Algeria 1962

To the Israelites of Algeria

Source: La Guerre d’Algerie, Mohamed Harbi and Benjamin Stora, 2004, Robert Laffont, Paris;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike)

Few Jewish communities were ever so truly caught between two fires as the Jews of Algeria during the war. Truly Algerian, having been in the country for nearly two millennia, longer than many of the Muslims of the country, they were nevertheless privileged, having been granted French citizenship by the Cremieux decree of 1870. Subject to periodic anti-Semitic campaigns on the part of the Europeans over the years, and deprived of their citizenship during the Vichy years, at the beginning of the war the community was largely left-leaning, with a strong presence in the Algerian Communist Party (most famously the editor of Alger Republicain, Henri Alleg). The OAS killed several Jews (as mentioned in this FLN-ALN tract), but Jews also suffered at the hands of the FLN and the Arabs in general, with cemeteries and synagogues desecrated, rabbis killed, and the popular Arab-Andalusian singer Cheik Raymond, father-in-law of the pop singer Enrico Macia, gunned down. All of this led to the establishing of a Jewish group within the OAS. Despite pleas like this one from the Algerians, as the war was winding down the Jewish community fled en masse, some going to Israel, a handful to Canada, but the overwhelming majority to France.

Algerian Republic
FLN-ALN General Staff

The Algerian problem is at a decisive stage. We want to address this appeal to you, in the face of the hysterical and racist clamor of the fascists who claim to speak in your name, declaring that you are French and that you are all participants in the criminal acts of the backwards colonialists. You know full well that this is both a gratuitous declaration and a policy of mystification that should fool know one, and even less so you, who are Algerians.

The objective of this propaganda flows from a policy that has always strived to increase the numbers of the European minority. This is done with the idea of justifying the war against the Algerian people in order to perpetuate the status quo. Those who compromise you today with their declarations and acts are the very ones who yesterday, under the Vichy government, were the auxiliaries of the Nazis. They made you endure the most inhuman iniquities by despoiling your property, firing you from your jobs and expelling your children from colleges and high schools, etc.

Some among you have perhaps forgotten that era in order to knowingly involve yourselves in the crimes of the colonialists under the pretext of counter-terrorism in Constantine and Algiers. Recently, in Oran, demonstrations provoked by young hotheads in the Israelite neighborhood took place, followed by fires set in stores belonging to Muslims. These acts are the clearest illustration of how some of you attempt to thoughtlessly align yourselves with the racial policies of the ultras. Will you today make yourselves the accomplices of the backwards colonialists by rising up against your Algerian brothers of Muslim origin? We refuse to believe this, because you know the anti-Semitism of the activists and seditionists of Algeria.

You know full well that these groups of fascists are animated by ex-Legionnaires, former Nazis, and a handful of ex-officers beaten in the field by the Armée de Libération Nationale. Do we have to cite the examples of the murders of Dr Cohen and of M. William Levy in Algiers? That of M. Zermati in Setif? This is speaking of only the best known cases. And the plastic bombs of which the Jews of Oran, Algiers, and Constantine were victims? Your silence must cease, and you owe it to yourselves to condemn such demonstrations organized in your neighborhood by the OAS.

Israelite compatriots, many Israelites are active in our ranks. Some among them were interned, others are still in prison for their acts in service to the Algerian cause. Algeria’s independence is near; independent Algeria will need you and tomorrow you will need it, for it is your country. Your Muslim brothers honestly and loyally offer you their hand for solidarity coming from your direction. It is your duty to answer.

Long live free democratic and social Algeria!