Visiting Jewish Morocco during the Israel-Hamas War

Demonstrators march to express support for Palestinians amid the 2023 Israel-Gaza war, in Rabat, Morocco, on October 15, 2023. (FADEL SENNA/AFP from Times of Israel)

Moroccan tourism has suffered a double whammy in 2023, first with the massive September 8th earthquake in the mountains south of Marrakesh and now the Israel-Hamas War that began on October 7th. Moroccans advocated strongly for tourists to continue to visit after the earthquake but have been less welcoming to Jews from Israel and the rest of the world during the ongoing war. But is traveling to Morocco safe now? 

US State Department Guidance

The answer from the US Department of State is for travelers to “exercise increased caution.” That is level 2, where level 1 is “exercise normal precautions,” level 3 is “reconsider travel” and level 4 is “do not travel.” The worldwide caution issued on November 4th states:

Due to increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution.  U.S. citizens should:

This worldwide caution builds on a travel advisory issued on July 13th:

Exercise increased caution in Morocco due to terrorism.

Country Summary: Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Morocco. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Morocco.

If you decide to travel to Morocco:

In addition, on October 18th, the Embassy issued a security alert regarding planned demonstrations:

Location: Morocco  

Event: Demonstrations are planned in both Rabat and Casablanca. These demonstrations are in response to the ongoing conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip and are expected to be critical of the U.S. Government.

Anticipated location for the afternoon and evening of Wednesday, October 18:  

  • Boulevard Moulay Youssef, Casablanca (Near U.S. Consulate)

Anticipated location for the afternoon and evening of Thursday, October 19:  

  • Avenue Ahmed Balarej, Rabat (Near UNDP)

On October 18, the U.S. Consulate in Casablanca will close for the day at 14:00.

Though protests in Morocco are normally peaceful, these events may have large turnouts and crowds may be emotionally charged.  Heavy traffic and street closures could result in congestion and delays in the areas of the largest gatherings.  Security services may try to prevent large gatherings, creating the potential for more dangerous situations.  

Additionally, stay clear of large crowds.  Large gatherings can be unpredictable even when their intentions are peaceful.    

Actions to take:

  • Monitor local media for updates
  • Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert in public places
  • Steer clear of large crowds
  • Keep a low profile in terms of dress and public conduct
  • Carry proper identification at all times
  • Keep doors locked and windows closed if you must drive through crowds
  • Follow instructions of security personnel
  • Should you find yourself in a demonstration, exercise caution, maintain a low profile, and leave the area  
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

Israeli Government Advice

The Israeli Government is taking a more conservative approach to travel for its citizens. It advised them not to travel overseas. If they do so, they should avoid outwardly displaying that they are Israeli or Jewish. It noted the potential for attacks on Jewish institutions and protests in countries that the country has not previously considered dangerous. “The National Security Council and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have identified a significant rise in antisemitism and anti-Israel incitement, alongside life-threatening violent attacks on Israelis and Jews around the world,” it said. In particular, it specified several areas as dangerous: the Middle East, Arab countries, the region surrounding Iran and the North Caucasus.

More specifically, the Government specified that Israelis should exercise caution around Jewish institutions. “Jewish communities, religious and community establishments (synagogues, Chabad centers, kosher restaurants and Israeli businesses), Israeli delegations, and airports with flights to and from Israel are key targets for protests and attacks by antisemitic groups.” It also advised “checking whether there have been anti-Israel protests and violence at your destination, including countries for which no travel warnings have been issued.”

My Own Guidance

I would add that Moroccans, regardless of their solidarity with the Palestinians, have been extremely welcoming to Jewish tourists from Israel and the rest of the world. Moroccan security forces do an excellent job of keeping order during demonstrations. However, emotions during the war are strong, so it is best for Jewish and Israeli tourists to stay away from demonstrations, rallies and any other political events. Please follow the guidance of your tour guides and hotel concierges.

Published by rickgold2013

Rick Gold is a Jewish-American who lived in Morocco from 1988-1992, built a home there and visited dozens of Jewish communities and hundred of Jewish sites throughout the country

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