The chief rabbi of Panama recalled King Mohammed V’s pivotal role in protecting Jews in Morocco during World War II.
Rabat – The chief rabbi of Panama, David Perets, celebrated Morocco’s history of religious tolerance during a Jewish celebration in Panama City on Thursday, March 5.
Panama City hosted a Hiloula on Thursday to honor the death of Rabbi Isaac Bin Walid (1777-1870), who is buried in the northern Moroccan city of Tetouan.
During the festivities, Rabbi Perets highlighted the history of the Jewish community in Morocco, acknowledging the Moroccan monarchy’s role in maintaining religious coexistence in the predominantly Muslim nation.
The Panamanian rabbi went on to recall King Mohammed V’s pivotal role in protecting Jews in Morocco during World War II.
When Morocco was a French protectorate, the Nazi-controlled Vichy government demanded that King Mohammed V implement anti-Jewish laws and send the country’s 250,000 Jews to concentration camps in Europe.
In a move that set a historic precedent for the future rulers of Morocco, King Mohammed V told the Nazi regime: “There are no Jewish citizens, there are no Muslim citizens. They are all Moroccans.”
“Our parents tell us about the wisdom and courage shown by the late King Mohammed V and his position towards the Vichy regime when he refused to hand over Moroccan Jews at a time when neighboring countries, as well as European states, did not have the same wisdom,” Perets remarked.
Continuing the legacy of his grandfather, King Mohammed VI consistently demonstrates respect for the role of Judaism in Morocco.
As Morocco’s Commander of the Faithful, King Mohammed VI defines the country’s position towards its religious communities.
Perets believes the King “has become a symbol and a model throughout the world” for his treatment of Morocco’s minority religious groups, adding that the Sovereign’s concern for his country’s Jewish community is “distinguished” and “worthy of appreciation and emulation.”