Head of Jewish community in Morocco says King Muhammad V saved Jews during World War II by resisting demands of ruling French regime, making him eligible for title
Published: 07.20.07, 15:11 / Israel Jewish Scene
Heads of the Jewish community in Morocco have initiated a move calling for Muhammad V of Marocco, who was king during World War II, to be named Righteous Among the Nations for his efforts of saving the Jews of his country.
This initiative is being promoted by head of the Jewish community in Morocco, Serge Bardugo, who was recently appointed roaming ambassador by king Muhammad VI of Marocco..
Arriving in Israel earlier this week to attend President Shimon Peres' inauguration ceremony, Bardugo claimed he had testimonies of Jews who survived due to the king's decision not to implement the anti-Jewish race laws, or send Morocco's Jews to France, despite demands by Morocco's sovereign at the time, the pro-Nazi French government of Vichy.
By refusing the demands of the Vichy government, claimed Bardugo, the king risked his life, making him eligible for the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
The organization in charge of awarding such a title is the Public Committee for the Righteous Among the Nations, of Yad Vashem.
The committee is headed by a retired High Court justice, and it includes Holocaust survivors, legal experts and historians.
One of the criteria for receiving the title is the saving of Jews while risking ones life.
"Should we receive clear-cut evidence in the matter, it will be investigated and the proper decision will be made," Iris Rosenberg, Yad Vashem spokesperson, said Friday.
Naming the king Righteous Among the Nations, could have a great affect on Israeli-Moroccan relations, and as such, was endorsed by President Peres.
Officials at Yad Vashem said that with all due respect to President Peres' endorsement, neither his nor any other government official's recommendation would have any affect on the matter.
Since the establishment of Yad Vashem 21,700 people were awarded the title, 60 of whom were Muslims. Should Muhammad V be named Righteous Among the Nations, he would be the first Arab ever holding the title.