Sunday, December 19, 2010

Point of honour for Berbers to protect Jews

Daphne Anson has dug up this interesting insight into the 19th century patron-client relationship of Berbers and Jews:

"And here’s a report from the same newspaper (London Voice of Jacob - 28 March 1845), concerning the degraded dhimmi Jews of the Barbary States; it’s actually an extract from Notes on North Africa, the Sahara and Soudan (New York, 1844) by William Brown Hodgson, formerly US Consul in Tunis:

"Jews are numerous in all the villages of Biscara and the Wadreng. They enjoy an efficient protection among the Berber tribes in all the wide regions of Algiers and Morocco. This is afforded by a system of individual relationship, which may be compared to that of patron and client. Every Jew has his particular Sidi, patron or magister, who is responsible for his acts, and to whom he looks for counsel and protection. The defence of his Jewish dependant is a point of honour with the free Amazirgh, or Numidian; and he will protect him from injury or aggression at the risk of his life. Such is the patronal relation of the Israelites among the Scbelechs [sic] or Berbers of Morocco, where their numbers are estimated at half a million. The Arabs do not yield to them this protection. Deprived of civil rights in Barbary, the social condition of the Jews merits investigation."

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