Morocco Jewish Leaders Praise King for Keeping Peace and Respect

Despite Hiccups, Largest Community in Arab World Safe

Good Times: Serge Berdugo, secretary general of the Moroccan Jewish community and a former minister of tourism, says things couldn’t be better for Jews in the North African land.
nathan guttman
Good Times: Serge Berdugo, secretary general of the Moroccan Jewish community and a former minister of tourism, says things couldn’t be better for Jews in the North African land.

By Nathan Guttman

Published November 23, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Serge Berdugo pulled out his iPad and quickly scrolled to a photo showing Yom Kippur services at a Moroccan synagogue.

“This is the whole story,” he said, pointing at a row of dignitaries sitting up front. Government officials, police officers and military commanders, all Muslim, come every year to honor the Jewish community on its holiest of days. The service is also carried live on the national TV.

For Berdugo, secretary general of the Moroccan Jewish community and a former minister of tourism, this is perhaps the most shining demonstration of just how well the Jews of this Arab country are being treated.

“Jews in Morocco are in the best situation that they can imagine,” said Berdugo in an interview that took place on Friday, hours before King Mohammed VI met at the White House with President Obama.

Berdugo, who also carries the tile of Ambassador at Large, was part of the official delegation visiting Washington. In his meetings with American and Jewish officials he portrayed Morocco as a heaven for religious tolerance at a time when its neighborhood is falling in the hands of extremists.

“The message is: it’s possible. It’s not a fairy tale, come and see for yourself,” added Ahmed Abbadi, a Muslim, who chairs King Mohammed’s council of religious scholars.

It is a message welcomed by Washington, which has been taking flak for not standing up to Islamist in post-Arab Spring Egypt and Tunisia. The model Morocco sought to present during the king’s visit was of an alternative to the anti-authoritative uprisings the Middle East and North Africa had experienced – one in which gradual reform and relative tolerance could prevent tensions from building up and maintain a pro-Western monarchy. Treatment of the Jewish community is a key test for this doctrine, and Morocco’s Jewish leader was in town to show that it works.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.