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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 15th September 2017 > THE KING AND CHAI

THE KING AND CHAI

Morocco’s Muslim monarch is trying to preserve the country’s Jewish history—before it’s gone

A DECADE AGO, when Elmehdi Boudra began attending college in his native Morocco, he didn’t expect to see swastikas scrawled on his door. Like almost every other student at his school, Boudra is Muslim. But growing up, his grandmother cooked him Jewish food and told him stories about Jewish friends—including the woman who nursed her. “We didn’t care who was Jewish and who was Muslim,” Boudra recalls his grandmother saying. “We were Moroccans—and human.”

Yet Boudra’s peers didn’t like his fondness for

Jewish culture, and they let him know it, both with the swastikas on his door and with the names they called him: rabbi, Zionist, a traitor to the Palestinian cause. “They never met Jews before,” says Boudra. “To them, Judaism is Israel. It’s the Palestinian conflict.”

For the past 10 years, Boudra’s organization, Mimouna, has worked to educate young Moroccans about the nation’s Jewish history. (The group is named after a religious festival that Jews in Morocco used to celebrate with their Muslim neighbors.) They’ve even convinced Morocco’s Al-Akhawayn University, Boudra’s alma mater, to make Hebrew and Jewish studies classes part of the curriculum.

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BLAME CLINTON? When Gennifer Flowers went public about her a air with then-Governor Bill Clinton, she called a press conference that devolved from farce to vaudeville. It became clear that the retaining wall between news and entertainment had collapsed.