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February 11 , 2011

Memories of Absence

How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco


There is a Moroccan saying: A market without Jews is like bread without salt. Once a thriving community, by the late 1980s, 240,000 Jews had emigrated from Morocco. Today, fewer than 4,000 Jews remain. Despite a centuries-long presence, the Jewish narrative in Moroccan history has largely been suppressed through national historical amnesia, Jewish absence, and a growing dismay over the Palestinian conflict.

Memories of Absence investigates how four successive generations remember the lost Jewish community. Moroccan attitudes toward the Jewish population have changed over the decades, and a new debate has emerged at the center of the Moroccan nation: Where does the Jew fit in the context of an Arab and Islamic monarchy? Can Jews simultaneously be Moroccans and Zionists? Drawing on oral testimony and stories, on rumor and humor, Aomar Boum examines the strong shift in opinion and attitude over the generations and increasingly anti-Semitic beliefs in younger people, whose only exposure to Jews has been through international media and national memory.

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