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ALAWIDS (Ar. ʿAlawiyyūn ), dynasty of sharifs, i.e., noble descendants of the prophet Muhammad, by his daughter Fāṭima and her husband, Ali ibn Abu Ṭālib, his cousin. It rose to power in *Morocco in the middle of the 17th century and continues to reign there. The dynasty claims to be descended from Hasan, the elder son of Muhammad, and it is therefore called Alawids of the Hasan branch. These sharifs came from Arab countries and settled in the Tāfīlālt region, in southeastern Morocco, as early as the 13th century; thus, they are also called Filālī (or Hilālī). The rise of the Alawids to power in the 17th century was connected with riots and uprisings which broke out in the country at the end of the reign of the Saÿdis, about whom much is also related in Jewish chronicles. These chronicles, Divrei ha-Yamim, based on the family of Ibn Danān, Kisse ha-Melakhim by Raphael Moses Elbaz, and Yaḥas Fas by Abner Zarfaty, devote ample space to the events of the time and to a description of the sharifs. Historians consider al-Rashīd (1660–72) as the true founder of the dynasty; one of the famous Alawids was the sharif Ismail (1672–1727), a controversial figure. Arabic sources view him as the one who established the dynasty, an energetic ruler who succeeded in uniting and consolidating the state and introducing order and security. In contrast, the contemporary European sources emphasize Ismail's cruelty to his subjects and to Christian captives. According to them, no one in the history of the Maghreb spilled innocent blood as he did. Jewish courtiers and officials such as Daniel Toledano, Joseph Maymeran, Moses Abenatar, Abraham b. Quiqui, and others (see *Morocco) surrounded Ismail. European diplomatic reports and contemporary travelogues supply rich material which stresses the great part of these Jews in the relations with European countries. After Ismail's death there were 30 years of riots and uprisings in the country (1727–57) when the sons of Ismail fought each other over the distribution of the inheritance and rule over Meknes, the capital. The entire population suffered and only with the accession of Muhammad ibn 'Abdallah (1757–90) was the country pacified. However, immediately after his death, the reign of terror of his son Yazīd (1790–92) began. The latter vented his anger on Jews and Christians, particularly on Spaniards, and maintained friendly relations only with the British, as his mother (or her mother) was English. Disunity prevailed and his brothers proclaimed themselves kings, one in the southwest, and the other in the southeast. The situation of the Jews during that time is described by S. *Romanelli in Massa be-Arav.

In the 19th century a certain relaxation in the relations between the rulers and the population took place, while in contrast, tension mounted with the neighbors across the border, the French ruling in Algeria and the Spaniards who for hundreds of years held a series of cities on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco (Ceuta, Mellila) and hoped to expand their authority in the north. As is usual during times of troubles and wars, the Jews were the major victims, both during the Franco-Moroccan war (1844–45) and the Spanish-Moroccan war (1859–60). Indeed, in 1864 the sharif Moulay Muhammad (1859–73) gave Sir Moses *Montefiore an audience and promised him that his government would be concerned with the civil rights and protection of the Jews. He even issued a royal edict, Ẓahīr, in that spirit whose proclamations and instructions were in effect only on paper. In 1863 the *capitulations treaty was signed between France and Morocco. Belgium, Sardinia, the United States, England, and Sweden were also party to this agreement which influenced the improvement of the situation of the Jews in Morocco who had succeeded in various ways to be included in its framework. The Madrid Convention in 1880 expanded the application of the capitulations to additional countries and decided on lengthy and comprehensive commentaries to its items (chapters). This clearly contained the reduction of Moroccan independence and sovereignty.

From 1873 to 1912 the Alawid sharifs made desperate attempts to preserve the integrity of their kingdom and protect it from imperialist aspirations of the European countries, particularly France who sought to annex Morocco to its overseas empire after it had extended its protection over Tunisia in 1881. The reign of Hasan (1873–94) and ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz constituted an unceasing decline of sharif rule. The sharif ʿAbd al-Ḥāfiẓ (1909–13) was compelled to sign a treaty with France on March 30, 1912, according to which France received most of Morocco as its protectorate. A similar treaty was signed at the end of the same year with Spain, whose share of the loot included the northern region of Morocco extending along the Mediterranean coast. ʿAbd al-Ḥāfiẓ relinquished the throne and his brother Moulay Yusuf (1913–26), who was prepared to cooperate with the authorities of the protectorate powers, ruled in his stead. His son Muhammad V (1926–61) became king at the age of 18. He possessed a great deal of diplomatic talent and helped France during the difficult period of World War ii. In addition, he opposed the racist policy of the Vichy government and announced his personal protection of the Jews in his country. He was removed in 1953, apparently by political opponents in his country who enthroned one of his relatives, Sīdī Muhammad ibn ʿArafa. Muhammad spent two years in exile and was returned to his country with great honor in 1955 and continued to rule. After his death his son Hasan (1961–1999) became king.

King Hasan's regime was characterized by the tightening of internal control and a military buildup. He oppressed his political opponents and tried to unify the country. He also fought against the Polisario resistance in southern Morocco. King Hasan's attitude toward Moroccan Jews was favorable. Under his regime most Jews left the country during the "Yachin Operation" (1961–64). Jews who remained in Morocco lived safely and could practice their religion and continue their economic activity. The Israeli secret services helped King Hasan to build his own secret services. In addition, Hasan headed the Jerusalem committee of the Arab League. His contribution to the peace process in the Middle East was of great importance. Moroccan Jews in Israel, France, and Morocco also helped Israeli leaders make contact with the palace.

King Mohamed vi, Hasan's son, took over at a very young age. He quickly began to introduce some reforms with regard to democratic processes and women's rights. Thus, he released political prisoners and authorized expatriates, such as Abraham Zarfaty, a Moroccan Jewish communist and syndicalist, to return to Morocco. The country was open to Israeli tourists but diplomatic relations were broken off because of the Intifada. Mohamed vi found in Morocco a small Jewish community of not over 7,000 people, most of them in Casablanca and enjoying Jewish communal life.


ei2; H. Terrasse, Histoire du Maroc, 2 (1950), 239–408; N. Babour, A Survey of North West Africa (1962), 75–188, 329–86; Budgett Meakin, The Moorish Empire (1899), 136–216; G. Vajda, Un recueil de textes historiques judéo-marocains (1951); Hirschberg, Afrikah, 2 (1965), 245–54, 260–305. add. bibliography: R. Assaraf, Mohammed V et les Juifs du Maroc à l'époque de Vichy (1997); idem, Une certaine histoire des Juifs du Maroc, 18601999, (2005); M. Kenbib, Juifs et Musulmans au Maroc 18591948: Contribution à l'histoire des relations inter-communautaires en terre d'Islam (1994); M.M. Laskier & Eliezer Bashan, "Morocco," in: R. Simon et al., The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa in Modern Times (2003), 471–504; M.M. Laskier, Israel and the Maghreb, from statehood to Oslo, (2004); E. Bashan, Yahadut Maroco, Avara ve-tarbuta, (2000), 298–87; H. Saadoun, Ha-Yehudim be-Maroco ha-Aẓma'it, in: H. Saadoun (ed.), Yehudei ha-Mizraḥ ba-Me'ot ha-Tesha-Esre ve-ha-Esrim, Marocco, (1994), pp.97–92; Yaron Zur, Kehillah Keru'ah, Yehudei Marocco ve-ha-Le'ummiyyut 19431954 (2002).

[Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg /

Haim Saadoun (2nd ed.)]