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Radical Nationalists: Moroccan Jewish Communists 1925-1975


From the outset of the French protectorate of Morocco in 1912 through independence in 1956, a variety of ideologies coalesced into pro-independence political movements. This dissertation explores Jewish involvement in the Moroccan Communist Party (PCM) between 1925-1975. Opening up this 1925-1975 moment recovers ways in which Jews and Muslims conceptualized Jews fitting into newly independent nation-states. Leftist groups, originating in Europe, flourished in Morocco beginning in the mid-1920s. By 1936 the socialist leaning Moroccan Union of Muslims and Jews had been founded, a sign of the growing importance of leftist organizations in the Moroccan political spectrum. When France fell to Germany in 1940, the French Communist Party (PCF) chose solidarity with France over its internationalist obligations, requiring the Maghribi Communist parties to fight for the common cause against Fascism and put independence ambitions on hold. Vichy rule brought anti-Semitic legislation to the majority of North African Jews, inspiring many in the immediate post-war generation to reject France’s vision of republican assimilation. The national liberation parties of the Maghrib, in practice, if not on paper, often espoused an Arab nationalist platform informed by Islam. Betrayed by French republicanism and unconvinced by Zionism, many Maghribi Jews expressed their patriotism through Communism. The 1950s through the early 1970s were the apex of Communist Jewish political participation in the Maghrib and the height of migration to Israel or France. Emanating from Moscow and refracted through the PCF to Morocco and beyond, this project not only looks at ideologies and populations in transit, but also their transformation in new national and international contexts.

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