Part Three: The Dawn of Modern Times
From Orient to Occident

1705-July 25,1957: Husseinite Dynasty
1789 French Revolution. Industrial Revolution. Imperialism
1790-1791 French Jews given citizenship
1830 French occupation of Algeria
1830 Tunisia in effect autonomous under beys of Husaynid dynasty
Nov. 3, 1839 promulgation by Sultan Abd al-Majid I of the Khatti Sherif
1846 Italian Jews in Tunisia granted the right to retain their original citizenship indefinitely
June 24, 1857 Batto Sfez, Tunisian Jew, executed for blasphemy against Islam
Sept. 9, 1857 Mohammed Bey promulgated the so-called 'Fundamental Pact'
1860 Alliance Israelite Universelle -AIU- founded in Paris
April 21,1861 Sadok Bey gave kind of constitution, ended discrimination against the Jews
1864 Tunisian revolt. Arabs attacked Jews with red chechya
1875 Jew murdered. British consul intervened. Moslem murderer executed.
1878 1st modern school in Tunis established by the Alliance Israelite Universelle -AIU
1881 Start of mass migrations of eastern European Jews
1881-1956: French Protectorate (established 12 May 1881)
1894 Captain Dreyfus, Jewish officer, convicted by French 3rd Republic
1896 Theodore Herzl publishes The Jewish State (Zionism)
1897 First Jewish Zionist congress, called by Theodor Herzl
1903 Protocols of the Elders of Zion, 1st published in Russia, in Germany in 1919 &
widely believed, in France & the US by Henry Ford in 1920, and in Britain in 1921
1909 Founding of Tel Aviv as Hebrew speaking Jewish city
1914-1918 World War I
1917 Balfour Declaration favors Jewish Palestinian State
1933 Adolph Hitler becomes Chancellor
of Germany

The 19th century & the impact of the West

Norman Stillman (NS)2.3. July 1798, Napoleon in Egypt; path to direct European intervention paved by expanding European commercial interests & by concessions of extraterritoral rights for foreign nationals & their proteges in the Middle East under agreements known as capitulations. Impact of ascendant Europe in North Africa, is synonymous with modernization. All peoples affected & transformed by it & non-Muslim minorities among the first.
NS95-8: Muslim world & all its people underwent a veritable metamorphosis during the 19th century. profound transformation was both social & political, undermining many of traditional foundations. Causes for change both internal & external, but prime factor was impact of an ascendant Europe upon the economic, political & cultural life of the Islamic world.

NS2.8. First formal move toward improving the legal position of non-Muslims in Ottoman E. was promulgation by Sultan Abd al-Majid I of the Khatti Sherif on Nov. 3, 1839: enumerations of reforms affecting individual subjects; echoed ideals of French Declaration of the Rights of Man 50 yrs earlier. Most significant aspect of decree as far as dhimmi concerned was that it granted civil equality to non-Muslims.

In Arab provinces decree almost unnoticed, little practical effect. Many of the local pashas and beys were feudal lords in their satrapies. New reform decree in 1856. New edict called for reorganization of the religious communities on a national basis. creation of millet system: each individual non-Muslim religious community in its entirely became an officially recognized autonomous body whose members were represented to the state thru designated communal leaders.

Condition of the Jews in the 19th Century

Andre Chouraqui (AC)113-4: Between the 17th & 19th centuries, North Africa (NA) cut off from Christian Europe. Attempts by Portugal & Spain to occupy coast of Morocco, Algeria & Tunisia ended in failure.
Jews of Maghreb maintained closer links with outside world: influence of arrivals from Spain & Italy and the bonds that these still maintained with their coreligionists in their former homes; there was, especially from the 16 to the 19th c., the continuous connection with the talmudical schools of Palestine & Jewish communities throughout the world which was maintained by the Haham Kollel.

Jews came increasingly to resent the restrictions & discriminations imposed upon them by states that were characterized by the worst features of feudalism, & by a population that subjected them to indignity and suppression. ac97. One mark of new civil equality for non-Muslims was abolition of the jizya understood as symbol of dhimmi humiliation. In Tunisia and Algeria, the jizya/karaj practice was eliminated during the 19th c.1

Mitchell Bard (MB). In Morocco, which contained the largest Jewish community in the Islamic Diaspora, Jews were made to walk barefoot or wear shoes of straw when outside the ghetto. Even Muslim children participated in the degradation of Jews, by throwing stones at them or harassing them in other ways. The frequency of anti-Jewish violence increased (often inspired by religious reformers), and many Jews were executed on charges of apostasy. Ritual murder accusations against the Jews became commonplace in the Ottoman Empire.(10)

MB: The situation of Jews in Arab lands reached a low point in the 19th century.
As the 19th c. began, vast majority of ME & NA Jewry, like the vast majority of the general populace, was poor. In addition to their poverty, however, Jews had to bear the burden of social isolation, inferiority, and general opprobrium. Over the preceding 4 centuries, they had become increasingly confined into overcrowded ghetto like quarters, called thru Muslim world, Mellah, Harat al-Yahud.

*By the 19th c. most Jews lived in squalor in the sprawling ghettos of Tunisian cities.
ACp.48: By end of the 12 th centuries of Moslem rule, the mellah of Morocco, the haras of Tunisia & the Jewish quarters in Algeria -ghettos of NA- had reached a state of indescribable misery & squalor.
ps112. Most Jews in Tunis: 20,000, in Hara. small streets. doors closed at 10 pm, opened at 5 am. overpopulated led to illness, cholera. Other centers. abt 25,000-30,000 Jews in Tunisia.

Eyewitness Accounts

NS2.5. European travelers of the 18th & 19th c. were unanimous in their reports of the overall debasement of the Jews living in the Islamic lands.
ac114. European travelers, merchants, diplomats all agreed in their descriptions of the misery that was the lot of the Jews under their Moslem “protectors.” (Jews suffered frightful oppression & degradation ... even children run after them ... a fearful mixture of debasement, oppression, outrage ... massacre ... synagogue desecrated. There is no abuse to which they are not subjected). Extracts from some of these eyewitness accounts explain the welcome that the Jews of the Maghreb extended to the French forces who were to establish peace & justice in NA.

Tunisia Before the Protectorate

AC158: Throughout its history, Tunisia, at junction of international land & sea routes, had been more exposed than either Algeria or Morocco to foreign influence, European as well as Turkish.
ac137-8. Before advent of French, beginnings of change in degree of subjugation of the Jews could be discerned. In towns of north, especially in Tunisia, where European influences had penetrated & protection was extended by foreign consuls the Jews enjoyed wider liberties relative to conditions elsewhere. At end 19th c. Jews of Meknes could own houses, allowed to visit Moslem city without being forced to walk barefoot.

Arrival of French
in NA marked beginning of the Maghreb’s emergence from its isolation. for Jews, it signified end of 2nd class status & commencement of the movement of emancipation.
At the time of the French invasion of Algeria, Tunisia was a province of the Ottoman Empire but, in effect, autonomous under the Husaynid dynasty. This dynasty, consisting of Mamluk (Caucasian or Oriental slaves in Muslim countries) and Turkish officials known as beys, controlled Tunisia beginning in 1705, pledging allegiance to the Ottoman Sultan. The Husaynids became an integral part of the Tunisian milieu through intermarriage and acculturation.

Paul Sebag (PS)109. Although French protectorate established in 1881, French occupation of Algeria in 1830 exerted a profound influence on Tunisia’s rulers & on life of Jews there. 1830 Algeria conquest opened new period in history of Tunisia.
RA. In the 19th c., Tunisia opened increasingly to European influences. Beys started reform
Ahmed Bey and his successors implemented liberal legislation, and a large number of Jews rose to positions of political power during this reign.

Ahmed Bey, 1835-55

ML: Of the various beys between 1705 and 1957 (end of Husaynids dynasty), Ahmed Bey was an avowed Westernizer.
AC158: Ahmed Bey, intelligent ruler; to emancipate himself from Ottoman control.
He brought western advisers, mainly French, to help create a modern army and navy and related industries. ... Influenced by the French Revolution, Ahmed Bey abolished slavery and took steps intended to bring Tunisia more in line with Europe, but he also exposed his country to Europe’s infinitely greater economic and political power.

ac158. ... turning point in evolution of Tunisia, & during his 18-years reign the Jews had a foretaste of the security & freedom that they were to enjoy under the Protectorate. Improvements in the condition of the community occurred his reign.
ac158. In his service were Jewish administrators, physicians & officials whose influence secured their coreligionists a tranquility which was the envy of the Jews of Algeria & Morocco.

Robert Attal (RA). An agreement between him and the governor of Tuscany, signed in 1846, granted the Italian Jews in Tunisia the right to retain their original citizenship indefinitely. This possibility encouraged many Jews of Livorno to move to Tunisia. These Jews were protected by the Tuscan consul; lived in European districts. But the vast majority of Tunisian Jews remained subjects of the Bey, who had conferred a protected status upon them.

*ps116. In middle 19th c., 1850, condition of Jews same as in 17 & 18th c. Besides citizens of foreign countries, Jews were still subjected to what Islam reserved for its “protected” people, ahl al-dimma. Price for tolerance special tax: jezya by all young Jewish male; also special contributions and the caid must collect the amount fixed by bey. Jewish artisans must work for the Bey.

Many discriminations in costume; no red chechya or white turbans, or bright shoes. Jews must wear a black calotte, around it, black or dark blue turban; black shoes. lived in closed quarters. no real estate. violence. punished if appearing as offending Islam.

Mohammed Bey, 1855-59

NS98. Reforms in the civil status of non-Muslims were introduced in the wake of the Turkish Tanzimat in Tunisia, which was an autonomous tributary state of the Ottoman E., by his successor, his cousin, Mohammed Bey.

NS101: Great irony that during the 19th c. physical security of Jews & property precarious. ... Jewish account of abuse & oppression ... anti-Jewish tone.
NS103-4: Jews -& Christians- in Muslim world were especially vulnerable to accusations that they had blasphemed Muhammed, whenever they had a falling out with a Muslim or tried to collect a bad debt.

Trial of Batto Sfez & its Consequences

ac159. Progress, however, accompanied by reaction. Nov. 15, 1856, the Bey issued a decree to set up a tribunal “to promulgate the law & to regulate religious affairs.” This commission had to judge Samuel Batto Sfez, a Tunisian drunken Jewish drayman -worked for Nessim Samama who was financial director and caid of the Jews, who had been accused by a Moslem of the traditional charge of uttering blasphemies against Islam. Started with quarrel with Moslem in traffic jam; suddenly the Moslem shout and accused that the Jew of insulting the religion of the Prophet/Mohammed. This incite inflamed mob. Police come and arrest Batou, and put him in jail; witnesses -with legal deposition- stated the blasphemy of Batou.

The matter was brought to the Bey, who could just inflict a harsh punishment. But Bey decided to let the Shara’a court to deal with the matter, despite the fact that Batou protested his innocence. found guilty. oath of Jew invalid against that of a Moslem in Moslem court, the accused was liable to receive the death penalty. In general, effort made to settle such disputes in less extreme manner, but not so in the case of Batto Sfez who was condemned to death by tribunal. Even protection of foreign powers of no avail; neither were the monies paid to judges, accusers. The innocent Batto Sfez was decapitated June 24, 1857 - despite intervention of European consular in Tunis.

Passion ran high. The collective memory commemorated this drama with a famous qinah in Judeo-Arab, 3 versions, printed at end 19th c. French & British officials demanded reforms from the Bey. Jews & Christians sent a joint delegation to Napoleon III to present him with the case & to request French protection for the non-Moslems who no longer felt safe in Tunisia. Arrival of a strong French naval squadron at the port of La Goulette caused the Bey to return to his earlier devotion of liberal ideas. Sept. 9, 1857: he promulgated the so-called 'Fundamental Pact' a document which brought a revolution in the classical concept of traditional Moslem law:
(NS98.2/12: Mohammed Bey, under pressure from European consuls issued a decree in 1857 that reflected the spirit of the Khatt-i Sherif and the Khatt-i Humayun. The Ahd al-Aman (Covenant of Security) proclaimed among other things, the equality of Tunisian Jews (no Christians) with Muslims before the law & guaranteed their persons, property, & their honor)

Sept. 9, 1857: The Fundamental Pact & its Repercussions - Toward equality

ac161. The F.Pact consisted of 8 articles. One formally guaranteed full security for all the Bey’s subjects, without distinction of race, nationality or religion - gave equality under the law to non-Muslims; this security was to extend to the person, the property & the dignity of his subjects. restatement of ancient rights of dhimmis with difference that non-discrimination was to be made between Moslems & non-Moslems.

made Jews subject to same fiscal laws as Moslems. 1858: Jews could wear red chechya. still dark blue turban. yes real estate. move outside hara. end jezya in 1856.
NA2/13. Many outward improvements in the condition of Tunisian Jewry remained intact; it didn’t abolish discriminatory taxation. Traditional discriminatory dress code, ghiyar, not reimposed, nor was corvee labor (abolished the corvee duty to Jews subjected under the old laws for dhimmis). Economic inequalities with regard to tariffs not reinstituted. overall impact of setback in civil rights alleviated by the ready availability of foreign protection for Tunisian Jews as the rival European powers, England, France & Italy, vied to assist local Jews & at the same time gain greater influence in Tunisian internal affairs.

Tunisian decree didn’t go as far as the Turkish reforms, & its language was more traditionally Islamic. Even so, it still stirred up a considerable degree of popular resentment. April 21,1861: Sadok Bey gave kind of constitution, making the country a parliamentary kingdom. The new laws ended all discriminatory measures against the Jews and granted them the same rights and duties as the Moslems.

Reforms constituted burden on national treasury; rulers forced to raise taxes, angering the masses. Masses not prepared to accept the revolutionary concepts of the Pact. discontent. 1859: Mohammed Bey swore to maintain the FP. But it was swept away by Tunisian revolt of 1864. Arabs attacked Jews with red chechya; looted houses and Jewish shops in Nabeul, Sousse, Sfax & Djerba.

Some ravages in the aftermath of that 1864 revolt are described among eyewitness reports.[205] One witness wrote:

Another disaster to report! Muslim fanaticism ... unleashed against our brethren on the
island of Djerba.... Arab tribes ... turned upon ... the Jewish Quarters, which they
sacked, destroying everything .... [On] Yom Kippur ... synagogues profaned and defiled.
The Scrolls ... torn in pieces and burnt ... men injured and trampled ... all the women
and girls raped .... My pen refuses to set down the terrifying ... atrocities ... in all [their]
horror .... The governor of the island refused to intervene to reestablish order; ... the
pillage did not cease for 5 days and nights ....[206]

An outraged writer bitterly assailed the government's "protection":
Eighteen Jews have already fallen in a few months to the knives of fanatical [Muslim]
murderers; and His Highness's Government, far from punishing the guilty, protects
and apparently encourages them.

The Government's conduct toward us is machiavellian beyond words. We are not
directly persecuted but such is the scornful treatment we receive, when we ask for
justice from the Bey or his ministers, that open persecution would be a hundred times
better. Acknowledged persecution however, would expose the executioner and his
victim to the world, and the Tunisian Government wishes to appear impartial whilst
masking killers surreptitiously. * ... We do not seek an eye for an eye, blood for blood,
but that the guilty should be . . . legally condemned.[208]

A Jew from Tunis protested assassinations in a neighboring community:
Nabel is a town of fanatics, and we must unfortunately record six other murders of our
co-religionists, the perpetrators of which have not been punished .... [209]

The violence spread in 1869 to the city of Tunis, where Muslims butchered many Jews in the
defenseless ghetto.

NS106-7: Modern post-Enlightenment antisemitism seems to have made very little headway in the Arab world during the 19th. ... The vast majority of Muslim Arabs did not perceive the Jews as an economic or political threat. This would come in the 20th c. with the confrontation of opposing Jewish & Arab nationalism.

Bey borrowed money from France.
RA. Tunisia’s growing debts served as a pretext for the increasing intervention of France, England and Italy, which began in the 1870s.

Patent of Protection

ac.159. insecurity felt by Jews who placed themselves under protection of European diplomatic missions. 1875: Jew murdered. British consul intervened. Moslem murderer executed.
RA.NS95; 2.6. The small Tunisian Jew, dhimmi mercantile elite had for centuries maintained close ties with European economic interest in the Islamic world; used his established commercial ties and obtained letters of protection to come under the consular jurisdiction of the protecting country. Thus they avoided the arbitrariness that was a regular feature of the local government.

Dhimmi eagerly sought the protection of European powers through the latter’s consular agents, who, under the capitulations, had extraterritorial authority in the Ottoman Empire, Tunisia, and other Islamic states.
ac164. Some 100s of Tunisian Jews were under Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Belgian and other protection -Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Netherlands, Denmark, Russia and Greece.

Dhimmi merchants who were able to travel to British India, French Algeria, or Europe frequently returned home as naturalized foreign subjects, safely removed from the confines of the legal system of their native land
NS96. For their part, European powers openly espoused the cause of non-Muslims, Christians; motivated by moral sentiment & blatant imperialistic designs.
ps130. As for the great masses of Tunisian Jews, subjects of the Bey, they felt great sympathy for the diverse European nations, that, by defending/protecting their “foreign” or “protected” brothers, appeared to them as the protectors of all the Jews.

NS2/18. Various changes in civil status & community structure of Jews living in Arab world during 19th c. accompanied by socioeconomic & cultural transformations as well.
NS2.18. NS95. No native group in the 19th c. benefited more from European interference into the Middle Eastern affairs than did the dhimmi. They quickly saw that increased European influence & penetration meant a weakening of the traditional Islamic norms of society, and hence could only better their own position. Dhimmi accepted westernization earlier & with greater ease than did Muslims.

RA. European influence was also felt on the cultural level.
NS2/19-20. As 19th th c. progressed, many Arabic-speaking Jews consider knowledge of western language as requisite entry ticket into modern world with all benefits it might confer. Jews received linguistic ed. from missionaries who were the earliest disseminators of modern ed. among Jews of Arab world.


RA. ps127. In Tunisia, many middle-class Jewish families sent their children to Christian modern schools founded in 19th c. by missionaries, in Tunis and in coastal cities. In 1831, a Livornese Jew and his sister opened the 1st modern school in Tunis.
AC204. Before creation of the Alliance Israelite Universelle in 1860, the 1st French school open to Jews in Tunisia, started in Tunis in 1854 by Christian Abbe Bourgade.
Catholic teaching orders & English Protestant missionaries opened schools in the hara. In 1855, The London Society for promoting Christianity amongst Jews, opened a boys primary school in Tunis. Then, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition opened schools for girls in Tunis, La Goulette, Sousse, Sfax and Djerba. Some schools were free. This helped create air of amity between Christians & Jews; no memories of Christian persecution to affect these relations, & Jews of Maghreb more receptive to new influences from Christian Europe.

RA. The Italian community, with the Italian government, founded a college (secondary school) for boys and one for girls in Tunis. The Livornese Jews were the first to send their children to these schools. So, during the 19th c., girls & boys, by learning an European language -Italian or French, got a primary education; some went to secondary school, allowing them to study at European universities. By early 1890, 400 Jewish pupils in English missionary schools in Tunis. inefficacy of Christian propaganda.
Those were an elite; majority only went to talmud-torah or yeshivot.

Alliance Israelite Universelle

NS100-1: Other forces were at work to improve the condition of the Jews of Tunisia and other Arab lands - most notably the newly formed Alliance Israelite Universelle (AIU). The AIU had been created by French Jews in Paris in May 1860 (Adolphe Cremieux, new Minister of Justice of the 2nd French Republic), in reaction to blood libel in Damascus in 1840, and the Mortara affair in 1858. It was the 1st international Jewish organization of its kind. Its goals “to work everywhere for the emancipation and moral progress of Jews; to lend effective assistance to those who suffer because of their being Jews” -to struggle for Jewish political rights and work toward Jewish educational modernization worldwide, especially in the Ottoman Empire, the Balkans, and Morocco.
Alliance sought to carry its program thru diplomatic and educational activities; it was in the latter sphere that it was most effective in achieving “l’emancipation par l’instruction.” The major focus of its educational endeavors was in the Ottoman E. and in North Africa.

ac. As early as 1862, the Alliance Israelite Universelle (AIU), together with the Anglo-Jewish Committee, took 1st step toward improving Jewish education in Maghreb; 1st modern Alliance school for Jewish children opened in Morocco in Tetouan in 1862; its curriculum combined religious & modern secular instruction in Hebrew, French & language of country. 1867: Mikveh Israel Agricultural School near Jaffa. Educational activities of the Alliance to become a significant factor in evolution of NA Jewry during period of French influence.

ac164-5. In 1863: committee of AIU set up in Tunisia, affiliated with central committee of Alliance in Paris. Educational work of AIU had a more lasting effect on development of Tunisia’s Jews than the much hailed Fundamental Pact. AIU effectively intervened against official discrimination against Jews. In 1877, it succeeded in having an order given to the Governor of Tunis that the bastinado was no longer to be administered to Jews though all sections of the population were submitted to it. When a third of the Jewish community of Tunisia fell victim to the epidemics and famine that swept the country in 1866, 1867, and 1868, funds were raised for them throughout Europe through the AIU and the Board of Deputies of British Jews in London.

ps128. New era in education opened in 1878, the AIU (& the Anglo-Jewish Association) founded its first school in Tunis, teaching Hebrew & Jewish education, and French language & all the disciplines in the program of French primary schools. In the 1st year there were more than 1000 pupils -700 from the Tunisian talmud-torah, 125 from the Livornese talmud-torah, and 150 others. Thus French language will spread among the Jewish masses, introducing new ideas; a process of cultural change began among Jews that would expand during the French Protectorate, established on May 12, 1881 by the treaty of Bardo.
NS2/25-26. By the end of the century, Alliance elementary & secondary schools had been established in most of the major towns that had Jewish communities, from Morocco to Iran -100 schools.

The 20th Century

Michael Laskier (ML). Introduction

In this essay, the 20th century consists of 2 main periods: 1900-48/49 and 1949-92. Retrospectively, the 1900-48/49 period marked a crucial turning point in Jewish North Africa with the formation of Zionist clubs and associations across the urban milieu, organizations out of which there emerged a Zionist leadership elite. Culminating with the birth of Israel, this period also witnessed political and socioeconomic transformations that laid the foundations for the eventual Jewish exodus from North Africa. Yet as late as 1947-48, and despite the emergence of radical nationalism among the Muslims, the struggle for independence had not yet gained momentum. Though Jewish emigration to Israel, especially from Morocco, intensified during 1948, important segments of the urban Jewish populations, in Tunisia and Algeria still entertained hopes that France would not relinquish control of her colonial possessions and would neutralize Muslim nationalist ferment.’2

The French Protectorate, 1881-1956

ML: Tunisia bankrupt in 1869... the French, on pretext that some Tunisian tribesmen had moved into Algerian territory, landed troops in Tunisia & established a Protectorate over the country.
The Convention of Marsa, 1881, did not call for outright conquest as was the case in Algeria. The bey remained in theory an absolute monarch, 2 ministers were still appointed, and the framework of the old government machinery was preserved. ... Arabic remained an official language. Nevertheless, the supreme authority passed in fact into the hands of the French resident-general and his functionaries. ...
19th century Tunisia offered somewhat more favorable prospects for self-sustained reformation than did its neighbors. With about one and a half million inhabitants in 1881 ... Tunisia was the weakest, most ‘colonizable,’ and the least pluralistic of the 3 countries. ... Half of its population was sedentary ... tribal dissidence in Tunisia was not as intense as in Algeria and Morocco.3

French troops occupied Tunisia in 1881 and made it a protectorate in 1883. .
AC165: French protectorate was established following the signature of the Treaty of Bardo on May 12, 1881. For the Jews, it served to confirm & safeguard through the French presence the existing liberal tendencies which had characterized the Regency since the reign of Ahmed Bey.
AC: ... The invader was France with its message of liberty for the prisoners of the hara, equality for the “second class” citizens of the Maghreb, and fraternity for those whom the Law of Islam had condemned to humiliation.

* Dignity, equality, naturalization.
RA. The Jews welcomed the Protectorate. They were convinced that their situation would improve under the active protection of the 1st nation that had granted equal rights to the Jews.
The colonial rule by secular and democratic France introduced the concepts of equality, modernization, emancipation and economic progress in Tunisia. With its gospel of Liberte, Egalite et Fraternite, France raised the Jews from their condition of inferiority as dhimmi (proteges of the Muslim ruler), which had been their lot under the domination of Islam. A 1923 law made it easier to Jews to become French citizens; by 1956 a 1/3 were French.

*Social Transformations

By and large the Jews benefited from the French presence. Under French rule, Jews were gradually emancipated. The first part of this essay deals with the formation of an Occidental Jewish identity within the “strategy” of sociopolitical and cultural assimilation during the French Protectorate era.

1. Nationality & Jurisdiction

Colonial policies affecting Jews, particularly French policies, differed from one county to another.

MB: By the 20th century, the status of the dhimmi in Muslim lands had not significantly improved. H.E.W. Young, British Vice Consul in Mosul, wrote in 1909:
The attitude of the Muslims toward the Christians and the Jews is that of a master towards slaves, whom he treats with a certain lordly tolerance so long as they keep their place. Any sign of pretension to equality is promptly repressed.(11)

Though Tunisia became a French protectorate in 1881, the legal status of Tunisia’s Jews did not change much until after World War I when France began to grant French citizenship to some Tunisian Jews, mostly members of a small Jewish elite who were assimilating to French culture quite quickly.

Jews remained subjects of the Bey & continued to have their own separate community organizations. Since the basic theocratic nature of the Moslem state & its religious laws was maintained, the Jews continued to be judged in all matters of personal status, as well s in all civil & commercial disputes between Jews, in the rabbinical courts. 1898 & 922 law & beylic decree reshaped the rabbinical court.

Since the inequality inherent in the Moslem Statute persisted, Jews felt to be living on the fringes of both European & Moslem society, excluded from public life. Now they wished French nationality. Public campaign to this effect.
Jews wished to be judged in French court rather than Tunisian or Jewish ones.
Decree of 1910 made it possible for the 1st time for a person to renounce his allegiance to the Bey & accept French nationality.

Political Status under the Colonial System

Decree of Bey in 1921 prepared way for law of 1923 which eased the conditions & the formalities required for acquisition of French nationality. Between 1911 & 1923, 299 Jews had acquired French nationality under the 1910 decree.
It was in 1923, under the French Protectorate, that the Morinaud Law enabled Jews to get French citizenship on an individual basis only.4
In 5 yr-period, 1924-1928, 4,126 Jews were naturalized. Another 2,334 naturalized in next 5 years. From 1934-1938, only 180 Jews naturalized; next 5 yrs: 147 Jews. Altogether, 7,311 Jews were naturalized between 1911 & end of Protectorate. These, with their descendants made up one-third of the Jewish population of Tunisia, & until 1956, community divided into 3 groups: the French naturalized, foreign & those subjects of Bey.

ML. In Tunisia, the Jewish population fell into 3 categories: Tunisian, French, and foreign. Until 1956, three-quarters of the Jews belonged to the 1st category; most of the remainder were French
(some were Italian). Tunisian nationality had been defined in the basic treaty of 10 September 1857, and in the Tunisian constitution of 26 April 1861. The treaty provided ... that Tunisian subjects of the Beylicate (the Husaynide dynasty) be permitted to practice their religious rites, and that ... no distinction be made between Tunisian Muslims and Tunisian Jews. The constitution also provided for permanent allegiance to the Regency. ... provision that a Tunisian could become a citizen of France upon individual application.
ES. The Jews benefited from the new rule in many areas.

2. The Politics of Education in the Colonial Era. AIU

ML. French cultural and educational influence in NA intensified following the French conquest of Algeria and the establishment of French Protectorates in Tunisia and Morocco. Alongside the French public school system which was, in the case of Algeria & Tunisia, increasingly attended by Jewish youths, the schools of the Alliance Israelite Universelle (AIU hereafter) made serious inroads into several important communities.
The AIU educational institutions -both primary and secondary schools- offered French/European alongside traditional Jewish curricula. Its schools in Tunisia predated the Protectorate era, for they had existed in Tunis since 1878. However, the penetration of AIU educational influence there was made possible by the efforts of local French consuls and charges d’affaires.

AC204. Modern secular education played decisive role in the mass evolution of NA Jewry. In the new schools Jews assimilated ideas & customs that France introduced; they learned French, their passport to a new civilization. Rabbis put little resistance to new requirements of secular instruction. French govt. & French Jewish org. facilitated rapid transition of the native population from their medieval way of life to 19th & 20th century conditions.

AC209. 1883: AIU schools in Beja, Mahdia & Sousse; 1,025 pupils. 1882: school for girls. resistance by Jews in south: Gabes & Djerba; 1895 agricultural school in Djedeida.

Protectorate in 1882 accelerated pace of emancipation for Jews. 1883: given right to attend the public schools of the Protectorate.
ML. By 1910 the AIU network in Tunisia extended into the cities of Sfax and Sousse, but not to Jerba and other small communities of the south where opposition to modernization was strongly manifested. ... 1889: govt subsidized work of AIU.

ML28. French & other European diplomatic emissaries in Tunisia & Morocco saw the AIU as an instrument for modernizing the Jews. Europeans considered the Jews, more than the Muslims, as a potentially progressive element in the population who could serve European interests in the precolonial period.

AC209. The combined efforts of the government and the Alliance showed rapid results in education of Tunisian Jews: in 1915: 9,000 Jewish children attended schools; 1945: 14,000. At all times the number of girl pupils was equal to that of boys. In 1951, 2/3 of the Jewish school children attended French primary schools which included the schools of the Alliance; over 1,000 in secondary schools and 105 were receiving a university education. These figures do not include those who went to France or Algeria for higher education. There were also some 1,350 Jewish pupils in Franco-Arab primary schools, private primary schools, private and government trade schools and in private establishments for higher education.

ML28. Over the years, Jews benefited from these schools, which after 1945-46 were supplemented by American/Jewish-sponsored modernized Sephardi religious schools known as Or ha-Torah, the vocational schools of the ORT network, the Lubavitch institutions, and Protectorate-sponsored schools. Tunisian Jews could choose between both AIU & Protectorate schools. Though many remained poor as late as the 1960s, an elite of white-collar professionals, a modernized stratum of artisans, and, in general, educated and semi-educated elements who spoke, read, and wrote French - emerged in Tunisia and Morocco.
In 1950 2 new ORT school opened for teaching manual skills to Jewish youths.

AC210. Jewish education, as such, was more widespread in Tunisia than in Algeria; Alliance network of schools had well over 3,000 pupils in 1954. The fact that the legal jurisdiction of the rabbis was maintained helped preserve the attachment of Tunisian Jewery to its religious traditions.

Jewish intellectuals
AC213. Jewish society rapidly furnished a high % of academically trained people. Their minority status & their traditional desire for learning urge to excel in studies. French educational system, democratic, enabled everyone, Jew or Moslem, to feel at ease in academic world. education from nursery school to university was free; grants for deserving students. Jews benefited from these privileges which changed the course of their destiny, their outlook & their culture within the space of few generations.

Some significant literary figures in Tunisian Francophone literature:
Albert Memmi (1920) was born in the Jewish quarters of Tunis. His most famous novel, La Statue de Sel, written in 1953, treats the themes of identity and alienation in the story of a boy from the Jewish quarter of Tunis. He moved to France in 1956. Other works include Agar (1955),Le Scorpion (1969), Le Désert (1977), Le Pharaon(1989), Le Mirliton du ciel (poetry, 1990). Memmi is also the author of important philosophical works such as Portrait du colonisé (1957. English Translations

French influences on the North African communities

AC200: Wherever the Jews lived in NA they formed a very small percentage of the population. They had survived as a separate entity only by virtue of their internal cohesion, faith & traditions & by the outside pressure of discrimination & persecution that had reinforced their will to retain their identity, even at the price of martyrdom. The liberating influence of the French presence eased this external pressure & gradually allowed the demographic & social structure of the Jews to change & approach those of the European colonizers. It was a change that became gradually apparent in habits, clothing, housing, occupation, culture & ways of thought.
Assimilation to the powerful & enlightened European culture gave rise to mixed marriages between Jews & Christians. In Tunisia, 850 mixed marriages were registered between 1939 & 1945.
From all the statistics presented, one fact stands out clearly in NA: the Jews were everywhere in a position of midway between the Europeans & the Moslems. Moslems offered more solid resistance to new ideas; Jews on the other hand embraced them warmly & absorbed them with remarkable speed & enthusiasm.

3. * Occidental Jewish Identity

RA. The integration of the younger people into the framework of the general educational system, into French schools and universities, led to a gradual diffusion of new cultural values into the Jewish community in the areas of language, dress, housing, customs and life style. ES: social mobility, westernized clothing and new habits in occupation, housing. French became their mother tongue, and they wrote novels in French. Many became traditional rather than observant Jews. A new Jewish identity emerged resembling the Occidental colonizers.

Emancipation enabled, for the first time, Jewish identity in Tunisia to become fluid, and to shift from an Oriental one to an Occidental one. Growing contact with French population helped the Jews of Tunisia to achieve rapid integration

p.9. As Memmi suggests in his 1975 collection of essays significantly titled Jews and Arabs,36 though Tunisian Jews lived in Tunisia prior to its colonization by the French, they were a "dominated, humiliated, threatened, and periodically massacred" minority, living among a Muslim Arab majority that persecuted it, as a result of which European colonization, "which the majority of Jewish intellectuals condemned for the sake of political ethics, was received by our own masses as a guarantee of survival."37 All the Jews of Tunisia, feeling more secure under the European Protectorate, ardently tried to identify themselves with the French; they were willing to assimilate to the French culture that translated into socioeconomic emancipation, because, though "Jews have been living in these so-called Arab countries before the arrival of the Arabs . . . [the] fact is that for centuries the Muslim Arabs have scornfully, cruelly, and systematically prevented [them] from carrying it out . . . [and] cohabitation with the Arabs was . . . filled with threats."38

p.6. Memmi affirms that the majority of Tunisian Jews "were undeniably ‘natives,’ . . . as near as possible to the Muslims in poverty, language, sensibilities, customs, taste in music, odors and cooking."22 And they were treated as "second-class citizens."23 But, because they were Jews and not Muslim Arabs, their situation was different from that of Tunisian Muslim Arabs and it let them more eagerly attempt to assimilate to French culture and move ardently toward the West. The Jews of Tunisia, "unlike the Muslims, . . . passionately endeavored to identify themselves with the French . . . turned [their] back happily on the East[,] . . . chose the French language, dressed in the Italian style, and joyfully adopted every idiosyncrasy of the Europeans."24

p.6. Quite many observers have noted that it is remarkable how quickly Tunisian Jews shifted their identification and leaped from a way of life quite similar to that of the Muslim Arab population into a new European cultural world, following the establishment of the French Protectorate in Tunisia in 1882. Under the French Protectorate, the Jews had a different position, "one small notch above the Muslims on the pyramid which is the basis of all colonial societies."25 Contact with the French colonizers of Tunisia and the official presence of the French facilitated the assimilation of Tunisian Jews to French culture and their emancipation. Relying on the French revolutionary promise of "Liberté, Egalité, et Fraternité," the Jews hoped for a better life and were very receptive to the new French influences, though they had a Christian European source.


AC203: French administration in NA set up a new ethos of power, wealth & prestige, along the 2 separate worlds of the Moslem medina & the Jewish hara/mellah. Jews out of ardent desire for progress, were the 1st to be drawn to European way of life. Spirit of new civilization gave rise to hopes, doubts & aspirations. Once knowledge of French acquired, new patterns of speech & thought opened up, which in turn rapidly led to new customs, new interests, new attitudes, new manners, new values &, finally, to a new society.

Occidentalization. New quarters. economic evolution. language: French. (p. 60)


For the Jews, the AIU & the French public school system were also their passport to the new civilization. By the second generation, the French language replaced Judeo-Arabic as the only mother tongue.5 Tunisian Jewish parents started to give a French first name to their children. Change also became apparent in the external signs ...
In the 1950s the majority of urban Jewish youths and young adults began to master the French language in significant numbers, at the expense of Judeo-Arabic

Edith Shaked (ES). As a consequence, a confused Memmi’s daughter (born in France to a non-Jewish mother) pondered her own, and her father’s, identity when asking, "are you Arab, father? Your mother speaks Arabic. And I, am I Arab, or French, or Jewish/a Jew?"26

Memmi’s daughter’s question is very important since it uses specific terms of social identity—"Arab," "French," "Jew." The question does not involve the use of "Christian" or "Muslim" to modify either "French" or "Arab," clearly reflecting the Tunisian reality of three distinct social identity groups— les Français, les Arabes, les Juifs—which are, at the same time, national and religious.

And the Jews of Tunisia, who were able to maintain and reproduce their autonomous administrative, cultural, and religious institutions, have always regarded themselves, and were regarded by both the Arabs and the French, as being a separate and distinct community. All the Jews of Tunisia— native "Twansa," Spanish, Grana/Italian, and other Jews—could be defined as a community bound together by their religion, their Jewish cultural traditions, history, and a sense of continuity with the Jewish Past.

Therefore, in the modernizing French-controlled Tunisia, even when Jewish parents started to give their children French first names after centuries of using Hebrew and Arabic names, they went on assigning them Hebrew middle names, and they stopped giving Arabic names. For example, a girl might have been named Marie (French) and Miriam (Hebrew), instead of Miriam and Massouda (Arabic).

New habit in clothing, occupation, culture & ways of thought

=occidental Jewish society
Folkways, values, customs, and superstitions, have started to fade away
The children also were dressed in new styles of clothing and with their parents wore European-style pants, dresses, shoes, and head covers rather than the Arab-style ones. Dress code changes are the external signs that had marked the affiliation of the Jews as belonging to a specific religious ethnic minority and their exclusion from the Muslim Arabs. As married women stopped concealing their hair under a taqrita (head covering), an identity based on Jewish religious law and the values of the Judeo-Islamic cultures began to be transformed. As men replaced the traditional indigenous attire—the sarawal (the billowing oriental trousers), the burnous/jubba, the red chechia (a type of round hat), and the belgha (a type of slipper) with the Western complet-veston (suit), the casquette, or the French beret—the indices of Jewish identity now Westernized, ceased to mark the Jews as different, blurring the boundaries between them and the French.

Life style & Culture

Not only clothes, but also table manners were modified and people had fewer shared dishes into which everyone dips for food and used plates and silverware. In addition, of course, Jews altered their folkways, removing protective devices against the evil eye, or as more often happened translated ritual phrases into French. Westernization spread in the domain of culture and leisure.

RA. At first in the late 19th c., a varied, popular, secular literature developed:
More than 1200 publications appeared in Judeo-Arabic -Bible stories, poems, translations from French literature. More than 60 newspapers published, cultural variety: Zionists, comics. Hebrew printing established; made it possible to publish prayer books, Talmudic essays written in Hebrew by Tunisian rabbis.

After World War I and World War II, the quantity of publications in Judeo-Arabic decreased, as French gained ground as the language of the educated. Newspapers in French expressed the various trends of thought that were beginning to emerge among the Jews,
ES. The Tunisian Jews were reading a variety of French novels and writing their own. They could read many Jewish newspapers in French, such as La Justice, L’Egalité, La Voix Juive, and Le Petit Matin. They listened to Western music and singers such as Dalida, Paul Anka, Sarita Montiel, and Les Compagnons de la Chanson. They saw French movies with Brigitte Bardot, Jean Gabin, Catherine Deneuve, and Jeanne Moreau and American movies with Burt Lancaster, Doris Day, Esther Williams, James Dean, and Charlton Heston. They attended concerts, operas, and theaters together with the colonizers. They danced the fox trot and the cha-cha-cha.
image shift, from the Oriental colonized inhabitant to resembling the Occidental colonizer


RA. The development of the colonial economy made Jewish businesses flourish.
AC215. Rapid development of NA during French presence profoundly affected the traditional economic activities of the Jews & modified the functions they fulfilled in society. Benefits of peace, impartial justice, political emancipation & modern education gave Jews opportunity to develop their economic potential.

NS2/25-26. The AIU educational network and the French public schools produced cadres of westernized Middle Eastern and North African Jews who now had a distinct advantage of opportunity over the largely uneducated Muslim masses as the Middle East (ME) & the Maghreb; were drawn ineluctably into the modern world economic system.

The dress code westernized a la francaise, Jews found access to new economic opportunities; enter public service, banks, offices, and schools; medicine, law, pharmacy -new jobs as clerks, industrials and doctors. They came to occupy a position of intermediaries between the French colonizers and the colonized Arabs. After 1946: trained in new professions: architecture, engineering, technology, teachers. Middle class expanded.

AC216-7. Jews integrated into the modern economic life of NA. A class of large-scale traders developed; class of university-trained intellectuals filled professions & served administration grew rapidly. Process accompanied by gradual disappearance of the petty craftsmen.

AC220-2. In 1946, 28% of total of Tunisian & French Jews were listed as employed. ... Over half of those employed were engaged in industry -garment, leather trades, jewelry, watchmaking; in chemical & textile industries, graphic arts, building industry; a third under commerce & banking.

The young Tunisian Jew had a special taste for intellectual pursuits. poor families made great sacrifices to enable child to study. By 1946, the Jewish intellectuals made up 9% of the working Jewish population. Medicine made up the next largest single group -10%, followed by lawyers, technicians, artists, writers, clerks & bookkeepers.

AC227. The colonial power tended to recruit administrators & experts either in France or among the local Jews, an ideal minority, which served as a buffer between the colonizers & the colonized.

ES. Undertaking cultural and socioeconomic changes made it possible for the Jewish minority of Tunisia to eventually occupy a "middle" kind of position between the French colonizers and the colonized Tunisian Muslim Arabs.28
NS2/25-26. Jews came to have a place in the economic life of the Muslim world that was far out of proportion to their numbers or their social status in the general population. had disproportionate role in liberal professions. they continued their accustomed role as intermediaries on an unprecedented scale. Their western ties & their economic success were deeply resented by the Muslim majority.
AC217. The economic emancipation caused the Jews to burst outward.
They came to have a new mobility.

ES. Many of the changes that Tunisian Jews undertook may seem superficial since they establish rather small variations of appearance and some such variations were introduced by Tunisian Muslims as well, since as Memmi notes, "the first attempt of the colonized is to change his condition by changing his skin."27 But when the colonial power started to hire Jews in their administration, these minor differences mattered greatly over time because they blurred some of the boundaries between the Tunisian Jews and the French colonizers, while distancing the Jews a bit from the Tunisian Muslims.

New Housing

AC228. As result of constant growing contact with European patterns of life, inhabitants of hara aspired to escape their pestilential surroundings to modern apartments. Growing numbers of Jews were able to attain a reasonable measure of human dignity.

RA. Successful Jewish families left the Hara (Jewish quarter in Tunis) and moved to the new modern “European” districts built by the Protectorates and suburbs. poor behind.
Because of a rise in the standard of living and an improvement in medical hygiene, the death rate decreased and the Jewish population grew from 48,000 in 1921 to 60,000 in 1936.

*The Jewish Communities. Religious Communal Identity

The Jews distinguished themselves from the Arabs and the Europeans by their religion. They were able to maintain and reproduce their autonomous religious institutions, such as the rabbinical councils, preserving intact their religious and communal identity. ... a cohesive, well-organized and structured Jewish community, who remained a separate entity from the Arabs and the French.”3 They had a strong sense of belonging to a specific Jewish community.
The Jewish community remained a cohesive minority group, and its institutions continued to enjoy administrative, cultural and religious autonomy.

RA. Industrialization led to development of a Jewish working class. There were still poor families in the Hara; the Jewish Community Council of Tunis & of other cities, which were helped by charitable institutions like the Jewish American Joint, OSE, and local organizations, were active on behalf of the Jewish poor - developed welfare agencies.

Definition of the North African Jew

AC185: Jews of North Africa (NA) could be defined as a community bound together by religion, culture, history & tradition. Diversity of factors: Semitic strains of Israelites & Phoenicians, Berber converts, Jews from Spain & Italy. Thus, while the Jews of NA were predominantly dark-haired & dark-eyed, blue eyes & blond or red hair were not at all uncommon.
Family names - over 10% of names were of Hebrew or Aramaic origin, nearly half of Arabic or Berber origin, just under 20% or romance origin.

Definition of “Jew” in NA must fall back on allegiance to Jewish faith & traditions, for it was that which determined, throughout centuries, the fact that a person was a Jew. The sense of belonging to the community was preserved among the Jews of NA with great vigor, reinforced by a common faith & by shared oppression & suffering. Jewishness, as defined through allegiance to the Jewish community, makes it easier to delineate a demographic study of the Jews of the Maghreb

Arab Jew or Jewish Arab

These are false terms and false notions, according to Tunisia born expert on Maghrebien Jews, Professor Jacob Taieb, Sorbonne University, France. Tunisia born historian, Professor Paul Sebag, stated that “these terms were never used in Tunisia, and they do not do not correspond/coincident to the religious and socio-historical context/reality of the Jews in Tunisia/the Arab world.” Nowadays, one distinguishes between a Moslem Arab and a Christian Arab, and I think this caused some to invent, to facilitate matters, the terms: Arab Jew or Jewish Arab = Juif Arab or Arabe juif. The historical fact is, that the Arab component of the North African society was introduced during the conquest of the seventh century, after the establishment of North African Jewish communities.

In Arab countries, there are Jews among the Arabs, like in European and other countries, there are Jews among the French, Italian, Polish, German, American ... people. In North Africa, some Jews are arabophone, speaking a Judeo-Arabic language, and others are francophone, speaking French; and in some areas there are “arabized” Jews who dress quite like Arabs. The fact is that even when the Jewish community was culturally quite embedded in its Muslim Arab environment, Jews were always considered members of a socio-religious community minority, different and distinct from the Arab population, because of their Jewish cultural tradition, their common past, and the Judeo-arabic language - all of them separated them from the Arabs. And the Arabs saw the Jews, even the ones who spoke only Judeo-Arabic, as members of a socio-linguistic religious cultural community, different from theirs.

The Jews of Tunisia distinguished themselves from the ‘Arabs’ and the ‘French’ by the differences of their religion and their Jewish cultural tradition, but they have also used the Judeo-Arab language to separate themselves from the ‘Arabs.’ In fact, before and after the French Protectorate, they have always regarded themselves, and were regarded by the ‘Arabs’ as being separate and distinct, and as a linguistic, religious, and cultural distinctive community. It was and has been a clear, and undeniable mutual self-identification of ‘we, the Jews’/’they, the Arabs,’ and ‘we, the Arabs’/they, the Jews, the others’ a state of matter clearly reflected and implemented in an history of discrimination and persecution under Arab rule, and painfully described in Jews and Arabs, a revealing title, by Memmi:

“having to tremble for one’s life and the future of one’s children, ... being denied any existence or one’s own ... for centuries ... .” The memory of that unforgettable shared past of oppression and suffering reinforced the self-perception of all the Jews of Tunisia, native ‘Twansa,’ Spanish, Grana/’Livornese’, and foreign-born Jews, and gave shape to their separate Jewish cultural identity. And their identity was a religious communal identity with a strong sense of belonging to a community, bound together by by their Jewish faith, culture, history, traditions, and a sense of continuity with the Jewish past.

Emergence of a new man

AC243. Penetration of Western ideas into Maghreb brought rapid change in mentality & outlook of inhabitants. Jews welcomed transformations brought by newcomers from Europe, taking full advantage of the educational, cultural & economic opportunities the French offered. Above all, they welcomed their liberation from the 2nd-class status to which they had been relegated under Moslem rule. Young students imbued by their French teachers with ideals of liberty & self-respect. But spread of antisemitism among European settlers caused Jews to go to France, Israel for self-respect


ES. Memmi claims that both Christians and Muslim Arabs have been distressed by Jewish difference. At its early beginnings, this difference threatened Christianity since it competed with Judaism from which, in addition, it needed to differentiate itself. Christian antisemitism responds to the threat posed by Jewish existence. For Islam, antisemitism plays a different role. Here, what is at issue is the need for an oppression that always reminds both sides that Islam won its wars and the Jews lost theirs: "The Jews deserve scorn because they are weak."52 Tunisian Jews have been the subject of Muslim Arab scorn for a long time.

French colonialism, as well as immigration to France, brought Tunisian Jews in contact with European antisemites.

Middle East expert Professor Rafi Yisraeli discussed the different sources of antisemitism: ‘First there is the Islamic line. Islam is imbued with anti-Jewish views ... The 2nd source of Arab antisemitism is European antisemitism, exported to the Arab world.’ In Tunisia, it was transplanted by French colonizers. xeros p. 103

The French Revolution & its Impact

The event that marked a turning point in the legal status of the Jews was the French Revolution, with allegiance to the centralized nation-state, not to the Church/regional /religious groups. Also, with its slogan of ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ affirmed in the French ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man,’ abolition of legal limitations, and liberalism -political movement in the 19th c., that opposed autocratic powers of the throne, and supported equality, & individual civil rights, the French Revolution will legally allow the entry of the Jewish people into the modern world.

While in the past, Jews’ status had been guaranteed by a charter or permits by potentates, in the 18th and 19th c., their equal rights were granted by a constitution and laws. France was the 1st country in which a decree in 1791, made Jews legally emancipated - free and equal citizen before the law -emancipation meant legal and civic equality of the Jews with other citizens.

Modern Antisemitism

During the 19th century, the religiously inspired medieval Christian anti-Judaism in Latin Christendom- changed; hostility toward Judaism hostility toward was transformed, in the context of the modern secular nation-states.

In the past, resentment and hatred was focused on the stereotype of the Jew possessed by the Devil and symbol of Satan, because Christians saw Jews as murderers of Christ; having tails, and horns; and using Christian children’s blood for religious ceremonies, & poisoning wells.
... during the course of the nineteenth century, the religiously inspired anti-Judaism of the Christian medieval world was to undergo a change.

The rampant growth of nationalism during the 19th c. had an ambiguous effect on the Jews. To some extent the national movement tended to look back to an idealize their countries’ glorious past -a Christian past- from which the Jews were excluded.
Jews, as outsiders who did not share the common culture, religion, and values, were suspiciously seen as a threat by extremists in the nationalist movement. As such, they became the targets of antisemitic persecution.

Antisemitism, in contrast to earlier forms, was based not on religious practices of the Jews but on the theory that Jews comprised an inferior race. Antisemites exploited the fact that Jews had been forced into exile by extolling as "fact" that their "rootlessness" had a genetic basis. A Jew was a Jew not because he or she practiced any particular religion, but because it was a character of his or her blood.

Antisemitism in France

In France, among some Catholics & anti-republican militarists, the Revolution was viewed as the incarnation of evil, planned by mysterious anti-French & anti-Christian forces.
In late 19th century France, popular and intellectual antisemitism (here, a mixture of religious & racial antagonism) was quite spread, and the Alliance Israelite Universelle, with its headquarters in Paris was attacked as the center of an international French conspiracy.

Edouard Drumont
Edouard Drumont was the foremost proponent of the new antisemitic creed. In 1886, his antisemitic tract, La France Juive - Jewish France, went through 114 editions in 1 year & paved the way for large-scale antisemitic propaganda. Drumont contrasted the greedy, mercantile Jew with the heroic & trusting Aryan; ‘Jewish France, argued that the Jews, racially inferior & believers in a primitive religion, and had gained control of France. The book sold more than a million copies. Drumont blamed the Jews for introducing capitalism & greed into France. Like medieval Christian anti-Judaism, Drumont accused Jews of deicide & using the blood of slaughtered Christian children for ritual purposes. (in rural France, the accusation of ritual murder, a deranged survival of the Middle Ages, still persisted, at times fomented by the clergy).

“French antisemitism was ... associated with the forces of political right: chauvinist nationalists, the Catholic church, those wishing to restore the monarchy & deeply conservative elements within the army -but- ... political power always remained in the hands of the liberal republicans, a government which never endorsed political antisemitism.’6

The international ‘Jewish conspiracy’ - The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
“A favorite image from the turn of the century was that of the power-crazed Jews engaged in an international conspiracy to undermine the safe & peaceful world of the gentiles, fomenting wars, revolutions & the collapse of organized religion. The ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ is the single most notorious antisemitic publication of this type.”7

‘In the 1890s the myth of a Jewish conspiracy, to take over the world, found its culminating expression in the notorious forgery, written in France by an unknown author: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; forged by Russian emigres in France, in the midst of the Dreyfus affair, with the assistance of the Russian secret police, it alleged a massive Jewish international conspiracy to seize power all over the globe, to start wars and depressions. The Protocols purported to be minutes of part of the 1897 international meeting of Jewish leaders, known as the 1st World Zionist Congress, called by Theodor Herzl.

The Protocols “painted a startling picture of an international Jewish leadership )the sinister ‘elders’) bent on world domination and using all the forces of the modern world to achieve it;”8 Protocols 1st published in Russia in 1903, in Germany after World War I in 1919 & widely believed, in France & the US by Henry Ford in 1920, and in Britain in 1921.

This forgery was poorly-written, and was totally implausible from beginning to end. Preposterous as it was, however, the Protocols were believed by those among the populace who found Jews to be convenient scapegoats. The document was translated into at least 7 languages & enjoyed wide circulation between the wars. It was not until 1921 that a London Times newspaper reporter uncovered that the story described in The Protocols was a direct plagiarism of 2 obscure fictional works, one a satire on Napoleon by a French writer, Maurice Joly, and the other a story by Herman Goedsche. The damage, however, could not be erased.

The Dreyfus Affair & its Impact in North Africa
‘In 1894, a French, Jewish military officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, was arrested and falsely charged with selling state secrets to Germany. Dreyfus was convicted on the basis of trumped up evidence, and he was deported. After his trial, evidence surfaced which proved that Dreyfus was innocent, and his conviction was eventually overturned. However, the Dreyfus case inflamed the hatred for the Jews of many French conservatives and reactionaries. The case divided the country politically, and anti-Jewish violence erupted.’

‘During the antisemitic outbursts accompanying the Dreyfus affair, when the French right was shouting ‘Death to the Jews,’ Drumont’s newspaper (founded with Jesuit funds) tried to inflame public opinion with sensational polemics against the Jews; it blamed all the ills of France on the Jews, called for their expulsion from the country, and predicted that they would be massacred.’

ML26. Cremieux Decree helped fuel the flames of European discontent & antisemitism.
ML.p56. European population protested violently against the rights which France granted the Jews, and was especially vocal during the Dreyfus Affair.
ACp152. 1898: Manifestation following “I Accuse” by Emile Zola led to anti-Jewish riots in all principal towns of Algeria.

The Jews followed the Dreyfus Affair; they were very disturbed with his condemnation.
PSp150. March 26-29, 1898: fighting between Jews & Arabs in the Hara of Tunis, became a riot; in the whole city, Moslems attacked Jews, looting houses & stores, without the police intervening until March 29. Trial; July 1898: everyone free.

In Tunisia, like in France, the Dreyfus Affair divided the French into 2 fighting camps, with French newspapers taking sides. It seems that among the colonial administration, the anti-Dreyfus were the majority, because of 2 incidents:

1. November 12, 1898: During a play of Zola, French students, at a colonial school, disturbed the play, shouting, “Down with Zola!” “Down with the Jews!” “Vive l’armee!” Italian Jews answered back “Vive Zola!” One shouted “Down with France;” he was expulsed from Tunisia.
2. February 12, 1899: Mardi Gras march; young Jews staged a story: a person dressed as a French soldier, with a French flag (Dreyfus) was running being wiped by a clown. It was a scandal. People involved arrested and punished. The Jewish population felt threatened by an explosion of antisemitism.

November 9, 1899: before the verdict, appeal to be quiet.
July 12, 1906: Dreyfus was found innocent. Tunisian Jews happy. A poem/Kinah about Dreyfus -Melzum Dreyfus- was published in Judeo-Arabic.

World War I, 1914-1918
RA. Jews were exempt from military service, and thus did not serve in the French army during WWI, except for those who had volunteered.
NS2/47-50. War destroyed old order. Wilson doctrine of self-determination. IN Arab world, collapse of ME followed by almost total European colonial domination. Arab lands under European rule/protectorate status. Jews & Christians showed scant enthusiasm for military service. most Jews stayed out of the military.
Some 100s of Jews enlisted under the French flag. French disappointed that Tunisian Jews did not sign up in droves. Tunisian Jews, unlike Algerian ones, were not French citizen & held a rather inferior legal & social status, felt little inclination, in view of pervasive antisemitism of French officials & colonists in France.

Anti-Jewish feeling erupted into violence from Aug. 20 to 22, 1917, when native/ Tunisian troops attached to the French army went on a rampage in Tunis, attacking Jews and pillaging their shops -attacked Jewish quarters leaving death & destruction -plundered their shops and looted their houses while the police did nothing to stop them. Rioting spread to Bizerte, Sfax, Sousse, Kairouan, Gabes & Mahdia, before order was restored.

PS171. Antisemtic manifestations at end of war. French insulted, beat Jews. Nov. 13, 1918, Tunis Jews marched to protest the violence against them. From the cafe of Paris, French shouted “Down with the Jews!” Fighting. Police came and joined the French. Calm back.

The Tunisian Community during the Post-War Period, 1918-

AC170: At end war, Jews still formed a well-organized group/community; rabbinical court still active, had its seat in Tunis, judges appointed by Bey; rabbinical court based its judgments in matters of personal status on Jewish law; this bothered emancipated Jewish women.
Jewish community directed by a council (decree of 19221); formed of 2 bodies representing the “Tunisian” & the “Portuguese” sections until the 1944 decree united them. 23 communities outside of Tunis were organized into “religious & welfare funds,” while a 24th, the committee of the synagogue of Ghriba on island of Djerba, was concerned solely with the religious interests of the Jews of the island. Income of communities derived from income from the cemeteries, taxes on Kosher meat, on wine & on bokha. It was supplemented from government grants that supported the Chief Rabbinate & the School for Rabbinical Law.

The Jews in Tunisian Affairs
AC172: Jews also represented as a separate group in the country’s representative bodies.
The division of Tunisian Jewish community into French & Tunisian subjects did nothing to simplify their position when the Neo-Destour under leader Habib Bourguiba commenced the struggle for complete independence from France. Jews caught unprepared for this national conflict.

Between Nationalism & Colonialism in the Aftermath of the First World War, 1918-

NS2/59. NA Jewry not attracted to Arab nationalism, weak & unorganized in postwar Maghreb. Their political outlook & aspirations were quite different. NA states were outright colonial entities; much closer to ruling powers of France, Italy, & Spain.
Even after WWI, Tunisian & Moroccan Jews were still technically dhimmis, protected subjects of the Muslim rulers, the bey of Tunisia. French policy to maintain the traditional social balance as far as possible.

The North African communities & world Jewry

AC187: In 1927 there were 130,000 Jews in Algeria, 70,000 in Tunisia & 175,000 in Morocco. 30% of all Jews living in Moslem countries. By 1951, there was close to 11 and a half million Jews. 140,000 Jews in Algeria, 105,000 in Tunisia & 255,000 in Morocco - a total of half a million. they formed the 4th largest Jewish community in the world after the US, Soviet Russia & Israel.
Small minority of the population in their respective countries: 1.75% of total Algeria, 3.23% in Tunisia, 2.5% in Morocco. Their importance quite out of proportion to their relatively small numbers because of the role they played as intermediaries between the French colonizers & the local Moslem population.

Population growth
AC192. 1921: 48,436 Jews. 1946: 70,000 Jews of Tunisian nationality+32,000 of French nationality. 1951: 105,000; 1/3 of the non-Moslem population.

Geographical distribution

AC195. In north, Jews lived in urban agglomerations where Europeans were to be found in large numbers. 60% of Jews, 65,000 lived in Tunis & surroundings. important center in north: Sousse with 6,400 & Sfax with 5,700. Nabeul, Bizerta & Grombalia each had around 2,500 Jews. In all these towns there were a large concentration of Europeans.

In south, Jews dwelt in towns they had inhabited for some 2000 years & continued to lead a way of life that had changed little since the Middle Ages. almost 4,500 Jews on island of Djerba, with only 600 Europeans; 4,000 in Gabes & 17 Europeans; 2,000 in Ben-Ghardane & 1,000 in Gafsa. There were 26 major Jewish communities in Tunisia. After end WWII, Jews moved to larger communities to feel more secure. This reflects all aspects of Tunisian Jewry’s existence in which they held a position between the Moslems & the Europeans. Having formerly led a way of life that was not very different from that of the Moslem population, they began, with advent of the French, to adapt themselves to European ways.

Facing West

RA. The influence of Western culture was also expressed in new patterns of family life and in the weakening of traditional framework.
Jewish communities in provincial towns retained their traditional way of life, but French education contributed to a change.

Political, educational, & economic emancipation
of ME & NA Jews during 19th & 20th c. under impact of growing European influences. Transition was not without dislocations & traumas, both within the Jewish communities of the Arab world & in their relations with the dominant society around them.

Traditional social framework of the Jewish community tended to lose ground in face of new culture. Closed society of hara opened up thru contact with French influences, &, for 1st time Jews able to leave its physical & spiritual confines. Presence of French gave Jews chance to become acquainted with modern world, to learn from & adapt to it.
French administration made possible & encourage the accelerated integration & assimilation of NA Jewry. Colonial society became wealthier, organized, & offering increasing opportunities for the education of wider section of the native population, so integration of Jews into French society, culture & economic life became more rapid.
(in the Maghreb, the emancipating power was secular, democratic, republican France. ... the oppressor had been Moslems
Inevitably, the new society & the powerful drive for emancipation brought with it new problems. There was alienation from Judaism & its traditional values.

1 laskier, p. 12

2 Laskier, 20th c., p. 4

3 Laskier, p. 5

4 laskier, p. 23-24

5 Paul Sebag, Histoire des Juifs de Tunisie (Paris, 1991), p. 143.

6 Landau, Ronnie S. The Nazi Holocaust. London-New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd Publishers,1992, p. 63

7 Landau, Ronnie S. The Nazi Holocaust. London-New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd Publishers,1992, p. 60

8 Ibid., p. 60