Julia Al-Akkad-Marrakech-mareeg.com-Decades of conflict and complex power dynamics between Jewish and Muslim communities have resulted in a deep-rooted aversion towards cultural engagement. This continues to hinder multiethnic relationships throughout the Middle Eastern and North African region. Even so, a rich history of ethnic and religious diversity remains an inseparable embodiment of the cultural atmosphere in Morocco. In the June 2018 issue of the Mediterranean Quarterly, Yossef Ben-Meir discusses Morocco’s notable display of commitment towards peaceful coexistence, presenting promising outcomes for the kingdom. Concurrently, the question arises whether this Moroccan integration of cultural preservation and sustainable development is able to transcend borders across the Arab region.
At the onset of the independence of Morocco, the country was home to the largest Jewish population in the Muslim world. The mellah, a Jewish quarter, in Marrakech emerged within the sixteenth century, a notable testament to the prominent Jewish identity instilled within early Moroccan history. This vibrant multicultural history is made evident by the approximately six hundred Hebrew “saints” that are buried at sites across Morocco, now recognized within the national preservation program. In a benevolent act of solidarity, the Moroccan Jewish community began to donate land to the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) in 2012 to plant organic fruit-tree nurseries for the benefit of Muslim farming families and schools. While impoverished families cannot afford to allocate the necessary two years to grow saplings from seeds, the Jewish community’s interfaith act helped to overcome this obstacle, initiating the House of Life project.