x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Moroccan Jews lose community leader

An Arabic-language paper notes the passing of a prominent Moroccan Jewish leader. Other topics today: the division of Palestine, Egypt's military, and the UAE at 40.

Moroccan Jews lose community leader

Shimon Levy, director of Casablanca's Museum of Moroccan Judaism, died on Friday at the age of 77, the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat reported yesterday. His is the only Jewish-themed museum in the Arab world.

Born in the ancient Moroccan city of Fez, Mr Levy breathed his last in an intensive care unit in the capital Rabat.

"Mr Levy led a politically eventful life. Barely 20, he joined the ranks of the nationalist movement for resistance against the French colonialists," Asharq Al Awsat reported.

He turned down French citizenship, which France offered to all Jews in its colonies in North Africa, preferring to live for 24 years without citizenship documents, until the Moroccan citizenship law came into effect in 1958, two years after independence.

Mr Levy is also remembered for being a fervent defender of the Palestinian cause and an advocate of the rights of the working class in Morocco. He was one of the prominent figures of Morocco's Party for Progress and Socialism, and the leader of the Jewish community in Casablanca.

In both roles, he is credited with promoting the values of tolerance between Muslims and Jews.

In 1998, he set up the Foundation of Jewish-Moroccan Cultural Heritage, that works to protect Jewish-Moroccan heritage from looting and smuggling outside the country, especially to Israel.


At age 40, UAE has big plans for the future

After 40 years of steady nation- building, which started with the establishment of the United Arab Emirates as a sovereign nation in 1971, the UAE has ambitions for the future, wrote Abdullah Al Awadi, a contributor to the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad, in an opinion article yesterday.

At the federal level, the UAE has strategic development plans for 2021, to improve infrastructure and services across all emirates. At the emirate level, Abu Dhabi has its 2030 Vision and Dubai has plans spanning the next several decades, up until 2050.

These are "calculated ambitions", the writer said. "At 40, the UAE is already looking at the generation of peaceful nuclear power and considering renewable energy resources, namely solar power, to protect the environment."

Take Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, for instance. It will limit carbon emissions using the most advanced technologies available.

And there are other projects in the pipeline, not least a railway system connecting all the emirates, the writer added. "The authority to supervise this project has been created, and we will be seeing the results in 2015."

There is also talk about expanding this railway system to connect with other Gulf states.

Suffice it to say, the writer concluded, that "when visitors look at the achievements of the past 40 years, they think it must have taken a full century."



Egypt: give the army credit when it's due

Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has been severely criticised because of its overbearing role in country's affairs since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak's regime in February, the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi noted in a weekend editorial.

However, the newspaper noted, the SCAF did respond to some demands chanted by the protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square. It did dissolve the cabinet of Essam Sharaf, which had been perceived by many as weak, and set a date for the much-awaited presidential elections - next summer.

The SCAF also promised to introduce other democratic reforms, but was firm in rejecting demands to postpone the current parliamentary elections, which started last Monday and will continue until next March.

Some voices had called for postponement of the parliamentary elections after a sudden outbreak of violence left more than 40 people dead only a couple of weeks before the elections.

"The SCAF was right," the newspaper said. "These [first round of elections] were fair, transparent and generally problem-free, and credit is due to the army for that … The SCAF mobilised tens of thousands of troops to protect the ballot boxes, organise the queues and pre-empt any issues."

If part of the success of these elections is owed to the SCAF, there is nothing wrong with saying so, the paper added.


Division of Palestine has lasted 64 years

Last Tuesday marked the 64th anniversary of the United Nations' resolution Number 181, which sanctioned the division of the historical land of Palestine into two states, one for Arabs and the other for Jews, lawyer Rajeh Abu Asab wrote in yesterday's edition of the West Bank-based newspaper Al Quds.

It was November 29, 1947. Under the resolution, 56 per cent of the land would go to the Jewish state, 43 per cent to the Palestinian state, and the remaining one per cent to Jerusalem, to be an international zone.

Jewish community leaders hailed the decision as a historic triumph and a recognition of their right to statehood. Palestinian and Arab leaders, except for the Communist Party, all rejected it. Little did they know, their "emotional and ungrounded" rejection would turn out to be a "fateful mistake", the writer said.

After rejecting the deal, the Palestinians and other Arabs lost the 1948 war that followed the proclamation of Israel as a state, helping the latter to even more Palestinian territories.

When the war was over, Israel had seized 78 per cent of the land, 22 per cent more than the UN resolution allowed it, the writer said.

Now Palestinians are fighting for the 1967 borders. How can their struggle be unjust?

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi