TANGIER(S) (Tanja), Moroccan town situated at the entrance of the Straits of Gibraltar; known in antiquity as Tingis. Tangier's site was inhabited by the Phoenicians and then by the Carthaginians. A number of historians believe that a Jewish community existed in Tingis, an opinion corroborated by ceramic finds with menorah stamps. Abraham ibn Daud mentions that the Jews were wiped out by the *Almohads (c. 1148) from Tangier to Mahdia (Sefer ha-Kabbalah, 96). Many refugees arrived after the expulsion from *Spain. The *Rote family maintained a commercial house in the town about 1535. In 1541, when the town was ruled by the Portuguese, small sections of the communities of Azemmour and *Safi settled there; the Inquisition, however, outlawed their presence and their stay was thus of brief duration. In 1661, when the Portuguese ceded Tangier to England, the British attracted Muslim and Jewish inhabitants from the neighboring towns of Larache and Ksar el-Kabir. The Jewish community was composed of these new elements, in addition to Jews from the *Netherlands. In 1675 a serious controversy broke out between the Moroccan-born Jews and those of foreign origin; a ḥerem ("ban") was issued against the latter by the rabbis of *Tetuán, to whom the community of Tangier was subordinate. In 1677 the Jews were expelled from the town, not returning until 1680. The principal adviser and interpreter to four successive governors, however, was Solomon *Pariente. Samuel de Paz, a diplomat in the service of the British, lived in Tangier and Jacob Falcon, leader of the Tetuán community, was entrusted with delicate missions by the governors of Tangier. The Jews carried on an extensive trade in the town. However, when the English abandoned the town (1684), this trade came to an end and, with the exception of a few craftsmen, all the Jews left.
In 1725 there was only one important Jewish merchant, Abraham Benamor of *Meknès, who organized a new community of about 150 people, most of whose members were of the same origin as himself; the community appointed R. Judah Hadida, the first dayyan of Tangier, as its leader in 1744. Moses Maman of Meknès, the treasurer of the sultan, encouraged a number of important Jewish merchants of Tetuán, and particularly of *Salé-Rabat, to settle representatives in Tangier, where they were exempted from certain taxes. When Christians were excluded from Tetuán in 1772, a number of European consuls established their consulates in Tangier. They were followed by their Jewish interpreters who enjoyed certain privileges in that capacity. The majority of the community, however, lived in poverty. It was headed by the dayyan R. Aaron *Toledano, who was succeeded by his son R. Moses Toledano and his grandson R. Abraham Toledano. As a result of the presence of delegates of the European nations in Tangier, a number of the Jewish advisers of the sultans were required to reside there: Samuel *Sumbal died there during one of his stays (1783); Jacob Attal was executed there by the sultan Mūlāy Yazīd. This sultan imposed a fine on the poor community which it was incapable of paying. There were fewer than 800 Jews living in Tangier in 1808 and over 2,000 in 1835. The community, however, continued impoverished, in spite of the presence of the *Nahon family, who were engaged in the wax trade on a large scale; Joseph *Chriqui of Mogador, the most influential member of the community; and the *Abensur, Sicsu, Anzancot, and *Benchimol families, who were supported by the European powers to whom they rendered important services. In commemoration of its escape during the French bombardment of Tangier in 1844, the community celebrated a *Purim known as Purim de las bombas, since it did not suffer any losses. By 1856 the situation of the 2,600 Jews in Tangier was still generally distressing, but a definite improvement occurred with the arrival of a new group of Jews from Tetuán. By 1867 the community had increased to 3,500 persons and was headed by the dayyan R. Mordecai Bengio. A wider and more prosperous middle class financed the establishment of the schools of the *Alliance Israélite Universelle (1864).
The Spanish influence, however, which was exerted by the Jews of Tetuán, left a decisive imprint on the community: Spanish was the language spoken by all. The Moroccan press, whose sole center was in Tangier, was controlled by dynamic Jewish elements among whose characteristic personalities were Ben-Ayon, editor of the first newspaper in Tangier (1870); Levy *Cohen, founder and editor of the second newspaper, Le Réveil du Maroc (1884); Phinehas Assayay; Abraham Pimienta; and Isaac Laredo. Other newspapers made their appearance after
Approximately 12,000 Jews lived in the International Zone of Tangier in 1948, and by 1950 about 2,000 Spanish Moroccan Jews joined them, bringing their total to about 15,000 in 1951. Pre-1956 Tangier also had a highly heterogeneous population that included 40,000 Muslims, 20,000 Spanish, 6,000 French, and 5,000 other Europeans. The Jews of Tangier had the highest proportion of bearers of foreign passports in comparison to the rest of the Moroccan Jewish communities. In fact, politically, during the colonial era, the Jews of Tangier enjoyed an autonomy unheard of throughout the country. They possessed rights granted by the international zone's legislative assembly and approved by Morocco's sultan. After Morocco gained independence in March 1956, Tangier still retained its international zone status until October of that year before being annexed into a unified Moroccan Kingdom. Several Jewish personalities of Tangier, including Solomon M. Pinto, attempted to preserve the community of about 17,000 persons. A powerful movement for emigration had, however, already been set in motion. During the 1950s and early 1960s, when Morocco prevented Jews from leaving, suspecting that their final destination was Israel, the Israeli Mossad in conjunction with local activists used Tangier as an underground center to smuggle people – by land and sea routes – to Algeciras (southern Spain) and Gibraltar. Jews from Tangier helped build up a new Jewish community in Madrid, while others settled in Geneva, Canada, or the United States. Only a few hundred emigrated to Israel. After Tangier had been annexed by Morocco the number of Jews fell to about 4,000 in 1968. Before the annexation, the Jewish community had three representatives on the Tangier Legislative Assembly; the head of the rabbinical court was the officially recognized representative of the community. In the 1950s and 1960s the *Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Oẓar ha-Torah maintained schools there. A vocational school was supported by the American Joint Distribution Committee. The community also had a rabbinical seminary and social welfare institutions. There were only about 250 Jews in Tangier in 1970. Since then Jewish institutions have gradually disappeared. Even though a campus of the American University was established there, Jewish schools closed down. Tangier of the post-1970 period was no longer the cosmopolitan international zone of the Maghreb. This period saw the rise of Islamic radicalism, abject poverty, and the departure of most Europeans. Antisemitism was on the rise in the 1990s. With the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in September 2000, an angry mob marched in the streets, chanting for a holy war against the Jews and the U.S. King Muhammad VI responded and warned Muslims not to abuse Jews, placing armed guards around remaining Jewish institutions. In 2005 fewer than 150 Jews remained in Tangier, most of them elderly persons. It is likely that within a decade no Jews will remain there.
C. de Nesry, Le Juif de Tanger et le Maroc (1956); J. Abensur, Mishpat u-Ẓedakah be-Ya'akov, 1–2 (1899–1901), passim; CH Firth, in: JHSET, 4 (1899–1901), 198–201; A.I. Laredo, Memorias de un Viejo Tangerino (1935); J.M. Toledano, in: HUCA, 8–9 (1931–32), 481–92 (Heb.); D. Corcos, in: Sefunot, 10 (1966), passim; Hirschberg, Afrikah, index; idem, in: Essays Presented to Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie… (1967), 155–7; Miège, Maroc, passim. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M.M. Laskier, The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Jewish Communities of Morocco: 1862 – 1962 (1983); M. Serels, A History of the Jews of Tangier in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (1991); S. Graham, The International City of Tangier (1955).
[David Corcos and
Haim J. Cohen /
Michael M. Laskier (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.