The conference ”” held at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, a town in the Atlas Mountains about two hours south of Rabat ”” brought together Holocaust scholars and survivors, leaders of Morocco’s Jewish community and American Jewish and Moroccan Muslim students. Its twin mandates were to teach about the extermination of European Jewry and to pay homage to the courage of Morocco’s wartime king, Mohammed V, in resisting the orders of the Vichy French occupation government to round up and turn over Jews for internment and probable death.
Uncommonly among Arab and Muslim nations, Morocco has accepted the reality of the Holocaust, rather than either dismissing it outright or portraying it as a European crime for which those countries paid the price in the form of Israel’s creation. Partly, no doubt, because of Mohammed V’s stand against the Vichy regime, the current king, Mohammed VI, called in a 2009 proclamation for “an exhaustive and faithful reading of the history of this period” as part of “the duty of remembrance dictated by the Shoah.”
Still, the recent conference would never have occurred without Mr. Boudra. Now 24 and majoring in political science, Mr. Boudra grew up after much of Morocco’s Jewish population had moved to France or Israel. But he heard from his grandmother about her childhood in the Jewish quarter of Casablanca, and a grandfather still had Jewish neighbors in his apartment house.