From 'Little Jerusalems' to the promised land: Zionism, Moroccan nationalism, and rural Jewish emigration

Aomar Boum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This article provides an ethnographic and historical perspective on the migration of rural Jewish communities from the region of Sous, southern Morocco, to Israel in the early 1960s. Building on theories of the relationship between diaspora, homeland, and nationalism, and using ethnographic data collected among Moroccan Jews and Muslims from the region, I argue that even though the economic factors played a substantial role in persuading rural Jews to migrate to Israel, historical symbols of traditional messianic Zionism played a major role in the migration of rural Jewry. Unlike urban Jews who settled in different Moroccan cities after the Spanish Inquisition, Jews from Akka and other neighbouring hamlets have a particular view of history to which Zionism appealed. In this article, I use a historical narrative to argue that southern Moroccan Jews, whether their memory is based on supposition or fact, imagined their history as connected to Palestine. Accordingly, Zionists invoked these historical messianic symbols to which local rural Jews from Akka and other neighbouring villages subscribed to capture their political, religious, and national support. Henceforth, my contention is that although local and global social, political, and economic stresses in the first half of the twentieth century influenced this migration, the underlying cause is largely attributed to the imagined or real historical roots of these populations towards Palestine as opposed to the roots of Andalusian Jews.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-69
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of North African Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Akka
  • Jews
  • Migration
  • Moroccan nationalism
  • Southern Moroccan oases
  • Zionism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'From 'Little Jerusalems' to the promised land: Zionism, Moroccan nationalism, and rural Jewish emigration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this