"Al Alam" January 8, 1989

The national press and the Palestinian crisis

Palestine is rooted in the heart of all the Arabs, from the Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean; its liberation continues to occupy the spirit of the Moslem communities all over the world until it will be fulfilled, with the assistance of God. It is therefore not astonishing that it takes a priviledged place in the preoccupations of the Arab Moslem press.

As regards more particularly the object of this study, it should be noted that the first issue of the newspaper "Almaghrib", at the beginning of its second year, coincided with the holding of a Conference on the problematic question of Palestine. The number 100 of Februar 4, 1939 had thus announced that the Conference on Palestine was going to meet on February 27, 1939 with the participation of all parties concerned, namely the Arabs of Palestine, the neighbouring principalities, Egypt, Irak, Hedjaz, Yemen, Transjordan, as well as representatives of the Jewish Communities of America, South Africa and the Jewish International Agency.

The director of the newspaper devoted to this Conference an article in number 102, clarifying the legitimate rights of the Arabs. He called upon the international community to settle peace and justice in this sacred area, and exhorted the participants in the Conference to orient their efforts in this direction. He wrote in particular:

"In spite of all the misfortunes undergone in a recent past, and the bursting triumph of the force on the right, all the persons who are faithful to Arabism and Islam hope of all their heart that the Conference leads to the restoration of peace and covers with an opaque curtain the events of which this region was the theater.even though the Arabs of Palestine have shown their courage and combative eagerness, proving to the whole world that they are disposed to make all the sacrifices needed if they are not treated with fairness and justice."

He studied then in depth the origin of the conflict as well as the objectives aimed by each group of participants: the Arabs who were firmly attached to their land and their rights; the Jews who were dreaming of driving out the Arabs from their homes to install instead jewish settlements, the English who were operating in the exclusive interest of their empire and not fearing anything but the threat of loosing the supremacy which they exerted as a governing power in this mandated territory.

Saïd Hajji pursued his analysis by saying that "the Arabs do not seek to cause any harm to the Jews as such, but they fight the zionism and will continue to fight it if the Conference of London does not put an end to this ideology. The main objective of the zionism being to drive the Arabs of Palestine out of their homeland, the Arab Nation will mobilize all its resources to turn over this objective against the zionism itself if no agreement is reached about the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people."

In its number 104, the newspaper published a report on the ongoing confrontation which was opposing the two camps inside the country. It gave more details about the Conference of London which spent the first week to solve the Pan Arab conflicts.and reported that the head of the Palestinian delegation, Jamal Al Husseini proposed a recommendation aiming at the immediate stop of the zionist immigrations, the cancellation of the Balfour Declaration, the recognition of the independance of Palestine and the end of the british mandate. and as a counterpart, the recognition to the Jews of the right to enjoy the privileges granted to the minorities. On the other hand, the requests formulated by Weismann in the name of the jewish communities have not been submitted to any recommendation for their approval.

The newspaper included in its number 109 the text of a political comment which had been published by the "Daily Express" during the meeting of the Conference, and which can be summerized as follows:

"This situation must no last eternally. We should understand, and the Jews as well, that the Arabs represent by far the majority of the palestinian people and, if the Jews who settled in Palestine for thousands of years, this reality does not give them any priority at the present time. The Romans also had settled in the United Kingdom 2000 years ago, but this does not give any right to the owners of the italian restaurants in London to claim today the right of their being the masters of the country and to aspire to put it under their domination on the basis of this historical statement. The Arabs must keep in mind, on their side, that the Jews settled in Palestine with the help and under the protection of the British Government, and it is at the very least difficult for them to reject what has been carried out with the agreement of the mandated British power."

"Almaghrib" informs us in number 119 that the failure of the Conference of London was due to the fact that the proposals made by England met with continual rejections of both the Arabs and the Jews, the former seeing there the non recognition of their legitimate rights, the latter the non acceptance of the whole requirements object of their claims. The newspaper imputes the responsibility of the failure of the Conference to the intransigence of the representatives of the jewish communities which did not want to seize this opportunity to find a solution of modus vivendi with the Arabs who put a sine qua non for the achievement of a just and everlasting agreement, namely the renunciation by the jewish part of the claim to create a zionist state in Palestine.

The newspaper reported that Mahatma Gandhi who was required to give an opinion in the arab-jewish conflict on the Palestine question as well as in the operations of hunting the Jews as perpetrated under the third Reich, answered by an article in "the Sunday Referee", that "the Jews must be treated everywhere where they were born in a right and equitable way, but if they do create a zionist state in Palestine, they would continue to nourish the feeling that they are undesirable in the countries where they are and the only way out left for them would be the exodus towards the promised land." Gandhi estimates that "the Jews must choose the way of nonviolence to deserve to be regarded as the elected people of God. They must consider that each country represents for them a fatherland, including Palestine, but provided that such a process of integration proceeds in a climate of nonviolence and in the spirit of Cordial Entente."

The status of the Moroccan Jews during the Protectorate

A series of measurements regulating the specific situation of the Jews in Europe have been taken during the period preceeding world war II. The Administration of the French Protectorate in Morocco took a certain number of decisions depriving the Jews of their rights and privileges under the pretext of fleeing the obligations imposed on all the nationals in times of war. Their activity was since then limited to the fields of trade and industry. They were forbidden to negociate loans of any nature, and were submitted to answer to questionnaires destined to collect statistics as a part of a survey permitting to know if the interested parties had declared themselves personally by the pasha or the caïd and, as regards the foreign Jews, if they were normally registered by the official keeper of the registers in the region. This personal declaration was to be accompanied by a statement of the financial availabilities, a listing of movable goods and land and building properties as well as an inventar of the store of merchandises available for sale and the stock of goods on deposit. (No 749 of August 9, 1941).

Moreover, the Jews were submitted to a law of exception. One part of this law concerned the Jews of Morocco, the other part the Jews of France. This law of exception fixed the modalities of the prohibition made to the Jews to fulfil the following functions:

They were forbidden from the date of this law on:

  • to be members of a jurisdictional or professional organization or any other representative entity resulting from an electoral procedure.

  • to fulfil any function of authority

  • to be functionaries appointed to posts of responsibility within the Moroccan Administration

  • to be admitted as auxiliaries of French justice or attachés near the Moroccan courts. except the Israëli ones.

  • to be attached to the services of safety

  • to be allowed to work in the services of public education, except in the institutions reserved to the Moroccans of jewish confession

  • to exert any lawyer activity in the Moroccan jurisdictions

  • to fulfil the function of experts close to these courts

  • to be called upon to fulfil the function of sworn interpreters, except those among them who are in charge of the translation in syriac language, and only under the condition that they were in possession of a card-carrying member of war veteran organisations, have been distinguished on the battle field, were decorated with the military cross and had obtained the badge of the military merit.

  • The Moroccan Jews could freely devote themselves to the industrial and commercial activities, but the law prohibited them from exerting the trade of banker or stock exchange speculator

  • The law did not extend to the jewish community the possibility to benefit from the freedom of the press and publish its own newspaper unless it has a pure religious or scientific character.

  • The General Resident of France to Rabat went even further in the field of prohibitions by fixing to the Jews who were living in the new residential districts reserved to the Europeans the date of September 1, 1939 to move back to the Mellah (Jewish Viertel) which gathers all the jewish dwellings. A decree was taken in this matter and was published in the Official Journal fixing to the jewish community the timing of their displacements from the above mentioned european residential viertel. (No 757)

The newspaper published in its number 758 that the delegate of the French Government in charge of the jewish question declared during his visit to Morocco that the main purpose of his visit to the north african countries was to study the situation of the Jews of Algeria and to get informed about the regulations which have been taken by the Authorities of the Protectorate in Morocco and Tunisia with regard to the respective jewish nationals of these two countries. He added that his mission also consisted in evaluating the impact exerted by the industrial and commercial activities of the jewish minority on the economic situation in North Africa, and studying the means which should be implemented to put a term at this influence considered to be at the very least inappropriate in the circumstances of then.

In August 1941, a decree relating to the exercice of the activity of lawyer by the Jewish nationals was taken, limiting their proportion to 2% of the total number of lawyers exerting in Morocco, and fixing a two months deadline at the Jewish community to meet this requirement.