Born in Casablanca in 1960, Rabbi Gad Bouskila *, president of the Moroccan Jewish Center in New York, reviews the reestablishment of relations between Morocco and Israel and sees in it “only the peace that is reaching the entire Middle East”. The one, who founded in 1987 the first Moroccan Jewish synagogue in the USA to which the late Hassan II had granted a personal donation and put at his disposal Moroccan craftsmen, is also very happy with the American proclamation of the Moroccan character of the Sahara.
Interview by Hasna Daoudi
As chief rabbi of the Moroccan Jewish community in New York, how did Moroccans in the United States react to the announcement of the resumption of relations between Morocco and Israel?
We are amazed, happy. We expected it, and finally Morocco “our country of childhood”, the country we love the most, has come to challenge the whole world in the name of Peace, and that requires a great celebration.
This historic rapprochement is a real source of pride for us. We are all sons of Abraham, and that’s how we see it: we want to live in peace and show our fraternity to the whole world.
Will the attachment of the Moroccan Jewish community throughout the world to its country of origin help to pave the way for a new era in relations between the two countries?
Without a doubt . Under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, with his wisdom and vision. Morocco has become a modern and very advanced country. And the agreements signed between Morocco and Israel will also be very beneficial in terms of trade and investment. I see a very bright future and the contribution of both countries paves the way for very great successes.
Moroccan Jews wherever they find themselves show their pride and love for the country of their ancestors. Morocco is this beautiful country, this nation in which we have lived for more than 2000 years. Our connection to our country of origin has always existed. Today, it is the expression of colossal pride.
Morocco has integrated and enshrined in its Constitution the Hebrew tributary as an integral part of the Moroccan identity. How do you see this Moroccan specificity?
It is an act of fairness and honesty. His Majesty the King has an affection for his people. Regardless of the faith or religion they follow, he reacts in a very noble way by restoring the places of worship of Moroccan Judaism and Jewish cemeteries, as well as the historical monuments attached to them. It is part of the Moroccan heritage and shows how much he loves all of its citizens. The proof is that all the people have affection for him.
To what extent can the resumption of relations between Israel and Morocco help to break the deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, knowing that Morocco has always worked for peace between Israelis and Palestinians?
As we know, His Majesty The King is the Chairman of the Al Quds Committee. and also responsible for safeguarding the Muslim character of this Holy City Jerusalem. At the end of this magnificent gesture on the part of Morocco I see ONLY PEACE reaching all of the Middle East. Very soon this Palestinian – Israeli conflict will be a thing of the past. This process of peace is only contagious and soon the whole world will live in peace. INCHAALLAH, we will see all nations lay down their arms to shake hands and kiss (of course after the covid pandemic).
The United States has recognized the Moroccan character of the Sahara. A historic decision that you also warmly welcomed. Will this proclamation by the United States be a game-changer in the region?
I really hope especially that the proclamation of the United States has been strong and is irreversible. The Sahara is Moroccan and will remain Moroccan for life.
At this American proclamation, the Moroccan community established in the United States expressed its jubilation in front of the capitol. You participated in it. What was your feeling as an American of Moroccan origin?
I am proud of it, after 44 years of waiting and unfortunately of conflict, Justice has proven its worth. The first world power had to recognize the legitimacy of the Sahara for Morocco and that was a lesson for the United Nations (UN) which did nothing in this regard. Kudos to President Donald J Trump for his courage.
Do you think that France and the other European countries must follow the same path to end this conflict which has lasted too long?
I believe that France and all European countries, as well as the international community, must on this occasion reaffirm this decision and announce it publicly in order to restore peace in the region.
* Rabbi Gad Bouskila is the son of Rabbi David Bouskila inspector of Jewish schools in Morocco.
*President of the Moroccan Jewish Center; Member of the Rabbinical Alliance of America; Member of WSR (World Sephardic Rabbis); President of Moroccan Jewish Heritage.