Arson probed at Moroccan Jewish cemetery

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A Jewish-owned building was set on fire in a possible anti-Semitic attack in the Moroccan town of Oujad.

The March 10 suspected arson in Oujad, located 120 miles south of the capital Rabat, happened at a structure inside a local Jewish cemetery, the news site Telquel.ma reported Thursday.

No one was injured in the incident. The report did not specify what damage was caused to the structure.

Police are looking for the culprits, the news site reported, citing interviews with a police spokesperson and with Kenza Elbiar of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, or AMDH.

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Elbiar said the perpetrators also wrote anti-Semitic slogans on some adjacent surfaces, though police denied the text was anti-Semitic. The report did not quote the slogans.

Elbiar also said that the caretaker of the cemetery had threatened the rabbi in charge of the cemetery, who was not named and does not reside in Oujad, saying he would burn the structure in the cemetery because he claims he is owed money.

The caretaker was questioned by police and released pending further investigation.

Some 250,000 Moroccan Jews left Morocco in the 19 years that followed Israel’s establishment in 1948. A few dozen Jews were killed in at least three pogroms that occurred between 1938 and 1954, according to Shmuel Trigano, a lecturer of political sociology at Paris University Nanterre.

Zionism was outlawed in Morocco in 1959 and defined as a “serious crime.” Morocco ended that official animosity in the late 1980s and since then has maintained ties with Israel. In recent years, the royal house has undertaken the reconstruction of dozens of Jewish heritage sites.