The former Israeli ambassador to France and the UN was born in Morocco in 1947, a country of pride and coexistence for him and for the Jewish Moroccan community.
Rabat – Former Israeli politician and ambassador to France and UN Yehuda Lancry has spoken publicly about the attachment he and his family hold for Morocco, their birth country.
Lancry gave a candid interview to I24News, speaking about several issues, including his personal connection to Morocco, normalization claims between Morocco and Israel, and the Palestinian cause.
The Moroccan-born Israeli politician started the interview by reminiscing about his childhood in Morocco and his attachment to the “country of coexistence.”
The diplomat emphasized that he still has vivid memories of Morocco, where he was born in 1947 and lived until the age of 17.
Morocco: strategic, model country of coexistence
The former ambassador emigrated to Israel with his family in 1960 to fulfill his family’s ambition of going “home.”
“I was lucky to be raised in Morocco for 17 years before we left to Israel. It was necessary for us to leave because it was my family’s ambition,” he said.
Lancry acknowledged that his family’s return to Israel was painful.
“We are so attacked in the country. Morocco was and is still a strategic country of coexistence between Muslims and Jews.”
He noted that there is still a small Jewish community living in Morocco.
“They enjoy all rights and equality under the leadership of King Mohammed VI.”
A Jewish community estimated at 1,800 live across Morocco, especially in the larger cities in places called Mellah, or walled cities.
The walled cities exist in Fez, Meknes, Casablanca, and Sale.
Despite migrating to Israel, Lancry maintains “strong” relations with “distinguished” people in Morocco.
Without giving examples, the former Israeli official said he is still in touch with these individuals on a daily basis.
“I had the chance to have relationships with Moroccan ambassadors at the UN in France as well as officials that I count as friends,” he said.
Lancry, who is also a member of the international Moroccan Jewish assembly, said that the Moroccan Jewish community holds eminent respect for Morocco, its King, and peoples.
“We have eminent respect for the dear Moroccan people. We adore Moroccan people. We were raised within the people,” he said emphasizing that this is why the community and people who emigrated back to Israel maintain such a strong relationship with families and friends in Morocco.
Lancry said that Moroccan-Jewish people are proud of their identities as Moroccans, underlining that the Jewish community has been living in Morocco for a 1,000 years.
“Jewish people have been living in Morocco for 1,000 years. Every Moroccan is proud of his identity. Moroccan Jews are still celebrating some of the events, such as miamouna, a Moroccan ceremony” which is part of Morocco’s Jewish culture, he argued.
He also explained that Moroccan families in Israel retain cultural links with Morocco through cooking and food.
“Our food is Moroccan food. Every family in Israel knows Moroccan cuisine,” he said.
Lancry emphasized that he and his family believe that their first country is Morocco, the country of coexistence. “I was born in Morocco, my wife was born in Morocco.”
The former Israeli diplomat said that he supports the peace process to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, acknowledging the complexity of the dispute.
He said that several Israeli officials promote peace between the two peoples, stating that the conflict is experiencing political stagnation.
“We .. I personally met with Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials. The political dryness between the two governments prevails. There is no development in the political process.”
Lancry did not feel able to comment on the rumors of Arab-Israeli normalization, denying the existence of normalization negotiations.
The interviewer suggested that some Arab countries, especially in the Gulf are normalizing relations with Israel secretly, however, Lancry argued that the Arab states’ solidarity with the Palestinian cause will impede normalization.
“There is no Arab country including Gulf that has started to normalize [ties with Israel] as what we hear and say,” he said, emphasizing that Arab states will not move towards normalization while the Israeli-Palestine conflict persists.
He emphasized that peace is the only thing that will ensure openness between Arabs and Israel.
For Morocco, the Palestinian cause is a red line that cannot be ignored. Morocco has long shown full solidarity with Palestine and its people’s legitimate right to an independent state with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
Under King Mohammed VI, the country’s government has reiterated its firm and principled position in all relevant regional and international forums.
Recently, however, Israeli media launched a campaign claiming that Morocco was shifting towards normalization.
Some media took claims too far, suggesting that King Mohammed VI would welcome Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu during the visit of Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State to Morocco in December.
Lancry commented on the claims, saying that “it too early” to expect Morocco to accept and welcome the Israeli PM.
Israeli TV Channel 12 reported in December that Netanyahu asked Pompeo if he could join him on his visit to Morocco.
The Moroccan monarch, however, “vetoed the idea,” according to the Times of Israel who cited Moroccan diplomatic sources.