On November 18, I received the sad news: my Moroccan friend and teacher, Abraham Serfaty, passed away in Marrakesh, Morocco. Serfaty was a well-known Moroccan communist dissident and an anti-Zionist Jewish Arab. He died at the age of 83, after a long illness.
My relationship with Abraham started four decades ago with a small book he wrote in prison, on the Arab Revolution, Jews, and Zionism. I was impressed but also had numerous disagreements and wanted very much to meet him. He was, however, at that time in the horrible Kenitra prison, sentenced to life for attempting to overthrow the Moroccan regime, with a group of left-communist dissidents organized under the name Ila Al Amam. So, I decided to contact exiled members of the group in Paris and, through them, I began indirect correspondence with Abraham.
Thanks to a successful international solidarity campaign, Serfaty was released in 1991 but was denied his Moroccan citizenship, a measure that hurt him much. A couple of weeks later I took a flight to France to meet him.
For 48 hours we talked about the Arab Revolution, the world situation, and Israeli society and politics. He was especially interested to understand the feelings of the Moroccan Jews in Israel, having great illusions in the capacity to bring them back to their Moroccan homeland.
Young supporters recorded this very long exchange with the intention to make it into a book, but, fascinated with the discussion, they didn’t notice that the recorder was not working.
During the following decade we correspond a lot and met several times in public meetings in Europe and North America. His health was deteriorating due to the torture he underwent from his first arrest in 1972.
The death of Hassan II ended Serfaty’s exile. In 2000 his citizenship was restored, as well as his job as a senior engineer in the national phosphate company. I planned many times to visit him in Marrakesh, but failed to do it.
Having known Abraham Serfaty was an important chapter in my life as an activist; being his friend was a great honor. My only regret is that I didn’t have the opportunity to say farewell to this great man, a great Arab, a great Jew.
Michael Warschawski is a co-founder of the Alternative Information Center. This article was first published by the Alternative Information Center on 2 December 2010 under a Creative Commons license. See, also, Hassan Hamdani, “Témoignages. Abraham Serfaty, par ses compagnons” (TelQuel, 5 December 2010).