Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Israel cultivating ties with Berbers?

A few Moroccan newspapers, including Maraya Press, are reporting that Israel is cultivating contacts with the native Berbers of North Africa.

Quoting a study at the Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, the articles claim that Israeli influence is causing the Berbers to call for normalization with Israel and some of them want to coordinate with Israel "against the Arabs."

According to the quoted study, Israel believes that the biggest obstacles to making diplomatic progress in North Africa are the Islamic movements there and the Berbers can act as a political counterweight to them, especially in Morocco and Algeria.

If I understand them correctly, the articles claim that Israel will ask the US to economically reward Morocco for its economic relations with Israel and use that as leverage to push other African states to want to cooperate more with the Jewish state.

There is a long history of Berber Jews in North Africa, although most left in the 1950s and 60s.