Copyright 2003 The Jerusalem Post  
The Jerusalem Post


May 19, 2003, Monday


LENGTH: 365 words

HEADLINE: Benlulu: Moroccan Jews should immigrate

BYLINE: Nina Gilbert


Likud MK Daniel Benlulu, whose father and stepbrothers live in Casablanca, said Sunday he intends to organize a delegation to Morocco to try and convince the 3,000-member Jewish community to immigrate to Israel following Saturday's suicide attacks on Jewish targets.

Benlulu, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 from Casablanca, said that when he heard of the attacks he immediately tried to contact his family. "When I could not get a hold of them I was terribly afraid that something had happened," he said. According to Benlulu, 1,700 Jews live in Casablanca and the rest in the periphery.

He said he has learned from his relatives that there are plans to boost Jewish security in
Morocco in light of terrorist threats.

Benlulu said he hopes the Jewish Agency will be able to offer assistance to older people to persuade them to immigrate to Israel.

At the sane time, he said he is sure the Moroccan people are interested in keeping the Jewish community and maintaining good relations with Israel.

Benlulu said his family frequented the Jewish-owned restaurant that was one of the targets of the attacks that killed more than 40. "My father used to be responsible for giving the restaurant a kashrut certificate," he said.

Yet, Benlulu said he does not believe the suicide bombers aimed to kill only Jews, since the Jewish community center that was bombed is closed on Shabbat.

Instead, he believes the attacks were aimed at harming Moroccan King Muhammad IV because of his good relations with the US and Israel.

Benlulu said he had spoken recently with his family about the risks of terrorist attacks in

Rafi Elul, a former Labor MK who is a leader in the Moroccan Jewish immigrant community, said the attack on Jewish targets in Casablanca took him "completely by surprise."

Elul said he is sure the attack won't set back relations between Israel and
Morocco. King Muhammad is US- educated and has an American orientation, he said, adding, "I am sure he will act to uproot terrorism in Morocco."

Elul said that during his last visit to
Morocco his delegation was "warmly welcomed," and he does not expect that attitude to change.