Jewish Maghrib Jukebox

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Morocco's Oldest Jewish Hospital Demolished - Benchimol Hospital, Tangier


Article from Point of No Return:

Morocco lost one of its historic landmarks when the oldest hospital in the land, the Jewish Benchimol hospital in Tangiers, was rased overnight on 2 April. And the Jewish cemetery might be next.

Why did the demolition squads choose the dead of night and the middle of the festival of Passover to do the deed? And who ordered them in? The Moroccan newspaper Liberation, lamenting the destruction of Morocco's heritage, blames not just the local municipality for this act of historic vandalism, but the local Jewish community, which ostensibly 'sold' the pre-colonial, 110-year-old hospital in order to raise money for its poor - in spite of objections from the Fondation du Patrimoine Culturel Judeo-Marocain, whose aim is to safeguard Morocco's Jewish heritage. (Another report, however, says that the community did not own the site, which was the property of the Benchimol family, French nationals. Only the French consulate would have been able to give approval for the hospital to be torn down.)

Historian Ralph Toledano prefers to speculate that a rogue Wali is to blame, who acted without the knowledge and consent of the king. The deed was done while the few members of the tiny Jewish community were away.

"It is not just that this was a Jewish building which upsets me. All destruction of historic heritage is an irredeemable loss. A heritage cannot be reconstituted," Toledano writes. He admits that he had heard rumours that the local authorities had been wanting to demolish the building for some time. The (bizarre) aim was to turn the site into a public park, adjoining the ancient palace of Sultan Moulay Hafid. "One must never despise rumours, they often become fact."

Hence must be taken seriously a rumour that the municipality has next set its sights on the Jewish cemetery of dar el San’a, on rue du Portugal, opposite Bab America. The cemetery was an 18th century concession negotiated between the Sherifian king's representative and the Jewish community on the site of an old Portuguese fort.

The site measures more than a hectare, and commands a beautiful view over the straits. Mr Toledano is horrified at the thought that a site where venerable rabbis and community dignitaries are buried might be bulldozed. The 15th century Castille cemetery in Tetuan has a similarly breathtaking view.

Article in Liberation Magazine:
http://www.libe.ma/Responsables-de-tous-bords-respectez-le-patrimoine-national--L-hopital-Benchimol-de-Tanger-rase_a10530.html

Interesting back and forth on the demolition and other demolitions/destruction/vandalism: http://www.darnna.com/phorum/read.php?13,171291,171342
(Pay attention to situation of cemetery at Tinghrir)

More updates soon.

3 comments:

JBB said...

more on the subject:
http://www.maghreb-intelligence.com/maroc/151-israel-garzon-veut-sauver-lhopital-benchimol-

Israel Garzon veut sauver Benchimol
Vendredi, 23 Avril 2010 21:21
L’hôpital israélite Benchimol se trouve au milieu d’une polémique entre les autorités de la ville de Tanger et certaines personnalités juives. D’après les services compétents à la wilaya de Tanger, l’édifice de l’hôpital menaçait ruine et allait être la cause d’une véritable catastrophe. D’où la décision de raser l’immeuble abritant l’hôpital.

La décision des autorités tangéroises n’a soulevé aucune réaction de la part de la communauté juive marocaine réputée très influente et dont les monuments sont protégés et souvent restaurés par l’Etat marocain. Bizarrement, c’est le président des communautés juives espagnoles Jacobo Israel Garzon qui s’est fendu d’une lettre de protestation à l'adresse du wali de la ville dans laquelle il s’insurge contre ce qu’il considère comme une sérieuse atteinte au droit à la propriété. La réaction de Jacobo Israel Garzon, selon des membres de la communauté juive tangéroise, obéit à un agenda proprement espagnol. L’homme étant connu pour ses accointances avec la droite « franquiste » hostile au Maroc.
Il faut souligner que la communauté juive de Tanger, forte de plusieurs dizaines de personne, n’a pas réagi à la décision de démolition. Le président de cette communauté, Abraham Azencot, qui connait très bien le dossier de l’hôpital Benchimol n’a jusque-là émis aucun commentaire sur cette affaire.

FernandaW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel Buaron said...

According to my mother I was born in this hospital on 08/11/1959.
Is there any possibility to find a copy of my birth certificate or was everything destroyed ?
If you have an answer please reply to
rachelbuaron@gmail.com