Relations with the Sultans

King Mohammed V (1953)

To the Jewish community, the Sultan was its salvation. By paying heavy taxes, the community secured its right to practice Judaism and live in peace. At times, almost 50 percent of government revenues came from Jews. In some ways, Jews lived in greater security than Muslims. They had less danger of individual persecution, although their neighborhoods were occasionally pillaged. They also were able to gain access to the authorities and obtain justice more easily than Muslims. However, while many Sultans treated Jews with a great deal of tolerance, Jews often experienced strong pressure to convert to Islam.

Together, Jews and Muslims rode the cycles of Moroccan history. Typically, there was a calm period, characterized by a sense of ease, security and even prosperity for much of the population. When a ruler’s claim to power was challenged by competing claimants to the Throne, the country often would be thrown into chaos, when no one could live in security. Jews, however, would be more vulnerable than Muslims to attacks. Once a new ruler established his authority, both Jews and Muslims would attempt to regain their previous living standards. Under these circumstances, many Jews were reduced to poverty and could not escape.