Morocco-backed group signs historic deal with US to fight anti-Semitism

The government-backed Association Mimouna of Morocco has worked toward greater local understanding of Jews since 2007.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A government-backed Moroccan NGO signed the second deal ever made in the Arab world with the United States to fight anti-Semitism and promote peaceful coexistence with Israel on Friday.

The Association Mimouna of Morocco and the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism agreed to cooperate in targeting “all forms of anti-Semitism, including anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel” in an official Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The ceremony was conducted over Zoom, with America’s czar on anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, signing for the United States in what may be his last act as a member of the departing Trump administration.

He called the MOU a “historic agreement,” because it formally espoused the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, and he praised the Association Mimouna for being “transformative in its work.”

The association is a cultural non-profit established in 2007 by young Muslim students dedicated to promoting and preserving Moroccan Jewish heritage, as its website explains. It started by designing activities for high school and university students to educate them about the centuries-old Jewish life in the country, “to reclaim the cultural diversity of Morocco through its history.”

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In 2011, it organized the first conference on the Holocaust in the Arab world, hightlighting the courage of the late King Mohamed V, who refused to hand over his country’s Jews to the Vichy occupation authorities. In 2012, it was also the first to bring a group of young Arab Muslims to see Israel for themselves. It has since created a Holocaust curriculum, the first one “by and for Muslims,” explained the Association’s president, Elmehdi Boudra.

Moroccan Ambassador to the U.S. Princess Lalla Joumala made it clear that her government wholeheartedly supports the MOU, signed less than a month after Rabat and Jerusalem announced the full normalization of ties between the two countries.

“This new partnership is both timely and welcome as it extends the government of Morocco’s firm commitment to combating anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of hatred to the civil society sector, aptly represented here by Association Mimouna of Morocco,” she said in a statement.

“The MOU also reinforces the deep and longstanding partnership between our two countries in the fight against all forms of intolerance and the promotion of peace and mutual coexistence. It is an unwavering engagement spearheaded by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, who leads by example and upholds the proud heritage of tolerance perpetuated by his forefathers.”

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In another historic first for an Arab state, Morocco’s Education Ministry added Jewish history and culture lessons to the sixth grade curriculum for the upcoming 2021 term even before it became the fourth country after the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan to normalize relations with Israel late last year.

In October 2020, Carr signed a similar Memorandum of Understanding with the King Hamad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence in Bahrain, which is backed by the monarchy. It was the first time that an Arab country had even indirectly promoted the idea of combating anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.