During a phone call with the President of the Moroccan-Israeli Friendship Association (MIFA) in the United States, Mr. Mustapha Ezzarghani, our publication was assured that the article written on October 22, 2022 about Mr. Lahbib Bentalb contained factual inaccuracies.
Mr. Ezzarghani initiated the meeting described in the article, which brought together an Israeli delegation, Mr. Bentalb, and other government officials in Morocco. Contrary to the original account of the interaction, Mr. Ezzarghani clarified that the meeting with Mr. Bentalb was solely professional exchange for all parties involved. He recounted that Mr. Bentalb exhibited an expert-level understanding of the agricultural sector both nationally and internationally. His subject matter expertise was memorable to the delegation. Mr. Ezzarghani also wanted to state that, unlike what was described in the original article, the Bentalb family are a group of highly-educated people who have not benefitted from nepotism to advance their political careers; rather, their political careers are due to their investment in high-quality domestic and international educations, as well as working to persuade voters within the democratic system of Morocco. It is noteworthy that after completing degrees abroad, both children—Fatima Zahra and Othmane—turned down lucrative job opportunities in foreign countries because they wanted to return home and serve their countries. This dedication is rare, especially amongst the upper classes with the level of resources that allow them to easily live abroad, and should be held up as examples for other Moroccan youth contemplating their future careers. To further illustrate how the Bentalb children are qualified to hold their current Parliamentary positions, Mr. Ezzarghani provided the editors of the newspaper with videos from Ms. Fatima Zahra Bentalb’s speeches in the Parliament. Each speech shows her deep understanding of the country’s economy and the needs of the Moroccan population, especially the middle and lower classes. Additionally, he provided us with documents demonstrating the dedication that Mr. Bentalb has shown to working on initiatives and policies benefitting small farmers. These projects are the result of working with diverse coalitions of support, even including members of rival political parties. Mr. Bentalb has a track record of being willing to work with any political entity for the greater good of Morocco in agriculture and in general. In terms of Mr. Bentalb talking about his power to get whoever he wants into the Parliament, Mr. Ezzarghani clarified that the conversation did not happen as originally reported. Anyone familiar with Mr. Bentalb knows that this type of statement does not align with his character. Anyone familiar with the democratic changes that have been made since His Majesty King Mohammed VI assumed the throne will know that this level of nepotism can no longer exist. Based on Mr. Ezzarghani’s testimony and his personal request, the previous article will be retracted.