Abitan, Maklouf

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Maklouf Abitan was born in 1908 in Casablanca. His parents had moved to this growing coastal city from the Dra’a Valley. As a child he attended traditional Jewish schools, first a ṣlā (the Moroccan version of a ḥeder - see Kuttāb) and then a yeshiva. He was a self-educated individual who taught himself French and was an avid reader of the press and literature in general. He and his wife Suliqa had three sons and five daughters. For a living, he ran a haberdashery.

Abitan was active in the Hebrew and Jewish national revival that took place in Casablanca in the 1930s. In his home he hosted a Hebrew club, and he was in touch with other Jewish intellectuals in the city, among them David Bouzaglo, Ḥaim Naḥmany, and Yehiel Bouskila. He was a supporter of the Zionist movement; from the beginning of the 1930s his name appears in the lists of the “donors of the shekel” (the annual membership dues of the World Zionist Organization).

In 1954 the Abitan family immigrated to Israel and settled in Tidhar, a moshav in the northwestern Negev. Because of his fluency in Hebrew he became the secretary of the village and helped new immigrants from Morocco in their dealings with the Jewish Agency and the Moshav Movement. In addition to his administrative tasks he, like all the other new immigrants in the moshav, was also a farmer. He died on August 30, 1960, apparently from cardiac arrest, and was buried in the village.

In 1945 he published a utopian work entitled Osher ha-Adam (Man's Happiness). Two years later he published a second work in the same genre, Binyan ha-ʿOlam u-Veriʾat Adam Ḥadash (Building the World and Creation of a New Man). Both utopias were composed under the influence of the catastrophic events of World War II, out of a desire to shape a brighter future for mankind. Abitan's philosophy is based on the ideas of Maimonides. He maintains that the foundations for “man’s happiness” are enlightenment and knowledge of God. In order to enable the people to learn and gain knowledge a stable government is necessary, one that provides for the people's material needs and ensures their personal safety. According to Abitan stable rule will only be possible under a “world government” and a new world order. The idea of a world government emerged in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century and World War II gave rise to a massive wave, perhaps the largest until then, of publications with plans for such a world government. Abitan was part of this wave.

Abitan’s plan consists of two main parts, principles for the establishment of a “world government:” and a set of universal values for all mankind. He describes the world government’s structure, location, and military policy, a global language, a global currency, and a global flag. Abitan’s “new man” will be required to believe in one God, till the soil, learn a craft, marry, learn to read and write, and maintain personal hygiene.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World
EditorsNorman A. Stillman
Place of PublicationLeiden
ISBN (Electronic)9789004176782
StatePublished - 2018


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