The Divergence of Judaism and Islam. Interdependence, Modernity, and Political Turmoil

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152 · Daniel J. Schroeter

urban poor was also a very important part of the Alliance’s ideological
goal in Morocco. From its very origins in Morocco in 1860s, the Alliance
considered ways to provide agricultural training to Moroccan Jews. The
director of the AIU schools in Tangier, Samuel Hirsch, later became head
of the Mikveh Israel school in Palestine. He rejected, however, a pro-
posal in 1873 by the Austrian consul in Tangier to provide land he owned
outside Tetuan for an experimental farm school, expressing fears of in-
security and the lack of the rights of Jews to own farmland. Instead, he
proposed that the AIU develop a program with French settlers in Alge-
ria where Moroccan Jews could emigrate.^36 The “discovery” by Nahum
Slouschz of the Jewish farming community of Oulad Mansour in 1912
was followed by a visit by the director of the Alliance school in Mar-
rakesh in 1913, who reported on the Jewish farmers of Oulad Mansour to
the president of the AIU:

These brave souls, in my opinion, are worthy of interest. The Cen-
tral Committee will certainly also think so. The most useful work
that can be introduced is agricultural work. It is of interest to attach
this population to the soil which it cultivates itself, giving it the
means to become landowners. A young man trained on your farms
of Djédeida or Mikveh Israel, who is Arab speaking, would be a
valuable guide.^37

However, little concrete action was taken in Morocco to try to realize the
aim of producing Jewish farmers until the mid-1930s, once the French
military was firmly in control of all Morocco. A program was developed
at Souk al-Arba in the Gharb, through the help of a retired leader of the
AIU in cooperation with French settlers and Muslims, to encourage urban
Jews to “return to the land.” Jewish farmers, however, were to develop
modern farming techniques patterned after the French colonial settlers.
Wealthy Jews had purchased rural land near the major cities increasingly
since 1912, and it was hoped that this would provide the opportunity
to extend Jewish agricultural training. In 1936, an agricultural training
center was established in Marrakesh, the École Professionnelle Agricole,
which developed a whole program in modern agricultural techniques
and training, subsidized by the AIU and protectorate authorities. Its
French director was a graduate of the École Coloniale d’Agriculture
of Tunis. Students enrolled, first from Marrakesh and then from other
towns, and graduates were able to find employment on the expanding

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