In Search of Jewish Farmers: Jews, Agriculture, and the Land in Rural Morocco

Daniel J. Schroeter

in The Divergence of Judaism and Islam

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780813037516
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813042107 | DOI:
In Search of Jewish Farmers: Jews, Agriculture, and the Land in Rural Morocco

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This chapter connects with the preceding chapter on Jewish-Muslim life in rural Yemen. Although both studies describe tribally situated Jewish societies destined for dissolution through immigration, this “Moroccan chapter” centers on a country that was dominated by a French colonial administration. For many decades it was reported by different people—Israeli immigration emissaries of the Jewish Agency, foreign travelers, and officials of the colonial administration—that major pockets of Jewish farmers existed throughout rural Morocco. This social-historical study challenges what may now be regarded as no more than a myth. Certainly, small groups of agricultural Jews could be found in the central High Atlas Mountains and elsewhere in the country, but no more than that. In fact, the majority of Morocco's Jews were petty merchants and artisans, a fact that Jews regarded as a mark of distinction from, if not superiority over, the vast majority of Moroccan Muslims, for whom agriculture was the principal livelihood. Many years after the resettlement of most Moroccan Jewry in Israel, older Muslims remembered this distinction.

Keywords: Morocco; farmers; agriculture; Zionism; dhimmis; Atlas Mountains; landownership; aliyah

Chapter.  7031 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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