by: Kate Norman
Monday, 14 December 2020 | Starting next term, the curriculum for Moroccan primary school students will include Jewish history and culture—a significant first in the region.
On Thursday, Morocco made headlines around the world, as US President Donald Trump announced that the kingdom was the fourth Muslim-majority nation to normalize ties with Israel since August.
The North African nation officially followed the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in formalizing peace with the Jewish state.
Already the peace is proving to be more than formal or military cooperation.
The new education upgrade “has the impact of a tsunami,” the secretary-general of the Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco told AFP, calling it a “first in the Arab world.”
The decision was originally quietly announced last month in a joint statement by the American Sephardi Federation and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
“At the core of this effort is enhancing understanding and fostering the connection between Muslims and Jews,” Jewish leaders Malcolm Hoenlein and Jason Guberman wrote in the joint statement last month.
Hoenlein serves as the vice chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Guberman is the executive director of the American Sephardi Federation. Both organizations have, according to their joint statement, worked closely with the Moroccan kingdom and the Jewish community within Morocco.
“Ensuring Moroccan students learn about the totality of their proud history of tolerance, including Morocco’s philo-Semitism, is an inoculation against extremism,” the joint statement read.
Combat Anti-Semitism, a global movement, praised the move in a Twitter post that included the original joint statement.
“We warmly welcome Morocco’s decision to include Jewish–Moroccan history as part of its school curriculum,” the international organization said. “This action honors the rich history of Jewish life in Morocco and sets the stage for a bright future of continued coexistence.”
The North African nation has strong ties to the Jewish community, as thousands of Jewish people fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in Spain and Portugal found refuge in Morocco. Today in Israel, hundreds of thousands of Jews are of Moroccan Jewish ancestry. And some 3,000 Jews remain in the kingdom—the largest Jewish population in North Africa.
Israeli media is praising Moroccan King Mohammed VI for his positive history with his country’s Jewish minority. Most recently, the king attended the opening of Beyt Dakira, a Jewish community center in the coastal city of Essaouira. In the 18th century, Essaouira was the only city in the Islamic world boasting a Jewish majority population.
King Mohammed VI has also taken a stand against anti-Semitism in the international community, notably within the United Nations arena. Anti-Semitism, he wrote to the international body, is not merely a problem for the Jewish body to cope with, but highlights a society plagued by “failure, inadequacy and an inability to coexist.”
Highlighting Morocco’s Jewish history for the next generation is a natural step in the direction of peaceful coexistence.
Hoenlein and Guberman pointed out in their statement last month that the Moroccan curriculum upgrade was done quietly.
“Tellingly, the curriculum was released without outside prompting or fanfare in the Western press, a testament to this development being a genuine expression of Moroccan values,” the statement noted. “We hope other countries take note and emulate the Kingdom’s exceptional example.”
Posted on December 14, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 14, 2020)
Photo Credit: Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg)/wikimedia.org
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