August 1, 2017 — Tétouan, Morocco
AJC participated in ceremonies here and in Tangier marking the anniversary of King Mohammed VI’s accession to the throne – the final element of an intensive series of consultations across Morocco with government officials, Jewish community leaders, and business and civil society figures by an 18-person AJC delegation.
The delegation of AJC National Leadership Council members met with Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, Islamic Affairs Minister Ahmed Toufiq, Royal Counselor André Azoulay, and other senior officials. They exchanged views on U.S.-Moroccan relations and a range of regional and global issues. The visit was the latest in a series of annual AJC consultations over more than 20 years with Moroccan officials and other interlocutors on strategic, political and economic concerns, including means to advance Arab-Israeli peace and reconciliation.
Delegation members met with Jewish community leaders – including Ambassador Serge Berdugo, president of the Communauté Juive Marocaine, an AJC international partner – and visited Jewish sites in Casablanca, Meknes, Fès, Marrakech, Essaouira and Tangier. Once home to a sizable Jewish community, now numbering no more than 5,000, Morocco has made a significant investment in preserving and restoring synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. The “Hebraic” roots of the country are identified in the 2011 constitution.
“A recurrent theme in many of our meetings with officials and civil society leaders on this latest AJC mission to Morocco was the kingdom’s commitment to Muslim-Jewish dialogue and partnership, as well as its security and educational measures to oppose Islamist extremism,” said Jason Isaacson, AJC Associate Executive Director for Policy, who led the delegation.
One highlight of the mission was a visit to the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, a two-year-old institution that trains imams and other Muslim clerical personnel, male and female, in the moderate Malekite doctrine of Islam, and attracts students from Europe and across Africa, as well as from Morocco. Delegation members discussed with institute administrators and Islamic Affairs Minister Toufiq AJC’s broad program of interfaith outreach and cooperation, including its establishment in 2016 of the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council.
Invited by the royal palace to participate in the “fête du trône” ceremonies on the 18th anniversary of Mohammed VI’s accession, Isaacson pursued the delegation’s advocacy and outreach agenda in discussions with a range of government officials, including senior parliamentarians and foreign affairs advisors to the king. In 2009, Isaacson was named by King Mohammed VI a chevalier of the Order of the Throne.