The Velvet Inquisition

The Velvet Inquisition

Associate Editor

An urban legend going around the community says that a major rabbi placed a curse upon the Kennedy family, unto the end of generations, because Ambassador Joseph Kennedy was not a hard-liner about Hitler. Kennedyís son died fighting Hitler, but no matter: the curse was on. To many Jews, this eternal curse makes perfect sense.Other Jews refuse to say a kind word about Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his mishandling of the Holocaust. He led the war against Hitler? You wouldnít know it from the venom he inspires 60 years later.No, thousands of passionate Jews will never forgive the Kennedys or Roosevelt. But Moroccoís King Hassan, who actually tortured Moroccan Jews and sent troops with real bullets to fight against Israel in 1967 and 1973? Ah, King Hassan is mourned by Jews as if he were family ó literally. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service (July 26), Israelis of Moroccan origin declared a seven-day mourning period.According to JTA, Jews in Morocco were ìgenerally safe under the protection of … Hassan.î Israeli papers called him a ìtyrant,î a ìdictator.î An editorial in the daily Hatzofeh (July 26) recalled Moroccan Jews who were ìharshly tortured by the Moroccan regime for engaging in Zionist activities.îBut JTA, which is subscribed to by just about every U.S. Jewish newspaper, wrote only that Hassan ruled ìwith a deft mixture of pro-Western democracy and traditional autocracy.îDuring his fatherís reign and Hassanís own, nearly 300,000 Jews left Morocco, a velvet inquisition for which the Hassan dynasty was basically held blameless by the American media. Edward Cody, in The Washington Post (July 24), writes that Hassanís kingdom was known for ìsunny hospitality and friendliness to Israel.îAmir Oren, in Haaretz (July 26), has heard enough: ìTo present [Hassan] as the compassionate and merciful benefactor of the Jews of Morocco is grotesque. … The tears that stained the Armani suits of the affluent members of the community are not necessarily the same tears shed by the wretched and unemployed residents of remote villages and city slums.îThe Boston Globe (July 26) found Israelís security minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami, a Moroccan Jew who insisted: The king ìwas nostalgic about the glorious period of harmony between Jews and Muslims in Spain and always felt [that] the loss of Jews from Morocco, just like the loss of Jews from Spain, was a huge loss for his country.î The king himself made the analogy between what happened in Spain and Morocco.John Burns, in The New York Times (June 28), writing just before the kingís death, reports that Hassan, who did so much for the peace process, had no problem ìshunning the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.î Notice that Netanyahu, who at the time just happened to be the democratically elected leader of the State of Israel, is called ìright wingî by the Times but, strangely, not Hassan

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