In the middle of a complex international situation due to Covid-19 and the conflicts it produced, a disruptive action changed many points of view, at least in the Middle East.
The Abraham Accord –or the Israel – United Arab Emirates peace agreement- is a milestone in the Middle East’s relationships, mainly if we consider that the last peace treaty was signed with the Kingdom of Jordan in 1994.
This reminds us not only the Abrahamic covenant if not the numerous connecting points between the Middle East and its people.
United Arab Emirates, a recently independent country -1971- like the State of Israel -1948- considering it in a modern conceptualization of nation States has inaugurated what could be a gradual and successful path in order to establish solid peace relationships in the region. And this could be true if we consider the reactions of countries like Bahrain or Oman.
If the annexation brought many internal and international conflicts this treaty could create a comprehensive cosmovision, making possible understanding the characteristics and needs of the parties and changing the worldview on the issue. It will be necessary the establishment of a new logic that implies common values and history.
And, precisely, the history of the Holocaust brings us a significant example of coexistence, protection and brotherhood.
Jewish Moroccans have lived there for many centuries, even during Carthage times. In fact, when the Alhambra Decree expelled the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492, North African Jewish population increased significantly. This is how the local Jews, toshavim, incorporated the new Sephardim, megorashim. They never had a central community but they lived for centuries in the same neighborhoods. This is how the Moroccan Jewish population, before World War Second, raised until 300,000 –today they are, approximately, 4,000-. It’s important to know that thank to the status of Tangier -an international zone- many Jews escaped from Europe to Morocco and saved their lives.
And this interfaith connection was possible thank to the actions of Sultan Mohammed V. He assumed power at the age of 18 pushed by French pressure thinking he would be manipulated easily based on his youth.
When the country was under the collaborationist government of Vichy, the metropolis had a great surprise: even when the anti-Jewish legislation was official, Mohammed V refused to apply it.
It is famous his phrase “there are no Jews in Morocco, there are only Moroccan subjects“, the summary of his relationship with the central government. In fact, in 1985 there was found a diplomatic cable named “dissent” –May 24, 1941- where René Touraine, Vichy’s government official, expressed his feelings on the Sultan’s attitude due to the disobedience to apply the anti-Jewish law and reporting what happened during the annual banquet. On that day, the Sultan invited representatives from the Jewish local community and sat them next to the government officials, something unthinkable in central Europe those days.
It is also true that in different parts of Morocco anti-Jewish laws were passed and the population lived in designated neighborhoods, they couldn’t attend to school or university, but is also true that thank to the Sultan’s attitude, Jewish people weren’t forced to use public identifications, they weren’t deported or killed.
In fact in 1948, during the revolts in the Arab world due to the Independence of the State of Israel, Mohammed V remembered his people that the Jewish population should be protected because they were also Moroccan citizens. After the independence of Morocco and the establishment of the constitutional monarchy, the King died at the age of 51.
The moral of the story
Paraphrasing Mohammed V, there are no enemies, just Middle East’s habitants and like what happened during the Holocaust with the Jews of Morocco, where the government protected them honoring their common origin, today we must remember this history of understanding, coexistence and peace creating a democratic and plural way of thinking in order to believe that the establishment of diplomatic relationships in Middle East is a realistic possibility.
Frequently, political decisions –like what Mohammed V did- meant significant actions for the population and today, more than ever, we must claim for a democratic, peaceful, comprehensive and plural coexistence in the Middle East.