History and Culture of Moroccan Jews

History and Culture of Moroccan Jews, The Jews began to sail to the shores of West Africa, the Maghreb, about a thousand years before Christ.

The Jews (Canaanites, Phoenicians) founded several colonies there, which came under the authority of the most famous Jewish colony of the ancient world, Carthage.

The ancient Jews were part of the Phoenician (Canaanites) people, with no differences in language, religion, customs, or anything else.

Until 1950, the Moroccan Jewish Diaspora was considered one of the largest in the world. Now there are fewer than 5,000 Jews living in the country. There are about 700,000 Jews of Moroccan origin living in Israel.

But let us not forget that many of today’s Berbers and Tuaregs are descendants of Jews.

Jewish States in Morocco:

Under Roman rule (2nd century B.C. to 5th century A.D.) and the Vandals who succeeded them, the number of Jews in Morocco increased and their prosperity increased. The mass migration of Jews to Morocco began after the destruction of the Second Temple (70 A.D.). Many Jewish grave-stone inscriptions date from the 2nd century A.D. The situation worsened after Morocco came under Byzantine rule in 539. In the 7th century the Jewish population of Morocco increased at the expense of the Jews who fled Spain from the oppression of the Visigoth kings.

There were Jewish Berber kingdoms in North Africa for about 500 years, from Roman times until about the 12th century. The known kingdoms are: Borion, Nafusa, Ores, Ludalib, Al-Qurdan, Shiva, Talmesan, Wad-Draa, Tahir.

According to Arab historians at this time there were several Berber tribes in Morocco who practiced Judaism. In 698 the Jewish Berber tribe Jaraua, under the leadership of the last Berber “queen” of the Aures (Ores, in southeast Algeria) Dahiya al-Kahina defeated Arab forces, but in 703 Arabs defeated Berbers, and Dahiya al-Kahina was killed in battle.

But wars with Moroccan Jews did not cease until the 13th century.

So in 1492, an adherent of Sufism, Mohammed ibn Abd al-Karim al-Magili, taken out of equilibrium by the vicissitudes of Islam in Spain, began to preach a “holy war” against the Saharan Jews. In Tamentit and in Sijilmass, in Tafilalet and in Sudan, Jews who had not converted to Islam were slaughtered. Tamentit continued its trading activities.

Nevertheless, in Walat the Sudanese gold trade was monopolized by the Jews.

In the Draa valley almost all the jewelers are Jews, although it is still not established exactly when they settled here. A 12th century manuscript from Dades suggests that they lived here for about a thousand years.

According to the French Africanist Jacques Meunier, this manuscript confirms that in the first centuries AD the area of Dra was dominated by Jews and that it was later replaced by a powerful Christian state.

Apparently, it was in Zagora that the Jews gained their first victory over the natives, the Berbers, over whom they held power until the arrival of the Almoravids in the right from half of the 11th century to half of the 12th century.

The local Jews tell us that they settled in the Sahara Desert and Morocco because of Nebuchadnezzar’s attack on Jerusalem:

– ‘You see,’ says a Moroccan Jewish rabbi, ‘we are the oldest Jews in the south. It was a long and difficult passage for our ancestors who fled Palestine, captured by Nebuchadnezzar. They were the only ones who escaped after the destruction of the temple and escaped captivity in Babylon. They came from the tribe of Ephraim. Our forefathers underwent even greater suffering than that which the people of Israel endured at Sinai on their way to the Promised Land. They wandered through the Sahara for decades, homeless and miserable, thirsty, persecuted by fierce natives. When they reached the ocean, they settled in caves. Centuries later, a Jewish city appeared. which they called Little Jerusalem (present-day Ifrane in southern Morocco), for they built it in the image and likeness of the city they had left behind. They placed in the new synagogue the Talmud and sacred objects salvaged from Solomon’s temple. On parchment scrolls, the rabbis wrote down all the days of birth and death, so that the community might always know the origins of their fellow tribesmen. But three centuries ago, a Berber king who had entered Yifran burned the city and all the Jews who were there. The synagogue was looted and destroyed. And this time only a few Jews managed to escape, taking with them a few scrolls of law and civil records and finding shelter here in the oases of Oued Drah. Our dead and martyrs remained there, near Yifran, abandoned by all among the rocks, blown about by the wind. But if you go there, you will see old broken slabs with words carved on them. These inscriptions are two thousand years old… Some of our ancestors who escaped from Ifrane began to mine a large silver mine 13 kilometers from here. They grew rich and their morals became more and more free. They loved money more than God, forgetting the laws of the Talmud; their hearts became more cruel than those of Sodom. And God prepared the same fate for them: one day the city was burned and all the inhabitants died in the fire. Since then the place has been considered cursed, and no one dares return to the silver mine, not even Muslims.

The Tuaregs and Berbers are descendants of Jews and converts to Judaism:

The Daggatun (probably from the Arabic tughatun, “infidels”) are a nomadic tribe of Jewish origin living in the neighborhood of the Tementite in the Moroccan Sahara, within the oasis of Tuatha.

The first information about the Daggatuns is found in the description of R. Mordechai Aba-Sarour’s journey (1857) from Akka, Morocco, through the Sahara to Timbuktu in Bulletin de la Soci;t; de G;ographie, 1895, XII.

If we believe p. Mordechai, the settlement of the Daggatuns in the Sahara dates from the end of the seventh century, when Abd-al-Malik came to the throne, whose conquests extended throughout Morocco.

Under the influence of a fanatical clergy, Abd-al-Malik tried to convert all the inhabitants to Islam.

The Jews, who resisted stubbornly, were driven into the desert

Ajay. The Berber Tuaregs suffered the same fate, only some of whom converted to Islam.

Separated from contact with their brethren, the Daggatun in the Sahara gradually lost their Jewish customs, language, and religion, and quite merged with the Tuaregs, whose subjects they now belong to. The scanty data available in both the literary and physical monuments of Northwest Africa make it impossible to judge of the reliability of the local legend underlying the historical part of R. Mordechai’s story.

There is also no positive data on the present position of the Daggatunah. If we believe W. Horowitz (Morocco, 1887, 58), the number of Daggatuns reaches several thousands. They are scattered in different oases of the Sahara, even along the course of the Dilewa and Niger rivers. According to Horowitz, the D. are very hardy and warlike; they are in constant struggle with the Tuaregs.

Finally, M. Slouch, in an account of his trip to the Sahara (Nebrero-ph;niciens et judeo-Berbers, Paris, 1908) states that the Berber struggle not only with the Daggatun, but even with the Jews is pure fiction. According to him, Berbers still have many Jewish and Talmudic customs and rules, such as a typical custom in memory of the destruction of the Temple: the bride, on entering the bridegroom’s house for the first time, throws an egg against the wall, and it is forbidden to wash the stain, and many others.

Remaining officially on the ground of Islam, the Daggatuns at the first opportunity formed a peculiar sect, having little in common with the orthodox Arabs.

With the Jews the D. are on the best of terms, on account of which the Jews have retained in their hands the trade in the desert to this day.

Traces of Jewry are found all over the oases in the biblical and Jewish names of places, as “Tell-el-Jehudidjah,” in the vicinity of Meurata, in the Jewish queen Fanana, known in numerous Bedouin and Berber legends, in inscriptions, etc. All this, as well as the presence of a large number of Jewish tales collected from Basset in Nedromah, indicates that in the pre-Islamic period many Berber tribes converted to Jewry and merged with the Jews, until the victorious invasion of the Arabs forced them to convert to Islam.

Many Tuaregs and Berbers are of Jewish descent. We must help our brothers to return to the faith in God!

That is why Israel is very friendly with a Tuareg-Berber country like Mauritania.

According to Al-Jazeera, it is no coincidence that Israel is closely following the developments in Nouakchott, because the coup plotters overthrew one of the few friends of the Jews in the Arab world, the President of Mauritania, Maaouia Sid Ahmed Tayyah.

Tayyah had established close ties with Israel several years ago, prompting resentment from some parts of Mauritanian society and alienation from the Arab and, more broadly, Muslim community, the Qatari TV channel’s website notes.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev told Al-Jazeera on Thursday that his country’s leadership is “closely monitoring the situation in Nouakchott.”

Regev stressed that having an embassy in Mauritania, Israel is not making any contacts with the military junta. He also categorically denied the rumors circulating in the Islamic world that the main reason for the putsch was Tayyah’s close relations with the Jewish state.

On Thursday, the “Military Council for Justice and Democracy” announced Colonel Eli Ould Muhammad Wall as the country’s new president. Vall had previously been the longtime head of the Mauritanian National Police.

It is not yet clear what Wall’s views on Israel are. Nevertheless, the Israeli ambassador to Mauritania, Boaz Besmut Bismith, told Yediot Ahronot today that “the Israeli embassy is functioning normally. Bismith called Israel’s relations with this Arab country “very important.”

“This is a country in the Arab League, taking our side all the years of the intifada,” Bismith said. “Understandably, there are some who are not interested in our relations, but the connection with the government, the president and the people of Mauritania is very important.”

Israeli diplomacy has been more than successful: not only has it eliminated the external threat on its borders from Cairo and Amman, but it has secured from them international legal recognition of the existence of the State of Israel. But in addition to Egypt and Jordan, Israel established full diplomatic relations with another Arab country – the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

In November 1995, at a conference in Barcelona, it was decided to create the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership as a structural forum of EU policy for the Mediterranean region. At the same time, that event became the starting point of a new development in Arab-Israeli relations when the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and Israel concluded an agreement at a conference in Barcelona to open representative offices at the Spanish embassies in Tel Aviv and Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania.

As early as May 1996, a diplomatic mission of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania began its work in Tel Aviv, whose government expressed its desire to completely normalize relations with Israel. As some Israeli sources pointed out, diplomatic relations with the countries of the Maghreb are of particular importance because of the large number of natives of North Africa living in Israel. And this implies a so-called continuing emotional connection with the territories where their ancestors have lived for centuries.

After the American invasion of Iraq and the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s armies in April 2003, cooperation between Israel and Mauritania increased greatly. The then president of the country, Maouya Ould Tayyah, supported the actions of the American army in Iraq and even broke off diplomatic relations with the Hussein regime, which provoked the resentment of Mauritanian extremists. Naturally, this situation in the context of the unresolved Palestinian problem could not evoke a positive response from some Islamic radicals.

In June 2003, a group of armored and air force officers revolted. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz noted, “The attempted armed mutiny in Mauritania was linked to the pro-Israel and pro-American stance of President Maouya Ould Taïa. However, this, we believe, is not entirely true. The main reason is the low social standard of living and the corruption of the government. The fact is that the annual per capita income in Mauritania is $441, which is approximately $37 a month. Annually, the country receives from the world community 10 million dollars’ worth of aid, which of course goes to the government and not to the population. This is the opinion of Arvind Genesan, director of Human Rights Watch. He warns that oil revenues in the country can only be used to strengthen and enrich the government – to the detriment of the people and democracy. Fighting between government forces and the rebellious military in the capital of Mauritania lasted almost a day, but the authorities managed to bring the situation under control.

Comments are closed.
error: Content is protected !!
Open chat
Hi! do you need any help?
We are travel experts, let's plan your Morocco tour together