About Isaac Palache
Isaac Pallache, son of Samuel Pallache , settled in Rabat-Salé after 1623 and acted as Dutch consul. Moses Ben ʿAṭṭār, the nagid of Salé, was the primary banker of Mulay Ismāʿīl (r. 1672–1727) and negotiated a treaty with England on his behalf in 1721. In the eighteenth century Jews largely controlled the customs houses in Rabat-Salé, Morocco.
The twin port cities of Rabat (Ar. Ribāṭ, Ribāṭ al-Fatḥ; Mor. Ar. r-Rbāṭ) and Salé (Ar. Salā; Mor. Ar. Slā), on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, lie on the southern and northern banks, respectively, of the Bou Regreg River (Ar. Wādī Abū Raqraq). The area around the Bou Regreg was populated in ancient times, and Muslim historians report that Jews and Christians were living in the region before the advent of Islam. In the twelfth century the Almohad sultan ʿAbd al-Muʾmin and his successors planned to make Rabat their capital city and began construction of extensive walls and an enormous mosque. After the fall of the Almohads, however, Rabat was largely abandoned until the seventeenth century. Meanwhile, Salé prospered under the Marinids, the Wattasids, and the Saʿdis. It gained a reputation as a center of refined urban civilization (ḥaḍāra), along with cities like Fez and Marrakesh. During this period Jews mostly lived in the area known as Bāb al-Ḥusayn. Salé and Rabat were the only Moroccan ports never captured by Christians.
After the expulsion of Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, Salé absorbed fewer refugees than other Moroccan cities, such as Tetouan and Fez. Jacob Toledano, author of Ner ha-Maʿarav, suggests that not many Iberian refugees settled in Salé because of the poor treatment they received at the hands of two “uncircumcised” men, possibly city officials. Nonetheless, by the mid-sixteenth century the megorashim in Salé dominated the toshavim religiously, although Jews in Salé continued to speak Judeo-Arabic.
In the first decade of the seventeenth century, a group of Muslims from the Spanish town of Hornachos took up residence in the present-day Kasbah des Oudayas in Rabat. Shortly thereafter Muslim converts to Christianity (moriscos) who had been expelled from Spain arrived and built the present-day medina of Rabat. Jews from other parts of Morocco subsequently settled in Rabat, where they were concentrated in the Behira quarter.
García-Arenal, Mercedes, and Gerard Wiegers. A Man of Three Worlds: Samuel Pallache, a Moroccan Jew in Catholic and Protestant Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003).