s account, these practices made the Jews gradually get convinced that Morocco was not a safe home and consequently decide to leave, if not to Israel, to other countries such as Canada, France, etc.
The authorities in Morocco could do nothing to stop the immigration of the Jews because there was an immense pressure from the Mossad. Accordingly, Jacob Cohen states, “the monarchy in Morocco had no choice but to surrender to the dictates of the Zionists; that is to say, to ‘lesser partir les juifs’ (let the Jews pass).”
It should be noted that Morocco’s Jewish population exceeded 250,000 in the 1940s. Today approximately 5000 Jews live in the country while in Israel Moroccan Jews constitute the second largest Jewish community after the Russian Jews.