Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fifty years since Algiers Synagogue ransacked

It is exactly 50 years, on 11 December 1960, since Algerian Arabs attacked the Great Synagogue in Algiers. They had been incensed by the visit of General de Gaulle and violence by the 'pieds-noirs' (Algerians of French descent) and the OAS. The Algerian Jews had hitherto tried to remain studiedly neutral between the FLN fighters for independence and the pro-French paramilitary (OAS). Now they understood that their bread was buttered on the French side. Two years later, almost the entire Algierian Jewish community fled, nearly all to France.

"What better way of expressing weakness and cowardice than by attacking the greatest symbol
of Algerian Judaism, hitherto always respected and untouched, in the heart of the Casbah," write Albert Bensoussan and Julien Zenouda.

They go on to describe the scene: "
In the centre of the old city, Jews and Arabs had always lived in harmony. The Jews came and went among them without fear. We spoke the same language, they respected us and we had esteem and affection for them. They entered the holy place and went on the rampage, tore the memorial plaques off the walls, ripped up the symbols of our faith, sullied books and Torah scrolls, emptied the lockers where people stored tallit, tephilin and prayer books, and torched everything.

"The (French)
Paras then came with their red berets, occupied the place, camped on the floor of our Temple, ate, drank and fornicated with the clear conscience of soldiers, and, adding insult to injury, set up a Christmas tree.
"

Read article in full - Via Blog du site terre d'Israel (French)

8 comments:

Silke said...

as to "2 years later" i.e. 1962 - I started work in Paris in June of that year and at the time it was close to impossible to find a hotel room, the French version of a furnished room, to rent in Paris because of the "pieds noirs". This piece makes me wonder how the Jewish refugees were coping amidst that deluge.

Elder of Ziyon said...

50 years....

bataween said...

thanks for point that out, Elder, correction made.

bataween said...

point= pointing
..not my day today!

Silke said...

what a pity the typo had made me feel 10 years younger than I am

;-)

bataween said...

And making the typo makes me realise how old I am!

Hels said...

An important story, but we never hear about it. I was writing about the Oran synagogue, but not the Algiers synagogue, so thanks for the link.
Hels
http://melbourneblogger.blogspot.com/2009/08/great-synagogue-of-oran-1880-1963.html

bataween said...

Very interesting indeed, thanks Hels.