Yesterday, Morocco joined the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan in normalizing relations with the Jewish state. While Rabat did send troops to join in the 1948 attempt to annihilate Israel, it has historically been less hostile to Jerusalem than many other Arab nations. The North African kingdom was also once home to a large and thriving Jewish community, which was never the case in the Gulf states or in Sudan. Raphael Ahren writes:
Moroccan Jewry’s origins date back 2,000 years, to the destruction of the Second Temple and exile. In the modern era, the community reached a [peak population] of some 250,000 in the early 1940s, when Sultan Mohammed V resisted Nazi pressure for their deportation. Numbers dwindled with the establishment of Israel, and today only some 2,000-3,000 Jews remain, but hundreds of thousands of Israelis are proud of their Moroccan origins.
[Mimouna, a holiday that northwest African Jews] traditionally celebrate right after Passover ends, has become a fixture of the Israeli cultural calendar, with countless people barbequing in parks and politicians rushing to as many Mimouna celebrations as possible.
While Israeli tourists have begun discovering the Gulf only very recently, they have been flocking to Rabat, Marrakech, Casablanca, Tangiers, and Fez via third countries for many years. Once the two countries establish diplomatic relations and open direct air-links, that number can be expected to increase dramatically.
Following the 1995 Oslo Accords, Morocco and Israel opened mutual “liaison offices,” but they were closed a few years later after the second intifada broke out in 2000.