RABAT : Jewish history and culture in Morocco will soon be part of the school curriculum - a ''first'' in the region and in the North African country, where Islam is the state religion.

The decision ''has the impact of a tsunami,'' said Serge Berdugo, secretary general of the Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco. It ''is a first in the Arab world,'' he said from Casablanca.

For years, although the kingdom had no official relationship with Israel, thousands of Jews of Moroccan origin visited the land of their ancestors, to celebrate holidays or make pilgrimages,  including from Israel.

But Morocco this week became the fourth Arab nation since August to announce US-brokered deal to normalise relations with Israel, following the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

Israeli Prime Minister Banjamin Netanyahu said Laison offices would be reopened in Tel Aviv and Rabat, which Morocco closed in 2000 at the start of the second Palestinian uprising, and full diplomatic relations would be established ''as rapidly as possible''.

Morocco confirmed the deal, saying King Mohammed VI had told outgoing US President Donald Trump his country had agreed to establish diplomatic relation with Israel ''with minimal delay''.

The decision to add Jewish history and culture to lessons was discreetly launched before the diplomatic deal was announced.

Part of an ongoing revamp of Morocco's school curriculum since 2014, the lessons will be included from next term for children in their final year of primary school, aged 11, the education ministry said.

The move aims to ''highlight Morocco's diverse identity'', according to Fouad Chafiqi, head of academic programme at the ministry.

Morocco's Jewish community has been present since antiquity and grew over the centuries, particularly after the arrival of Jews expelled from Spain by the Catholic kings after 1492.

''Ensuring Moroccan students learn about the totality of their proud history of tolerance, including Morocco's philo-Semitism, is an inoculation against extremism,'' leaders said in a statement published on Twitter last month.

Also in November, Education Minister Said Amzazi and the heads of two Moroccan associations signed a partnership agreement ''for the promotion of values of tolerance, diversity and coexistence in schools and universities.''

The accord was symbolically linked as Essaouira's ''House of Memory'', which celebrates the historic coexistence of the city's Jewish and Muslim communities.

Morocco ''has never erased its Jewish memory,'' said Zhor Rehihil, curator of Casablanca's Moroccan Jewish Museum - the only one of its kind in the region.

History teacher Mohammed Hatimi said introducing Jewish identity into Morocco's education would help nurture ''future citizens conscious of their diverse heritage''.

The move will also be part of a revision of the secondary school curriculum set for nest year, according to Chafiqi from the education ministry  [AFP].


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!