April 14, 2008 Special Dispatch No. 1695

Debate About New Berber-Jewish Friendship Association in Morocco on Iranian Al-Alam TV

April 14, 2008
Morocco, North Africa | Special Dispatch No. 1695

Following are excerpts from a debate on the newly formed Berber-Jewish friendship association in Morocco, which aired on Al-Alam TV on July 21, 2007.

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Why the Launching of an Amazigh-Israeli Friendship Association

Interviewer: "Why are the Amazigh [Berber people] - or some of them, let's not generalize - launching an Amazigh-Israeli friendship association?"

Yahya Abu Zakariya, Algerian writer: "Fuad, let me make it clear that, in principle, the Amazigh, throughout the history of the Maghreb, fought off all the colonialist attacks. They stood up to the Vandals, the Romans, and the French who came to the Arab Maghreb. Even before the French, they stood up to the Spaniards. They were the epitome of steadfastness, resistance, and confrontation. Moreover, they did a great service to Islamic civilization, and contributed to it to the greatest degree. The fact that such calls are emerging from the Arab Maghreb - the calls for rapprochement with the Zionist entity, which as the entire world knows, has penetrated our territory, and taken away our security... These calls are, obviously, dubious."


"There has been a transformation among certain groups, which are saying that the Arab Maghreb has nothing to do with the Arab world, that there are no bridges connecting this region of North Africa with the Arab world, and that relations with the Zionist entity must be rebuilt. Unfortunately, such initiatives receive official blessing." [...]

"If Only the Arabs Had Believed in Friendship with the Jews All These Years, We Would Not Be Seeing Rivers Of Blood Flowing"

Ahmed Adghrini, Secretary-General of the Moroccan Amazigh Democratic Party: "With regard to what Yahya said, let me point out, first of all, that he is defending Arab identity, which is of no interest to the Amazigh people. Arab identity is something particular to the Arabs, and does not concern the Amazigh, or North Africans of other identities. Arab identity is specific to the Arabian Peninsula and to the countries concerned with this, but not to the Amazigh or the non-Arab residents of North Africa. That's one thing. With regard to the Jews, I don't have to tell you that their history in our region goes back to 1000 BCE. The history of the Amazigh in North Africa goes back 2,957 years. In 40 years or so, we will have 3,000 years of history behind us, throughout which the Jews lived together with us. For the Jews too, Arab identity is of no concern, just as it is of no concern to the aboriginal residents of North Africa. He was talking about the Arab period in North Africa, whereas we go back thousands of years before that."


"He used an infamous term. He said that the Amazigh are suspect. This is an ugly expression, which I ask him to retract, because it reflects badly on him more than on us. We are not suspect in our own country. He should retract all his ugly statements about the Amazigh."


"With regard to the association, you and those listening know that is has to do with friendship, which is a humanist value for the benefit of all peoples, including the Arabs. The Arabs replace friendship with enmity and war. We are working... Personally, I am convinced that friendship is better than war. If only the Arabs had believed in friendship with the Jews all these years, we would not be seeing rivers of blood flowing, among the Arabs themselves, and between the Arabs and the Jews. Therefore, I find it objectionable that anyone - whether Arab, Amazigh, or Jewish - could have an aversion to the word 'friendship.'"[...]

"I Cannot Simply Renounce 14 Centuries... And Start Dealing With a Zionist Entity Founded 50 Years Ago"

Yahya Abu Zakariya: "When have the Arabs ever eradicated the Zionists? When have the Arabs ever eradicated the Zionist entity? This Zionist entity is aggressive by nature and by faith. It is the Zionist entity that is trying to eradicate me. It is the Zionist entity that destroyed my villages, and all the towns here in southern Lebanon, and the signs of this destruction are still visible. When he says that Arab identity is foreign to Algeria... I am not talking about Arab identity in the ideological sense, but he must recognize that Islam shaped the history of the Arab Maghreb. I cannot simply renounce 14 centuries in which a civilization was formed, and start dealing with a Zionist entity that was founded 50 years ago."


"The Jews in the Arab Maghreb were the eyes of the French colonialist movement. When the French army came to the Arab Maghreb, it was the Jews who led them to the mujahideen, and when France left the Arab Maghreb, the Jews went with it."[...]

Muhammad Bin Jelloun Al-Andalusi, President of the Moroccan Association for the Support of the Palestinian Struggle (by phone): "[Ahmad Adghrini] once said on TV that the Arabs and the Muslims who came to the Maghreb should leave these parts and take their holy book with them, and that when they take away their holy book, and when the Islamic religion leaves these parts, we must welcome another religion, and another friendship." [...]

The Association "Was The Idea Of... Young People [Who] Are Disturbed by the Enmity... and Antisemitism... In Our Region"

Ahmed Adghrini: "I heard what Mr. Al-Andalusi said - that the Arabs need to take their holy book and leave. These are his words, and he is responsible for them. He said this, and I wash my hands of it. This is not one of my principles, and I never said these words. He is responsible for this.

"With regard to the Arabs, they are citizens with full rights. The Arabs of Morocco are Moroccans. The Koran is one of our divine books. It is our book. I deny what he attributed to me about the Arabs leaving, or about the Koran. This is a lie, and he is responsible for it.

"As for my association, to the best of my knowledge, it was the idea of a group of young people. Most of them recently graduated from university, some are unemployed, and others are still students. They have some supporters in Moroccan society among intellectuals, economists, and other sympathizers. They raised the idea two years ago. I support this idea.

"As for organizing it, they are responsible for it. These young people, as I learned from my contacts with them, are disturbed by the enmity that has spread in the Middle East, and by the antisemitism that has begun to spread in our region. They are pained that the Moroccan Jews began to leave their homeland, when pan-Arab parties began to spread, around 1967."[...]

"Some [Amazigh Writers] Say 'The Muslims Came to the Arab Maghreb on Camels, and We Will Send Them On Boeings Back to the Arabian Peninsula'"

Yahya Abu Zakariya: "In response to what Ahmad said, I would like to cite the Arab poem: 'Every illness has a remedy to cure it, apart from stupidity, which no one can cure.' He said that the Jewish element is among the components of the geography of the Maghreb, despite the fact that there is no historical source indicating that the Jews were present in the Maghreb. The sources indicate that the Jews left Andalusia together with the Muslims, and came to the Arab Maghreb. In other words, they are foreign to the Maghreb."


"I say that the Jews have no conscience. They did not respect the sanctity of neighborly relations. The Muslims provided them with safety and protection. I don't want to delve into history, since that is not our topic. Let's return to the current Arab situation. Most decision-makers in the Shin-Bet, in the Shabak, and in the Israeli Mossad are of Moroccan origin. When they went there and joined the security services in Israel, in Tel Aviv in particular - did they remember the kindness the Moroccans showed them, or were they part of the conspiracy against the Arabs?"


"When Ahmad says that Arab identity is foreign, and that Arab identity is as far as can be from the Arab Maghreb, this, unfortunately, reinforces what some Amazigh writers have said: 'Oh Muhammad, get up and leave the Arab Maghreb' - and some of them say: 'The Muslims came to the Arab Maghreb on camels, and we will send them on Boeings back to the Arabian Peninsula.' These dubious calls target the culture that laid the ground for the Maghreb. There is a desire to bury Islam and eliminate it from the Arab Maghreb."[...]

"The Topic of This Show is the Friendship Association, But He Has Taken This Opportunity to Join the Antisemitic Movement"

Ahmad Adghrini: "The topic of this show is the Friendship Association, but he has taken this opportunity to join the antisemitic movement. He said that the Moroccan Jews have no conscience. I condemn this statement and consider it antisemitism. The Moroccan Jews are respected and trustworthy. I know them, businessmen know them, and they are very conscientious."

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