Casablanca- A global Jewish human rights organization addressed a letter to king Mohamed VI urging him stop a draft law that seeks to criminalize normalized relations with Israel.
The draft law aims to strengthen the legal arsenal against “trade”, “financial”, “banking” and “insurance operations” with Israel.
A restriction would also be placed on “the participation of Moroccans, both those residing in the Kingdom or in Israel, in activities held in the Jewish state.
According to the draft law, which was presented by five parliamentary groups, the presence of Israelis in Morocco would be strictly prohibited, and would be deemed an “offense” punishable by “two to five years of imprisonment and a fine between MAD 100,000 and MAD 1 million.”
Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, sent the letter to King Mohammed VI during his visit to the United States.
In his letter, Dr. Shimon raised alarm about risks posed by the law on Morocco’s image as a country of tolerance best known for its warm ties with Jewish community around the world: “in your absence, various groups in your Parliament plan to damage Morocco’s reputation for tolerance, its standing as a Western ally and its long history of warm ties with the Moroccan Jewish Diaspora in the United States, Europe and Israel.”
He recalled Morocco’s welcome of the Jews in the fifteenth century when they were expelled from Spain, along with the Muslims, and sought refuge in the country: “in 1492, your dynasty welcomed Muslim refugees, together with their Jewish neighbors, both expelled from Christian fundamentalist Spain. These Jewish immigrants contributed greatly to Morocco’s prosperity, just as their departure resulted in a sharp decline in Spanish power”.
He also recalled that King Mohamed V, the grandfather of the current king, protected the Jews from the Nazi during the tough times of the second world war, highlighting that “over 250,000 of your former subjects still recall with affection the World War II protection they enjoyed from your grandfather, King Mohammed, in the face of the anti-Semitic laws of the Vichy-France administration. Thousands of Jews, most of them Israeli, now annually visit Morocco as tourists, pilgrims to Jewish grave-sites or business and cultural delegations.”
The SWC’s director went on to explain the content of the draft law when he said,“ Your Majesty, behind your back, a number of political parties aim to ram through Parliament a law, entitled ‘Criminalizing Normalization with the Israeli Entity.’ The law intends to prohibit all participation in activities of Moroccan citizens and residents in which Israelis or Israeli organizations are involved, with punishments of 2 to 5 years imprisonment plus fines of 10,000 to 100,000 euros. The relations to be penalized are listed as ‘economic, political, cultural, artistic or other contacts’”
He also indicated the impact the draft bill could have, if approved, on the Moroccan economy and it image at the global level: “this law would not only endanger the Jews remaining in Morocco, it would set a precedent for the exclusion of other minorities, thereby wrecking Your Majesty’s 2011 newly enacted human rights based Constitution. Indeed, it may also deter foreign investment prospects, both current and future”.
Dr. Shimon Samuelsargued that “the proposal includes ‘a declaration of diplomatic war’ against all countries that have citizens holding Israeli nationality, as well as against all Moroccans with family ties in Israel, in violation of anti-discrimination provisions of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), where Morocco holds an observer status.”
He concluded by urging the king to interfere in order to stop the draft law and ensure that “this unconstitutional and damaging draft law remains a draft.”
Meanwhile, the controversial bill continues to raise concern in Israel. Joel Rubinfeld, co-chairman of the European Jewish Parliament condemns the draft law because it “threatens the opening of Morocco to Israel,” adding that “we must not allow radicalism to take over us.Jewish News One, an English news channel deemed the proposed bill as “anti-Semitic”.
On the other hand, Jacky Kadoch, president of the Jewish community in Marrakech-Essaouira insisted that the said bill does not have the slightest chance of being passed in the House of Representatives, believing that “the king will never approve of this law.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a global Jewish human rights organization that fights anti-Semitism. According to the center’s official website, the rights group is accredited as an NGO at international organizations, including the United Nations, UNESCO, OSCE, Organization of American States (OAS), the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO) and the Council of Europe. Based in Los Angeles, the Center maintains offices in New York, Toronto, Miami, Chicago, Paris, Buenos Aires, and Jerusalem.
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