Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting

by High Atlas Foundation
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Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting
Multicultural Cooperation for Fruit Tree Planting

Khayzuran was an exceptional and extraordinary woman, who rose from the status of slave to that of queen mother. She was the power behind the throne of three caliphs and had a major, albeit hidden, impact on the politics of the caliphate as well as the private affairs of the court (Adam).  

The name Khayzuran means “bamboo“ and symbolizes “both beauty and suppleness, and also a deceptive fragility“ (Fatéma). Moreover, Khayzuran was known for her diligence and intelligence, and later for being the shadow ruler throughout three reigns.  

Khayzuran was born as a free Muslim in Yemen, and some sources even suggest that she was of Amazigh heritage. She was kidnapped from her home and then sold to become one of the favorite and most influential slaves of Al-Mahdi, the third Abbasid Caliph, who reigned from 775 to his death in 785. 

In former times, the so-called “jaryats” were slave girls and through their roles within the harem acquired a great knowledge of artistic skills and intellectual knowledge by which they could entertain a man. In a time of little social mobility for both men and women, jaryats were able to gain great influence politically but also economically. Some ran their own enterprises, and some rose to high positions at court.

Khayzuran was not the first jarya to have a great influence on a Caliph. The jarya Hababah was brought to the harem of the Caliph Yazid II. When she died choking on a pomegranate seed, the story goes that Yazid was so affected by her death that he refused to see anyone for a week. He neglected his duties and died not long after. His neglect of state affairs caused men to deem Hababah as “an enemy of God and a seductive demon.” However, in other texts, like The Book of Songs by al-Faraj, Hababah was described as a poet, musician and intelligent woman. 

Jaryats like Khayzuran rose to the top of the harem and amassed a great amount of wealth and power, only second to the caliphe, during a period when most women had little power. She had such an influence on him that she was able to convince him to name her sons, al-Hadi and al-Rashid, his heirs and make her his legitimate wife. Khayzuran also ran numerous enterprises and factories. On her pilgrimages to Mecca, she was generous and charitable with the poor, purchased the house of the Prophet (PBUH), turned it into a mosque, and dug drinking water wells. (Adam)

Although she had to exercise her will and power through men (her sons and husband) and could not seize the throne for herself, she remained a fundamental ruling party. There have been other forgotten female forces, for example, Umm al-Muqtadir (the mother of al-Muqtadir), who named her female assistant Thumal the head of justice. At first, the public did not want to acknowledge female authority, but finally they accepted her once she had put an end to corruption in justice and lowered court costs. (Mernissi, Sultanes oubliées)

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It was a pleasure meeting new people from different cultures and religions during Friday's event. 

Firstly, I did not have an idea what I would learn until I discovered that the event's larger purpose was to encourage cooperation between two countries, Morocco and Israel, and two religious peoples, Jewish and Muslims. I was very appreciative of this goal. 

Our trip started traveling from the High Atlas office in Marrakech to Tameslouht. We arrived there and then started by meeting with a mixed group of Moroccans and Israelis.

As usual, we did our introductory presentation, "names, ages, what we all do for a living...", and then we conducted a workshop where each group would write about their idea of the other's religion, both before and after.

For my group's idea, we decided to draw a tree expressing the purity of a human being when they are born and then we wrote words that explain what social media and illiterate people said when we were younger. We then drew a leaf inside the tree and wrote words that describe our relationship now and expressed our feelings.

During this workshop, we discussed and clarified many of the wrong ideas and stereotypes about Jewish and Muslim people, which made us feel that we are more than friends but mostly like sisters and brothers and that in the end, all religion is humanity. 

I want to thank Batel, Ronit, Ester, and Youssef for being my team partners and helpers, and a big thanks to the High Atlas Foundation, especially Dr. Ben-Meir, for these unforgettable efforts to cooperate with our friends".

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Moroccan Jewish people’s material and moral conditions and cultural identity are important as a subject of study at this time given the significant role that Moroccan Jewish heritage plays in the tributaries that form the Moroccan identity.

According to today’s successful cultural development options, the Jewish dimension in Morocco’s history and heritage is at the heart of some cities’ territorial strategies in improving their attractiveness, including the city of Tiznit.

In fact, throughout the Kingdom’s history, the Moroccan Jewish people have been able to cultivate a collective identity, culture, and heritage in intimacy with Muslims within the framework of a shared destiny and future.

Morocco's geographical location, position, political dynamism, and economic attractiveness have made it the home of the convergence of civilizations. Its evolutionary path imprints the features of synergy, coexistence and acculturation between a myriad of religious groups and cultures.

The tolerant spirit that characterized some periods of Morocco's history, made Moroccan Jews even more involved in the politics and economy of the country. Not only that, they also had a distinguished presence in public life. They promoted notable cultural and intellectual Moroccan traditions, making the Kingdom a model to follow by nationstates in the region. Thanks to this harmony, the Moroccan Jewish model is cherished in the system of Jewish thought in general. And, this denies the claim of the absence of the Jewish groups from Morocco’s world of thought.

Efforts to dust off this multi-disciplined Jewish contribution have been relatively modest considering the richness of material available in collective memories and popular culture. The sustainability of Moroccan Jewish people’s experiences and skills in business, crafts, and trade is being valued and studied, causing a revival of culturally significant crafts and sites.

Based on the foregoing, a group of local researchers and experts conducted a scientific symposium in Tiznit due to its history as a stronghold of lively Jewish community since the end of the 19th century, investigating the topic as follows:

  • Highlighting selections from the history of the Jewish people in Souss by presenting cases and models of jurisprudential calamities between Jewish people and Muslims in order to study and document the historical structure that created the conditions for involvement of Moroccan Jewish people in the world of thought and culture
  • Looking at aspects of the social history of Jewish people in Oued Noun—Guelmim and Yefren—to demonstrate manifestations of cultural continuity and renewal as seen through similarities in traditional women’s outfits, jewelry making, and cultural celebrations (i.e., weddings, circumcisions) between Jewish people and Muslims
  • Examining the manifestations and idiosyncrasies of Moroccan Jewish cultural heritage and its approximation to current generations through local Jewish literacy (A Boy from Ifrane by Judeo-Moroccan novelist Asher and excerpts from a paper on Jewish funeral rites).
  • Reuniting researchers in the field of Moroccan Jewish studies, and putting together updated documents on the developments related to this field of specialization by making recommendations and sharing upcoming publication titles.

This article was completed with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Dakira Program, and the High Atlas Foundation is solely responsible for its content, which does not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID or the Government of the United States.

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On February 2, I attended the 2022 ECOSOC Partnership Forum on behalf of the High Atlas Foundation,  along with HAF President Ben-Meir. The theme was “Building Back Better from the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) While Advancing the Full Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” and it covered a variety of strategies for achieving this goal. These strategies include an emphasis on collaboration through partnerships, an increase in multilateralism, a better understanding of the importance of multi-stakeholders, and a priority in ensuring that everyone’s voice can be heard. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the aggressive goals in the 2030 Agenda even more difficult to achieve. However, the common theme throughout the forum was that if there is effective collaboration between all stakeholders, whether it be through the United Nations, businesses, non-profit foundations, or academia, sustainable change is possible. It is important to understand that every stakeholder is part of the journey to reach the goals of the 2030 Agenda.

One goal that the ECOSOC Partnership Forum highlighted is the importance of bridging the digitalization gap. During the event “Bridging the Gap: Addressing the Vacuum in Multilateral Governance of Digital Technology to Close the Digital Divide and Support Efforts to Leave No One Behind,” Ms. Wardarina, Dr. Clovis, Ms. Vogliano, Mr. Parminder, and Ms. Ruth discussed what is causing the digitalization gap and potential solutions for it. The issue with digitalization is that the technological wave hits developing countries in bits. Because this industry develops so rapidly, it is hard for developing countries to catch up. This part of the forum highlighted potential solutions for this divide. The experts suggested that the world should strive to make technological changes more inclusive and increase the responsiveness of multilateralism in the technological sphere. Multilateralism has the potential to increase digital equality and ensure that everyone has proper access to the digital world.

More ideas were discussed during a second event,“Building Back Better from the Bottom Up: Collaboration with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises for SDG Implementation”, which featured experts Ms. Akustina, Dr. Farid, Ms. Patricia, and Dr. Chantal. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were hit hard by the pandemic, specifically those that are women-operated. In order to help SMEs increase their resilience, the government must be supportive. There must be a place for SMEs to be able to voice their struggles and have solutions readily available for them. One way in which governments can help SMEs is to lower the taxes imposed on them and to offer developmental services.

“Partnerships, UN Reform and a New Multilateralism to Build Forward Better,” another event hosted by Daniel , Patti , Nudhara, and Grant, discussed the importance of creating new solutions for increasing sustainable development. In order for these solutions to work, every entity must be involved and engaged. It is also important that everybody has a seat at the table in order to offer a diverse set of ideas and support better informed decision-making. This way, many solutions can be formulated from multiple perspectives.

During the event “Financing for the SDGs in the Era of COVID-19,” Mr. Navid , Mr. Adedeji , H.E. Ms. Charlotta , Ms. Romina, Ms. Harpinder , H.E. Mr. Walton, and Ms. Aish discussed the importance of developing a framework to meet the 2030 Agenda after COVID-19 proved to be a major setback. This is especially the case in smaller countries where there is greater dependence on imports. The speakers noted that in order to overcome this obstacle, debt relief will be a critical factor and structural reforms must also be made.

The High Atlas Foundation has been and will continue to be a driving force that will help the United Nations achieve the SDGs for the 2030 Agenda, as they are increasing sustainable development in the non-profit sector. For each tree that the foundation plants, they will help create a cleaner environment, craft more opportunities for women in Morocco, develop stronger  inter-religious partnerships, and establish a bright future for the youth. The High Atlas Foundation will help to ensure that COVID-19 does not stop sustainable development.

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On 5 January 2022, the Farmer to Farmer (F2F) team organized a trip to the Demnate municipality in the Beni Mellal-Khenifra region to follow-up with a host organization called “Laymouna Cooperative.”

The team and a representative of Laymouna Coop visited the Jewish Cemetery—Haroun Saint—where High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and the community will grow a tree nursery in order to follow up on the recommendations from O-H-16 and O-H-17.

The co-op members participated in a training conducted by a F2F volunteer to help them develop a comprehensive design, material, and implementation assessment for the upcoming tree nursery project, which will benefit farmers and schools in the region.

After the training workshops provided by the local volunteer, the host organizations’ members are now able to do planting, transplanting, irrigating, and weeding. The volunteer devolved a  tree nursery budget for Laymouna Cooperative, and trained them on growing fruit trees in the greenhouse, as he prepared a design of the nursery and marked the place for the water source.

The members of the coop seemed to have started building a fence on one of the cemetery sides, and this will protect the tree nursery area, as some local farmers changed the way of irrigation from the traditional one to drip irrigation.

The members adopted the recommendations from the F2F assignments, which were to register the HO as an official agricultural cooperative and give roles to the members. Currently, they are focused on developping a project proposal to seize opportunities as the budget for the tree nursery is ready.

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High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AtlasHigh
Project Leader:
Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
New York City and Marrakech, Morocco
$15,910 raised of $28,000 goal
306 donations
$12,090 to go
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