العنوان هنا
Situation Assessment 23 October, 2011

The Amazigh in Morocco: Between the Internal and the External

Keyword

Mohammed Masbah

Masbah is a Moroccan researcher, who has been working since March 2009 as a researcher at the Moroccan Center for Studies and Contemporary Research. He holds a Master’s degree from the University of Mohammed V in Agdal, Rabat, and has published numerous studies. In addition to future publications, his most recent is in the 14th volume of the Arab Journal of Sociology (Additions), entitled “Anglo-Saxon Anthropology in Morocco: Evaluation of Gellner’s Division Theory”.

The August 2010 publication of a study by Bruce Weitzman, an Israeli researcher at the "Moshe Dayan Center," sparked a debate about Israel's support of the radical movement within the Amazigh movement in Morocco, and Israel's use of this movement as an entry point for normalization with Israel in a social and political milieu that rejects such normalization and such relations.[1]

According to Weitzman, fostering and using agents and activists it considers more moderate within the Amazigh movement in Morocco is part of Israel's foreign policy in the region that aims to counter the forces that Israel classifies as hostile. "From the Israeli perspective, the relations with Rabat are an extension of Israeli policies with the ‘surroundings,' and the fostering of non-Arab agents in the Middle Eastern surroundings is carried out in order to establish a counterweight to the pressure of radical and hostile Arab states."[2]

The publication of this study tipped the scales on the subject of the suspicion of activists in the Amazigh movement in Morocco with regards to their involvement in normalization activities with Israel. This study, published by a center affiliated with the University of Tel Aviv and linked to political decision-making centers in Israel, highlights Israel's endeavor to employ actors in the radical wing of the Amazigh movement in order to "improve its image" in the region and pave the way for its social acceptance in the Arab world.

The matter does not extend to all components of the Amazigh movement in Morocco, but to a radical current that has grown with the new generation of Amazigh activists who began to join the ranks of this movement in the early 1990s, after a long period in which most such activists belonged to the left. This movement began to raise slogans that looked favorably upon Israel, betraying an indifference to the issues that concern the nation, particularly the Palestinian cause, and criticizing the Arab and Muslim presence in Morocco. In a statement to the Hespress news agency, the founder of the banned Amazigh Democratic Party, Ahmed Aldagharni, stated that the question of Amazigh relations with the Israeli side is "one of the means of self-defense against the targeting that is faced by Amazigh in the Maghreb region at the hands of Arab nationalists and some Islamic extremists."[3] Such statements and sentiments led Weitzman to confirm in a subsequent study that the defiance of a small group of Amazigh activists "and their interest in Israel and Jewish history, especially the alleged historic relationship between Jews and Berbers in ancient times, including the initial resistance to the Arab invasions by al-Kahina [the priestess] who was supposedly a Jewish Berber queen,"[4] forms part of the context of Amazigh activists seeing Israel as a strong ally in the face of Arab nationalism. This reflects, in Weitzman's opinion, Amazigh "opposition to Arab-Muslim domination and the subjugation of the Amazigh language and culture."[5]

To read the full text, click on the image below.

 ----------------------------------

  • [1] Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, "The limits and potentials of Israel-Maghreb relations," IPRIS Maghreb Review, August 2010.
  • [2] Ibid., p. 15.
  • [3] "Aldagharni: Relations with Israel are in Amazigh Interests," HesPress electronic newspaper, August 19, 2009.
  • [4] Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, "Morocco's Berbers and Israel", Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2011, p. 79.
  • [5] Ibid.