Istanbul - Migration, the mass movement of communities for natural, economic, political, religious reasons or because of oppression, dates back almost as far as the history of mankind.
Istanbul – Migration, the mass movement of communities for natural, economic, political, religious reasons or because of oppression, dates back almost as far as the history of mankind.
It is certainly a difficult thing to leave the land where one was born and is familiar with and to move somewhere entirely different. Forced relocation is the most ruthless and painful form of migration.
World history is full of stories of forced migration in which millions of people were obliged to leave their homes and live in places they had never been before. The violence and troubles suffered by these people forced from their lands, homes, cultures, possessions and belongings, and forcibly assimilated in the places they were exiled to, is one of the worst disgraces in history.
Factors such as a desire for land, material or political interests, interventions by foreign powers, enmities based on differences of belief, racism or some societies regarding themselves as superior to others have caused deep wounds and losses to humanity throughout the course of history.
The material and psychological sufferings of people forced from their lands, deprived of their roots and struggling to survive in their new homes are a historical reality that must not be forgotten today, when the concept of ‘human rights’ is becoming increasingly important and the evils of the past are condemned by the states of the world.
The hundreds of cases of forced relocation include those of the Circassians, the Irish, the Africans and the Native Americans. During the forced relocation by Russia of the peoples of the northern Caucasus, hundreds of thousands of people were torn from their homes and forced to live in places they had never seen before. More than 100,000 Irish adults and children were sent as indentured servants to the West Indies, Virginia, England, Barbados and Jamaica. ‘
During colonial times, millions of Africans were loaded onto ships and forcibly sent to America as outright slaves. Native Americans were relocated from their traditional homelands by white Europeans and Americans onto ‘reservations.’
Another suffering people who were forcibly relocated, not once but many times, are the Jews. No other people have ever suffered exile to the same extent as the Jews. The Jews have been ruthlessly treated and slaughtered and have been forced out of almost everywhere they have ever lived.
With the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, the Jews, who had lived in various Arab lands for 2,500 years, were targeted by their own governments in their own lands and forced to migrate under the threat of death. Despite having lived under Arab rule for hundreds of years, approximately one million Jews were forced to live as refugees as of that time. They were forced to migrate, leaving behind their lands and possessions. According to figures from the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC), the total worth of the assets of the Jews exiled from Arab countries exceeds $300 billion. The approximate total size of the real estate left behind in Arab countries is 100,000 square kilometers.
A large part of the Jews who have been forced into exile over the course of history found safety in present-day Morocco. Jews, exiled from the Roman Empire in the 1st century and from Spain and Portugal in the 14th and 15th centuries, have lived in Morocco for more than 2,000 years. Following the foundation of the state of Israel, however, under the influence of Arab socialism and increasing anti-Semitism in Morocco, these lands were no longer a place of safety for the Jews.
The year of Israel’s foundation, most of the Jewish population in Morocco, approximately 265,000 people, was again forced into waves of migration. The discriminatory laws against the Jews introduced by the odious Vichy Regime that ruled the country during the Second World War and the pogroms in Oujda and Jarada in 1948, which resulted in the deaths of 44 Jews, led to the Jews abandoning the country and resettling in Israel. By the 1970s, the Jewish population in the country had shrunk to 25,000. That number continued to fall. The number of Jews living in Morocco today is around 2,500.
Following damage to a Jewish community center during suicide bombings in Casablanca 12 years ago, in which 40 people died and some 100 were injured, and the desecration of a cemetery, Israeli government officials called on all Jews in Morocco to resettle in Israel. However, the Jews preferred to remain in Morocco after the attacks. Indeed, the general secretary of the Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco said that the Jews were very comfortable in the country and had no problems there.
The Jews today in Morocco, with its 98% Muslim population, are living in peace and safety, and experience no difficulties in their daily lives. The people are delighted to live all together. Moroccan Muslims say that they miss the lives they shared with the Jews who left the country years before, and that Morocco is no longer the place it was in the wake of those migrations. Many Moroccan Jews forced to migrate to Israel have maintained the customs they acquired in Arab lands. They frequently visit Morocco and try to maintain their bonds with their roots.
Morocco, home to members of different faiths and cultures, has matured and developed through the sufferings of the past. Excellent steps have been taken aimed at eradicating the sufferings of the past, and Moroccan Jews and Muslims have maintained and strengthened their bonds of friendship. Young Muslims and Jews can further strengthen the spirit of love and brotherhood of the land where they belong through a new conception of union, unity and friendship, and can together help Morocco toward a bright future.
In that way, Morocco can guide the world as a model in which people from different faiths holding different opinions can embrace one another as brothers and live together in peace and security and show that love and brotherhood are the best way to build an enlightened civilization. André Azoulay, a Jew who is a senior adviser to the king of Morocco for many years and is active in dialogue between faiths and cultures, is one of those who says that the whole world should adopt the Moroccan ‘model of cohabitation in peace’ as a role model. We hope that more will be heard of Morocco as a place where friendship prevails everywhere, where differences unite together rather than fighting, and where people of all beliefs can live together in peace, and we hope that Morocco can be a pioneer of world peace.