Morocco and Israel never so close after inauguration of direct flights

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On July 25, the first commercial aircraft landed at Marrakech airport to fly direct between Israel and Morocco. After seven months of diplomatic normalization, a result of the diplomacy of the two states has concretized the agreements. According to The Times of Israel, many Israeli passengers travelled with the Israir company. On July 25, they were greeted in Morocco with dates, cakes, and mint tea during a ceremony organized in their honour.

“I am originally from Marrakech. I’ve been back here about 30 times, but now the trip has a special flavor; it’s like it’s the first time!” So said Pinhas Moyal, one of the first passengers to travel directly between Israel and Morocco. Benjamin Ron, a tour guide for Israelis in Morocco, also expressed satisfaction with the diplomatic normalization: “It is a historical moment, this flight can only strengthen the link between the Jewish state and Morocco.”

The day before yesterday, the Israeli flag carrier El Al also landed in Marrakech. The Israeli company then stated that five flights a week would be made available to Marrakech and Casablanca. Also, present at the celebrations on Sunday, the Israeli Minister of Tourism Yoel Razvozov said that the service would stimulate “trade, tourism, and economic cooperation between countries.”

Together with several Arab countries, Morocco was one of the four Arab states to have established diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. After the announcement of the historic normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco, on December 13, the North African country announced a revolutionary change in the curricula of Moroccan schools. Soon, students from Morocco will be able to take part in lessons in Jewish history and culture.

This educational novelty will be part of the official curriculum of the new Moroccan generations and aims to consolidate the relationship between Israel and the Arab state. It is a remarkable fact: for the first time, a country with an Islamic majority, where Islam is the state religion, emphasizes the importance of Jewish culture as an instrument for stabilizing and spreading peace.Serge Berdugo, general secretary of the Casablanca-based Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco, told AFP that this school reform would have “the impact of a tsunami.”

According to Jewish Press, the new curriculum containing the disciplines on Judaism was already agreed upon before the advent of diplomatic normalization with Israel. Morocco is looking to renew and update students’ skills through a plan drawn up in 2014.Fouad Chafiqui, head of academic programs at the Rabat Ministry of Education, said the initiative aims to “bring out the diversity of Morocco.”In addition, two Jewish associations in the United States, the Sephardi American Federation and the Conference of Presidents of the leading American Jewish organizations, said they “worked together with the Kingdom of Morocco and the Moroccan Jewish community” to bring about this “revolutionary reform.”

Specifically, American Jewish associations have published a joint message on Twitter: “Ensuring that Moroccan students learn fully and proudly their tolerant history, including Moroccan Philo Semitism, is an antidote to anti-Semitism.”The new school curriculum will adopt two books for the fourth and sixth classes describing the life and legacy of Moroccan Jews under Sultan Mohammed Ben Abdellah al-Khatib.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will pay an official visit to Morocco on August 11-12. The mission will be the first for an Israeli foreign minister. According to The Times of Israel, quoting sources of the Foreign Ministry, Lapid will officially open up the Israeli diplomatic mission in the North-African country.

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