By Engr. Edgar Mana-ay
There is an ever-growing list of Arab countries eager to join the Abraham Accord (a Middle East Peace process initiated by Pres. Trump and implemented by his Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner) and normalize relations with Israel.
Last August the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a peace agreement with Israel, soon followed by another Gulf state, Bahrain. Sudan later joined in October, a huge coup for Israel since terror groups were using the African nation as a conduit to transport arms to Hamas in the Gaza strip.
After the announcement that Qatar will soon follow, normalization between Israel and the African Muslim country, Morocco was officially announced. This is after six decades of secret intelligence, military, political and cultural ties between the two countries.
Morocco, a North African shoreline country with the Mediterranean sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west with 36 million mostly Muslim population, has closely worked with the Mossad, the international spy agency of Israel.
All Mossad chief’s since 1960, Amit, Zamir, Hofi, Admoni, Shivit, Yatom, Halevy, Dagan, Pardo and current chief Yossi Cohen have clandestinely visited Morocco and met with its leaders and head of intelligence. At the heart of that long clandestine alliance has always been the simple, mutual recognition that by cooperating with each other, the two countries serve their national interests best.
Over the years, relations have known their ups and downs, they were transformed and shaped into different, sometimes contradictory forms, but always remained solid at their core.
The most important cooperative work between the Mossad and its Moroccan counterpart is in the ALIYAH movement. Aliyah is an important Jewish cultural concept and a fundamental component of Zionism – the return of all Jews from foreign land to settle in Israel.
90% of Moroccan Jews were relocated to Israel by the Mossad operation. Of the 15 million current population of Israel almost half of that came from many countries around the world, from Europe, the middle east, U.S. Canada, Latin America, Ethiopia, almost a hundred thousand (how come the Jews in Ethiopia became BLACK when their antecedents are fair-skinned!), India and Sri Lanka. Their return is financed by the American Jewish Association, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and supported by the Israeli government especially its spy arm, the Mossad which involved transport, resettlement housing, training and jobs. Their basis is the Old Testament in the Bible; Isaiah 11:12 – “He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; He will also assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four corners of the earth”.
In 1959 when the new Moroccan King Mohammed V forbade immigration to Israel and making Zionism a crime, Mossad mobilized teams of Israeli spies, many of them Moroccan Jews, all French and Arabic speakers to devise ways of extracting the remaining 150,000 Jews out of Morocco. The team was called Misgeret – “Framework”. For 5 years, the Misgeret operation arranged for taxis and trucks to take Jews out of Morocco. When necessary, agents paid bribes to all manner of uniformed officers along the way. A favorite out is through Tangier, at that time an international city, and from its ports on boats to Israel. In March 1961, Mohammed V died and was replaced by his son Hasan II who restored friendly and intelligence relations with Israel. The rule of Hasan II is considered to be the golden era of the secret relations between the two countries, relations cultivated both by the Mossad and by its Moroccan counterparts. Between 1961 and 1967 another 60,000 Jews made “aliya” to Israel. Aliya in Hebrew is “to go live in Israel” but its deeper meaning is “to go up” implying, therefore, the moral and spiritual superiority of living in Israel. The small Jewish community which remained in Morocco has functioned ever since as a bridge for Israel-Moroccan ties, especially during stormy days and crises.
Moroccan intelligence allowed the Mossad to open a station in a villa in the capital, Rabat manned by experienced operatives. When Morocco hosted the Arab League summit in 1965, the Moroccan intelligence allowed the Mossad to bug ALL the Casablanca Hotel rooms and conference halls of all Arab leaders, from Kings, Prime Ministers and Presidents to their military Chief of Staff. While this may have been relatively standard practice for any security services around the world but was truly unusual was the involvement of an officially hostile state and enemy of the Arab world, Israel. According to foreign reports, Mossad operatives were there in helping their Moroccan counterparts in the actual bugging and then sharing of information. Morocco also helped the Mossad in planting agents in hostile Arab countries such as Egypt, then an arch-enemy of Israel.
But the Mossad soon realized that in the spy world, there are no such things as free lunch. In 1965 Moroccan intelligence asked Mossad to locate in Europe and assassinate the charismatic and popular opposition leader Mehdi Ben Barka whose aim was to overthrow King Hassan II. It was clearly an unusual request: to become Morocco’s mercenaries for a domestic political killing. Mossad is used to doing dirty jobs for as long as the intended victim endangers the state of Israel but this is not the case so Eshkol the Mossad Chief vetoed it. As a compromise, Mossad operatives in France located the residence of Ben Barka in Paris endorsed it to the Moroccan intelligence who together with their French police friends did the dirty job.
Meanwhile, everyone in the region is waiting for Saudi Arabia to express its desire to have peace with Israel. Just recently Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly flew to Saudi Arabia and met with crown prince Mohammed-bin-Salmen causing a surge of speculation that the Saudis were on the verge of declaring normalization with Israel. While this has not happened, Abraham Accord Chief negotiator and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner said that an Israeli-Saudi agreement was inevitable and only a matter of time. Saudi Arabia has insisted that any normalization deal must be accompanied by a solution for Palestinian based on a two-state solution. But many believe that Saudi Arabia has tacitly given its blessings to all the other deals made thus far.
The prospect of more peace and prosperity in the Middle East is very promising this year 2021 despite Biden as US president who doesn’t know how to handle the complex Middle East political cauldron. Let’s hope and pray that the elusive peace and not continuous war between the Arabs and Israel will finally come. For according to George Bush (1946- ) “History is moving, and it will tend toward hope, or tend toward tragedy”.