King Hassan of Morocco
at reception at Plaza Hotel,
NYC March 23, 1995
hosted by Conference of
Presidents of Major Jewish
American Organizations
Photo by Tim Boxer

Guarantor of Peace

KING HASSAN II of Morocco, who died July 24 at age 70, was the only Arab monarch ever to host a reception for Jewish leaders. That took place four years ago when he came to New York, following a visit with President Bill Clinton at the White House.

The Plaza's Terrace Room was turned into a royal court with newly laid luxury rugs. Red and green national bunting were hanging over a red throne for Hassan, king for 38 years, the world's longest reigning leader.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, put me in the receiving line along with Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, former mayor Ed Koch, Leon Levy of American Sephardi Federation, Ruth Popkin of Jewish National Fund, realtor George Klein, Mel Parness of Bnai Zion, and most of the rest of the Jewish establishment.

Presidents Conference chairman Lester Pollack extolled the many virtues of the Arab monarch, especially his efforts to bring peace and economic security to the Middle East. He presented Hassan with a crystal dove in flight and a menorah in the shape of a Tree of Life created by artist Fred Spinowitz.

"War has never ended or solved a problem in the past," the king told his Jewish audience. "The PLO is committed totally to peace. I can guarantee that personally."

After the king retired to his chambers in the hotel, the Jewish leaders joined scores of UN ambassadors and guests at a reception. Former Ambassador Angier Biddle Duke, Kennedy administration aide Arthur Schlesinger Jr., producer Martin Richards and singer Stevie Wonder wandered about the mounds of Moroccan delicacies, desserts, sweet tea and chocolates.


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