Moroccan Textbooks Teach Appreciation of Jewish Life and Tolerance in the Kingdom

By Carole Nuriel and Aykan Erdemir

An examination of textbooks used in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades of Moroccan state schools during the 2021-2022 school year indicate that tolerance and diversity are core to the curriculum promoted across Moroccan society. The excerpts on Judaism and Jews that Morocco’s Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training provided to ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) show that the country’s elementary school textbooks depict Jews as an integral part of Moroccan society whose heritage and societal contributions are national assets. This poses a contrast to textbooks in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, where Jews are routinely demonized and positive descriptions of Jews are scarce. 

The Moroccan textbooks attempt to familiarize students with Judaism, including Moroccan-Jewish music, cuisine, and holidays, and the positive nature of neighborly relations between Jews and Muslims. It highlights how Jews integrated into Moroccan society, and their various contributions to the economy, in fields such as business, science, journalism and in popular culture. Stories of nostalgia about Jewish life in the country, and the sense of security enjoyed by Jews, are also featured.

The philosemitism expressed in the textbooks is a reflection of the centuries-long existence of Jews in Morocco, the relative security and comforts the Jewish community have enjoyed over the years, as well as the Kingdom’s principled stance against any form of discrimination and religious fanaticism, including that which could lead to violence.

Morocco has already committed to integrate Holocaust studies into the curriculum as of 2018 and these textbooks show that Rabat is ready to take the next step by adding not only the Holocaust to the curriculum at higher grade levels but also material about antisemitism and contemporary Jewish life around the world.

The following are translated excerpts from Moroccan textbooks.

Familiarizing the readers with Jewish heritage and religion.