October 31, 2021 — Casablanca, Morocco
An American Jewish Committee leadership delegation concluded a week of consultations with senior Moroccan officials, civil society organizations, U.S. and Israeli diplomats, and Jewish community partners – the latest round of talks on issues of mutual concern in more than 30 years of high-level contact between AJC and the Kingdom of Morocco.
The delegation, led by AJC President Harriet Schleifer and Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer Jason Isaacson, praised His Majesty King Mohammed VI for his historic December 2020 decision to re-establish and expand formal relations with the State of Israel, which had been frozen since October 2000, and reiterated AJC’s support for the territorial integrity of Morocco, a U.S. strategic partner.
“Days after installation of a government popularly elected last month, and as the first anniversary of Moroccan-Israeli normalization approaches, AJC came to Rabat and Casablanca to renew longstanding friendships, introduce ourselves to newly appointed ministers, and explore opportunities to strengthen ties with both the United States and Israel,” said Isaacson.
“We expressed our continued strong support for the American recognition of Moroccan sovereignty in the Western Sahara, our appreciation for the multiple steps the government and civil society organizations have taken to preserve and celebrate the country’s Jewish heritage, and our commitment to the success of Moroccan-Israeli cooperation across multiple sectors,” he added.
The AJC delegation discussed a range of regional and bilateral concerns with Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, and was hosted for meetings in seven other ministries – focusing on the country’s pluralist tradition, its efforts against extremism, the recently released national development plan, opportunities for increased investment and tourism potential, women’s rights, renewable energy, and educational curricula.
In Rabat and Casablanca, the group met with top U.S. and Israeli diplomats, business leaders, newly elected young parliamentarians, policy analysts, and members of an AJC programming partner organization, Association Mimouna, a growing circle of young Moroccan Muslims dedicated to honoring the country’s Jewish traditions. AJC leaders paid a return visit to the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, whose curricula include instruction in the tenets of Judaism.
Meeting with Amb. Serge Berdugo, Secretary-General of the Conseil de la Communauté Israélite du Maroc, an AJC international partner, and with other leaders of the country’s Jewish community, the delegation paid homage to the 2,000-plus-year history of continuous Jewish presence in Morocco – and exchanged views on the new opportunities offered by relations with Israel, including an expected surge in visitors.
The AJC visit, a month after parliamentary elections that routed the Islamist governing Justice and Development Party, was widely covered in Moroccan and regional media. The AJC delegation included Board of Governors member Gail Binderman and Director of Middle East and North Africa Initiatives Benjamin Rogers.