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La bienvenue et l’adieu | 1

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Frédéric Abécassis
, 
Karima Dirèche
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Rita Aouad

Deuxième partie : Colonisation et distorsion de l'espace

Identity and nation: Jewish migrations and inter-community relations in the colonial Maghreb

Daniel Schroeter

Texte intégral

1Before the nineteenth century, the Jews of the Maghreb were part of a trans-regional network of loosely connected Jewish communities, common historical experiences, shared cultures and languages. Communication, travel, and migration formed connections between Jewish communities that transcended the existing political divisions of empires, kingdoms, and states of the Western Mediterranean world.

  • 1 Daniel J. Schroeter, «The Shifiting Boundaries of Moroccan Jewish Identities,» Jewish Social Studie (...)

2After the expulsion from Spain in 1492 and in the centuries that followed, a more distinctive Maghrebi identity emerged, yet one that eventually developed a collective identity with the Iberian past. While many Jews in the Maghreb came to identify with the larger world of Sephardi Jews, they remained a distinctive subgroup of the larger entity, most highlighted when migrating to the Eastern Mediterranean and to different parts of the Atlantic world.1

  • 2 Ibid., 157. On sub-ethnic categories of Jews in the Eastern Mediterranean, see Matthias B. Lehmann, (...)

3While Jews of the Maghreb were often fiercely loyal to their place or town of origin, a label that was carried when travelling to or settling in new places, a larger identity, rooted in the Arabo-Hispanic world of the Western Mediterranean--the consequence of the relative mobility of traders, pilgrims, and travelers--also developed. Jews from the Maghreb who settled among the Sephardim of Western Europe, regardless of their town of origin, were labeled Berberiscos, an ascriptive identity used by the Sephardi establishment--the Spanish and Portuguese “Nation”--to distinguish itself from those coreligionists who came from the “Barbary.” While it is doubtful that Jews from Tunis, Fez or other parts of the Maghreb arriving in London or Amsterdam, would usually have described themselves as “Berberiscos,” they also recognized themselves as part of a larger, yet distinctive group, with cultural and religious customs that they held in common and which were different from other subgroups of Sephardi and Mediterranean Jews. Jews who migrated from the Maghreb to Palestine and to elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean, since the sixteenth century were identified as “Westerners” or Maghrebi Jews.2

4Let us jump to the post-colonial period. These trans-regional Jewish identities have been replaced by national labels, ironically most sharply accented outside places of origin : Moroccans, Tunisians, Libyans in Israel, Algerians in France, etc. These labels also imply a sense of hierarchy or even rivalry, with each country of origin establishing the perimeters by which each of these supposedly stable identities are defined. These identities with countries of origin were a product of the modern, especially colonial history of the Maghreb in which the nation state had become the sine qua non of modernity for the Jews in North Africa.

  • 3 The mille ans edition was published by G.-P. Maisonneuve et Larose in 1983; the deux mille ans edit (...)
  • 4 Mille ans, 11.

5Much of the literature on the Jews of the Maghreb imagines a singular Jewish community associated to the countries in which Jews lived in the twentieth century and that looks back to antiquity. Thus, the popular work of Haim Zafrani, is entitled in one edition Mille ans de vie juive au Maroc, and in a later edition, Deux mille ans.3 Zafrani writes : “Le judaïsme d’Occident musulman plonge ses racines dans un passé lointain. Historiquement, les juifs sont le premier peuple non berbère qui vint au Maghreb et qui ait continué à y vivre jusqu’à nos jours.”4 In fact, besides Zafrani’s introductory remarks that situated the Jews in the ancient, pre-Islamic Maghrebi past, the book itself is really focused on the post-sixteenth century period (post-expulsion) in Morocco, and represents a synthesis of his various studies that concentrate on this later period. Zafrani’s work in general reveals his great erudition and knowledge of the literature and culture of the Moroccan-Jewish past ; at the same time, it can be regarded as a kind of nationalist reading, viewing Morocco as the true and only heir to the Jewish Andalusian « Golden Age, » living in a symbiotic relationship with Muslims (in this sense also connecting to the Muslim Andalusian past), while at the same time, imagining a community and collective identity that is rooted in the ancient past.

  • 5 Richard Ayoun and Bernard Cohen, Les Juifs d’Algérie : 2000 ans d’histoire (Paris: Jean-Claude Latt (...)
  • 6 Ibid., 8.

6Richard Ayoun and Bernard Cohen, in their Les Juifs d’Algérie : deux mille ans d’histoire, are far more linear in their approach, writing a chronological narrative from ancient times to the present, even inventing at times the antiquity of Jews for certain communities when no or even contrary evidence exists. In contrast to Zafrani, who maintained and even strengthened his ties to Morocco after his immigration to France--and thus his emphasis on Judeo-Muslim harmony--for Ayoun and Cohen, it is the reassertion of a vulnerable Algerian-Jewish identity in France that motivates their writing, and I would say, shapes their analysis of Algeria. “Les fils des exilés de 1962, grandis dans le silence souvent amer, renouaient... avec leur propre passé.”5Rather than seeking the cultural commonalities between Muslims and Jews, Ayoun and Cohen emphasize that in uncovering an Algerian Jewish identity, they are reflecting the universal condition of all Jews. “Sans cultiver les particularismes, la recherche de notre identité participe d’une réflexion commune à tous les juifs, et dont les implications vont bien au-delà des limites communautaires.”6 Practically no attention is paid to the cultural exchange between Muslims and Jews, at least not explicitly, but rather, the incidents of persecution drive the narrative. And yet, even here there is an ambivalence, because to maintain some sense of a distinctive diasporic identity in France, the Algerian experience cannot be entirely dismissed as an unending saga of vicissitudes, nor can the assimilationist and colonialist discourse--the benefits of western civilization--be accepted either in its entirety if some sort of Algerian-Jewish identity is to be maintained.

  • 7 Paul Sebag, Histoire des Juifs de Tunisie : des origines à nos jours (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1991), 30 (...)

7A third example for Tunisia is Paul Sebag’s Histoire des Juifs de Tunisie : des origines à nos jours. Sebag follows a similar linear narrative to Ayoun and Cohen, with each chapter devoted to a different chronological period. Sebag pays much more attention to the place of the Jews in the larger history and society of Tunisia than do Ayoun and Cohen for Algeria, and also concludes with the emigration of Jews and the contemporary remnant in Tunisia. Although his book offers a kind of national reading of Tunisian Jewish history, he offers a somewhat more pessimistic view of the possibilities of a continued Tunisian Jewish identity than either Zafrani or Ayoun/Cohen would suggest. With regard to Israel, Sebag is doubtful that the cultural traits brought by Tunisian Jews will be transmitted to their children. Writing on Tunisian Jewish immigrants in France : “les Juifs de Tunisie établis en France peuvent fort bien affirmer leur identité en demeurant fidèles aux croyances et aux pratiques de la religion juive, mais vouloir le faire en se réclamant d’une culture judéo-tunisienne évanescente ne saurait être que la poursuite d’un fantasme.”7

  • 8 For an approach that stresses trans-Mediterranean migrations and the fluidity across borders, see t (...)

8These three works greatly contribute to knowledge of the Jews of all three countries, and can be regarded as foundational texts for understanding the history of the Jews in these three countries of the Maghreb. At the same time, they can be understood as a kind of national reading of history, a framing of analysis that circumscribes their histories within each respective country. The largely nineteenth and twentieth century hyphenated identities (Moroccan-Jews, Algerian-Jews, Tunisian-Jews, etc), produced by the introduction of European norms of modernity with the nation state at the center, followed by the creation of national boundaries under colonial rule and the development of « national » institutions that encompassed the history of the Jews of each country, are conventionally applied anachronistically to the histories and literatures of Jews originating in these countries. Yet if one regards the identification with each country as a kind of “invented tradition” which can be situated in time and place, then this opens up a different line of inquiry, one in which the focus shifts to important trans-national, or trans-Mediterranean histories, migrations, and identities which blurs some of the temporal distinctions between pre-colonial and colonial that has characterized much of the scholarly literature on the Maghreb.8

  • 9 On the Crémieux Decree, see Steven Uran. «Crémieux Decree.» Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic Wor (...)
  • 10 See especially Joshua Schreier, Arabs of the Jewish Faith: The Civilizing Mission in Colonial Alger (...)
  • 11 Daniel J. Schroeter and Joseph Chetrit, «Emancipation and its Discontents: Jews at the Formative Pe (...)

9As “national” history, the case of Algeria is particularly problematic with regard to the Jews’ identity. The colonial government of Algeria and the French Jewish leadership sought to integrate the Jews into the national French administrative and legal system, first by the establishment in Algeria of the French controlled Jewish consistorial system and then the granting of French citizenship by the Crémieux Decree of 1870 to the majority of Algerian Jews (only excluding some Jews in the peripheral Saharan regions, notably the Mzab).9 While viewed in many accounts as “emancipation,” scholarship has shown the degree to which these efforts were resisted by some or strategically utilized by others, and that the newly established colonial boundaries were often disregarded, as Jews continued to interact with networks of Jewish authority in the Mediterranean that transcended national and colonial borders.10 Furthermore, even after the acquisition of French nationality following the Crémieux Decree, Jews were often not identified as “French,” except in a legal sense ; Jews with French nationality were still thought of as “Algerian,” or, for example, “Moroccan” if they or their ancestors had migrated from Morocco. Finally, the wisdom of this unilateral granting of French citizenship was constantly challenged and questioned by the French authorities throughout the Maghreb--explicitly referred to as an error of judgment and the reason for not granting citizenship to Tunisian and Moroccan Jews11--which underscores the complexity of the relationship between identity and citizenship, or between one’s place of residence and one’s formal nationality.

10In the emancipatory rhetoric of a colonizing Europe, the transition from dhimmi to citizen was to occur within the framework of the nation-state, and if such nation-state did not exist, it had to be invented. For Algeria, the nation-state was that of France imposed on the Jews from the outside. For Tunisia and Morocco, the nation-state was indeed part of the modernizing agenda of European Jewry and of an elite of indigenous Jews, who began to construct a nation-wide identity with the country in which they lived, while at the same time identifying with modern European countries.

  • 12 For a discussion of the developing concept of “Moroccan Jewry,” see Jessica Marglin, “Modernizing M (...)
  • 13 For the Alliance israélite universelle expanding influence in Morocco, see Michael M. Laskier, The (...)
  • 14 Sarah Leivovici, Chronique des Juifs de Tétouan (1860-1896) (Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose, 1984).
  • 15 Isabelle Rohr, The Spanish Right and the Jews, 1898-1945: Antisemitism and Opportunism (Brighton, U (...)

11By the late nineteenth century, modernizing elites of Moroccan Jews began to consider themselves as part of a larger body of Moroccan Jewry, with the idea that they shared a common historical and cultural heritage.12 The idea that the various Jewish communities of Morocco were part of a larger collectivity was the view of the French Jewish organization, the Alliance Israélite Universelle. The Alliance began to expand its influence in Morocco, soon after the foundation of the organization in 1860, through its network of schools and political lobbying efforts, its local committees and alumni associations.13 The growing self-definition of the new elites as “Moroccan” did not contradict their aspirations for a modern, European identity, even expressing support for and identification with European countries, while rejecting the negative influences of the surrounding Muslim culture. France was the model for the majority of elite Jews, in light of the influence of the Alliance Israélite Universelle and the power of France in North Africa with its occupation of Algeria. However, neighboring Spain in the north of Morocco also had a powerful influence, especially since Spain’s war against Morocco in 1859-1860 and its occupation of Tetuan, a turning point for Morocco’s northern Jewish communities.14 The predominately Judeo-Spanish speaking Jews began to connect their Sephardi identity to the actual modern nation state of Spain, and during the Spanish Protectorate in Northern Morocco, would invoke their connection to their Spanish “homeland,” in an effort to create a modern identity that was quite different from a nostalgia for the Andalusian past. The ambivalent philosephardism or “politica sefardi used by the Spanish neo-colonial lobby as part of Spain’s expansionist policy in Morocco, which continued during the Protectorate period to counteract French influence, especially exercised through the Alliance Israélite Universelle, also helped promote Jewish loyalty to Spain.15 France, however, remained the most powerful symbol of modernity, greatly promoted by the Alliance Israélite Universelle, which expanded its network of schools and local committees in Morocco and Tunisia, inculcating liberal principles of citizenship and solidarity between Jewish communities.

12In the absence of citizenship in the Tunisian and Moroccan protectorates, Jews began to imagine themselves as part of a larger national community based on the modern European nation state, taking France, Spain, and in some instances--especially in Tunisia--Italy as their models. Yet it was a community without the goal of becoming integrated into the larger society through the creation of the modern Moroccan and Tunisian nation. Little incentive developed for Jews to participate in the nascent nationalist movements, although there were a few who did in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Only at the time of independence in Morocco and Tunisia did the Jewish leadership that remained position themselves as citizens of the state, as representatives of the Jewish communities as a whole. However, a gap remained between nationality and participation in civil society, or between pronouncements of leaders and the community as a whole.

  • 16 On Moroccan Jews becoming British subjects in Gibraltar or England, see Jean Louis Miège, Le Maroc (...)
  • 17 On Moroccan Jews becoming naturalized in Algeria and then returning to Morocco, see Miège, Le Maroc (...)

13For Morocco, the question of nationality as a legal question predated the issue of nationality as an identity issue. It was the consequence of controversies over the problem of “protection.” Protection extended extraterritorial rights to a growing number of indigenous “Moroccans,” Muslims and Jews, effectively placing them outside the legal jurisdiction of the state, and for Jews, this could imply escaping their dhimmi status defined by the Islamic state. Many Jews entered into this marketplace of competing protections, strategically seeking to improve their status and maneuverability by gaining protégé status from foreign consulates, or by migrating to places where foreign protection or citizenship was a possibility (Gibraltar, or Algeria for example, England in the case of Essaouira especially).16After the Crémieux Decree, Jewish men from many places in Morocco set out for Algeria with the hope of obtaining French nationality. Many returned as naturalized French citizens after a short stay in Algeria.17

  • 18 Daniel J. Schroeter, Merchants of Essaouira: Urban Society and Imperialism in Southwestern Morocco, (...)

14Essaouira in the nineteenth century is a revealing example of these competing identities, nationalities, and protections. As part of a network of port cities stretching across the Mediterranean, Jewish residents of the cities came from many countries ; both local protégés and foreign Jews came under a wide range of jurisdictions and became embroiled in all kinds of disputes not only between foreign consulates and the Makhzan, but between foreign powers, and internally within the Jewish community where the “national” rivalries of competing consular authority increased tensions among the elite leadership and their factions. Protégés of different foreign powers competed for leadership within the Jewish community, and sometimes strategically became agents of foreign powers. It is interesting to note, that often countries with the least commercial interests in Morocco chose consular representatives from the most powerful Jewish families in Essaouira : for example, Elmaleh for the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Corcos for the United States,18 rather than sending their own nationals to represent their countries, as did, for example, Britain and France.

  • 19 Mohammed Kenbib, Les Protégés (Rabat: Publications de la faculté des lettres et des sciences humain (...)

15As shown by Mohammed Kenbib, the system of protection became arguably the single-most vexing problem for the Makhzan,19 as the abusive expansion of extraterritorial rights of foreign powers was a direct assault on the sovereignty of the ‘Alawid dynasty. Furthermore, the symbolic strength of the dynasty was measured in its ability to protect and control the weak, ahl al-dhimma, which in the Maghreb meant the Jews.

  • 20 See the comments of Clancy-Smith, Mediterraneans, 199-202. This type of legal pluralism or “forum s (...)
  • 21 Daniel J. Schroeter, “From Dhimmis to Colonized Subjects: Moroccan Jews and the Sharifian and Frenc (...)

16This system might be interpreted as the unilateral imposition of imperialist power over a weaker country, a prelude to the colonization of the country. While from hindsight it can be shown that there was little that Morocco could do to prevent the expansion of protection, it could also be argued that the Makhzan was an active participant and contributor to this system. Consular jurisdiction interacted and overlapped in various ways with Makhzan justice, while individual protégés of foreign powers strategically appealed to competing legal authorities to optimize on the outcome of disputes.20 Many Jews in Essaouira who were protégés of foreign power, or who served as consular representatives themselves, also continued to maintain their close connection to the royal palace. The sultans relied on them as intermediaries and they, in turn, often sought redress from the Moroccan government while simultaneously using their ties to foreign powers to enhance their own interests. Clearly the Makhzan also saw the strategic importance of the connection even with the dangerous dismantling of sovereignty that such a system of protection implied.21

  • 22 André Chouraqui, La condition juridique de l’Israélite marocain (Paris, 1950), 60-62; Leland L. Bow (...)

17In the Madrid Convention of 1880, when the Moroccans met with the foreign powers to attempt to regulate the system of protection and curb its abuses (which it failed to do), a new concept was introduced. An article in the treaty established the principle of perpetual allegiance, implying some notion of nationality. It determined that Moroccans who became naturalized in foreign countries would again be considered Moroccans after the same amount of time that they had spent abroad had elapsed after their return to Morocco. This clause in the convention was a reflection of the phenomenon of Moroccan Jews obtaining, after a stay abroad, a foreign nationality, strategically sought and used upon their return to Morocco with a privileged status. This implied that one could be a “Moroccan,” whether Muslim or Jew, and that nationality was inalienable.22 While important for defining the distinction between foreigners and native Moroccans, Moroccan nationality did not imply any change in the Moroccan legal structure and was relevant in a very narrow sense : not having the privileges of foreign or protégé status. It certainly was unrelated to nationalism, or the development of a national identity. Ironically, the notion of perpetual, inalienable nationality first established in 1880, became a part of the Moroccan definition of citizenship, and has legitimized the return of Israeli Moroccan Jews, who might still be considered Moroccan by nationality.

  • 23 David Cazès, Essai sur l’histoire des Israélites de Tunisie (Paris: Librairie Armand Durlacher, 188 (...)
  • 24 Daniel J. Schroeter, The Sultan’s Jew: Morocco and the Sephardi World (Stanford: Stanford Universit (...)

18Tunisia presented a similar, but somewhat distinctive case. Jews in Tunisia in the period before the protectorate also sought to obtain the protection of foreign consulates, and the issue of protections and nationalities of Jews also embroiled the Husaynid government of Tunisia in disputes with the foreign powers, such as in the dispute over sumptuary laws. Mahmud Bey ordered all Jews, even those with foreign nationality and protection, to stop wearing European hats. A case involving a Jew of Tunisian origin who had become a British subject in Gibraltar, and upon returning to Tunis, refused to remove his European hat ; he was arrested, provoking a diplomatic crisis.23 Similar conflicts involving Gibraltarian Jews were occurring in Morocco in this period. Mawlay Sulayman attempted to ensure that British Jewish subjects of Moroccan origins be subject to dhimmi status and to prevent them from wearing European clothing. Efforts were made by the Moroccan authorities in Essaouira to impose an exit tax on Gibraltarian Jews leaving Morocco.24 These seemingly minor incidents, often led to major diplomatic disputes, the clash of plural systems of law and jurisdiction, nationality and dhimma.

  • 25 Sebag, Juifs de Tunisie, 110-112; Jacques Taïeb, Sociétés juives du Maghreb moderne (1500-1900) : U (...)
  • 26 Ibid, 180.

19The division between Twansa and Grana in Tunisia was a further indication of the complicated, contradictory and overlapping categories of identity, citizenship, and nationality. With the special status that Jews obtained in the Tuscan port of Livorno in the seventeenth century, Livornese Jews settled throughout the Mediterranean, of which Tunis was an important destination. They were virtually autonomous from the indigenous Twansa Jews, though they were considered as Tunisian subjects of the bey, according to the Tunisian-Tuscan treaty of 1822. However, as new Livornese Jews immigrated to Tunisia, it was agreed in 1846 that those coming after 1822, who were registered at the Tuscan consulate of Tunis, would retain their Tuscan nationality regardless of how long they stayed in the country. This served to encourage more immigration. Subsequently, and following Italian reunification, Jews who had come from other parts of Italy were considered Italian nationals. There were some 1,100 Jews who were registered as Italian nationals in the consulate of Italy around 1870. Some of the older Livornese family living in Tunisia for generations also became naturalized as Livornese and later as Italians after a stay in Livorno and returning with Italian nationality.25 After the establishment of the protectorate, the Franco-Italian conventions of 1896 reached an agreement that Italians in Tunisia would retain their nationality in perpetuity, passed down from father to son.26

  • 27 Taïeb, Sociétés juives, 55; Abdelhamid Larguèche, Les ombres de Tunis : Pauvres, marginaux et minor (...)
  • 28 Itshaq Avrahami, “La contribution des sources internes, hébraiques, judéo-arabes et arabes à l’hist (...)
  • 29 Sebag, Juifs de Tunisie, 180-184.
  • 30 Daniel Carpi, Between Mussolini and Hitler: The Jews and the Italian Authorities in France and Tuni (...)

20The closely guarded and privileged Italian status did not necessarily mean that the Grana rejected connections to other European countries. As in Morocco, in the period before the protectorate, increasing number of Tunisian Jews, usually indigenous Grana, became protégés or naturalized citizens of the major European powers, becoming British subjects in Gibraltar, or taking advantage of the Crémieux Decree in Algeria to become French citizens and listed as being of Algerian origin by the French consulate (whether of Tunisian or Algerian origin). The influence of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, was particularly important, and identification with France, the dominant power, would only increase during the Protectorate.27 Indeed, European countries, and the Jews themselves strategically chose nationality as a source of empowerment and some of the Livornese acquired French nationality, leading to a split within the Livornese community, reflecting French-Italian rivalry in Tunisia.28 From the early twentieth century, the French eased the naturalization of Tunisian Jews, in direct competition with the Italians who maintained close interests in the country.29 Still in the 1930s there were well over 3,000 Italian Jewish citizens in Tunisia, and very few had exchanged their Italian for French nationality, preferring to maintain their privileged position as agents of Italian interests in Tunisia. For this reason as well, the Italian authorities endeavored to prevent the anti-Semitic Jewish statutes imposed by the Vichy government in Tunisia on Italian Jewish citizens, which would undermine Italian interests in the French protectorate.30

21The actual lived experience of the Jews of the Maghreb under colonialism thus reveals that national identities were not that fixed, often contingent on circumstances, and far more ambiguous than the labeling by countries would suggest. Political and geographical boundaries were also quite porous, while Jewish communities maintained relationships across political frontiers in the Maghreb, and with migrant communities in other countries, from Europe to Latin America.

  • 31 The emigration of Jews of Tetuan and the maintenance of a “Tetuani” identity has been explored in a (...)

22The northern Moroccan town of Tetuan is perhaps the most illustrative example of a migratory community. Immigrants from Tetuan were found in Gibraltar, and were among the most important elements in the reconstitution of Jewish community in Portugal, even before the formal ending of the Inquisition and the ban on Jews. Others went to Spain, Livorno, and London. Many also settled in Latin America, which was another important destination : Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Jews from other port cities as well, from Tunis, Tangier to Essaouira, were to be found in all of these locations.31

  • 32 Ayoun, “Les Tétouanais à Oran d’après des souvenirs de famille;” Richard Ayoun, “Les Juifs d’Oran d (...)

23Jews from Tetuan were dispersed throughout Western Algeria, a destination that dates back at least the latter half of the 18th century. After the evacuation of Oran by the Spanish in 1792, the bey, Muhammad al-Kabir, sought to repopulate the city, attracting along with Muslims a significant Jewish population. Jews came from all over Western Algeria and Eastern Morocco (including Oujda, Debdou, Tafilalet), but also from Tetuan in large numbers. Coincidentally, the persecution of the Jews during the short-lived reign of Mawlay Yazid, in which the community of Tetuan suffered greatly, caused many Jews to seek refuge in Algeria ; Tlemcen may have been the first destination, and from there, many resettled in the newly restored town of Oran. Other Jews from Morocco settled in Oran via Gibraltar. The emigration of Jews from Morocco continued after the French conquest of Algeria, perhaps in even greater numbers than before. Again, the Jews from Tetuan formed a significant part of the Jewish community of Oran, a city that competed with Algiers for the largest Jewish community in Algeria, and communities of Tetuani Jews were found elsewhere in Western Algeria, in Mascara, Sidi-Bel-Abbès, Aïn-Témouchent, etc.32

24The new national boundaries established by colonial conquest, however, did little to change a process of migration that had been initiated earlier. Spain’s war and occupation of Tetuan in 1859-1860 caused more Jews to emigrate to Western Algeria, to Oran, Mascara, and Sidi Bel-Abbès, and other places. The “Moroccan” Jews in Algeria (as they were known) continued to maintain distinctive customs and a separate identity, sometimes coming into conflict with the “native” Jews. After the implementation of the consistorial system in Algeria, an instrument for enforcing the reduced competence of rabbinical jurisdiction, Moroccan rabbis who had obtained leadership positions in local Algerian communities, sometimes contested authority and control with the appointed consistorial rabbis and officials, which was the case in Oran, Mascara, Tiaret, etc. Thus, their identity as “Moroccan” or Tetuani, was reinforced, ironically even if they later acquired French nationality, following the Crémieux Decree of 1870 or after a law was passed in 1889 that was designed to encourage foreign residents of France (which included Algeria), by easing naturalization and removing certain legal privileges that foreigners previously enjoyed.

25Thus, the different timing of colonialism in the Maghreb in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the distinctive legal status granted to the Jews by the colonial regimes in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, contributing to a complicated web of relations across the political frontiers. Seeking commercial opportunities, foreign protection, the acquisition of citizenship, or religious training, Jews would migrate across the countries of the Maghreb, or elsewhere in the Mediterranean and Europe : Gibraltar, Livorno, Marseilles, London, etc.

  • 33 Pinqas ha-qehilot: Libya, Tunisia, ed. Irit Abramsky-Bligh (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1997) ; Abraham (...)
  • 34 Yvette Katan, Oujda, Une ville frontière du Maroc (1907-1956) : Musulmans, Juifs et Chrétiens en mi (...)

26New or developing colonial towns, under the colonial economy, were frequently composed of Jewish migrants, the result of internal migration or movement across political frontiers. Jerban Jews, for example, migrated to and dominated various communities in southern and western Tunisia, especially Medinine, Matmata ,Ben Gardane, Zarzis, and Tozeur—forming in effect satellite communities of Hara Kebira, the principal Jewish community on the island of Jerba ; while other Jerban Jews settled in Benghazi and Tripoli.33 Algerian Jews were prominent in Casablanca, where they founded the Beth-El Synagogue. In Eastern Morocco, the Jewish community of Oujda was composed of many “Algerians” of French nationality. The rabbis of Oujda frequently received their ordination in Tlemcen, and the Jewish community of Maghnia (or Marnia) in northwestern Algeria near the Moroccan frontier was composed largely of Jews from Oujda. Marital strategies also reflected both inter-communal ties and differing systems produced by colonial frontiers, with frequent intermarriages between Jews from Morocco and Algeria. For example, arranged marriages between the Jews of Oujda and Maghnia in Western Algeria were frequent. There were also some cases of pregnant Moroccan women migrating to Maghnia to give birth on Algerian soil, allowing them to make a claim for French citizenship.34

27The development of centralized Jewish institutions in Tunisia and Morocco on a national scale during the colonial period solidified a certain sense of belonging to a country defined by political boundaries. Yet as these examples of migration illustrate, national boundaries did not constitute fixed identities and local identities easily crossed regional and national frontiers. There is a paradox here that is apparent in the post-colonial period. While scholars seek to explain the “imagined community” that accompanies the development of the nation state, the consolidation of Jewish identity as Moroccans, Tunisians and Algerians was accompanied by the distancing from the emerging nation states in the Maghreb. These identities with the countries of origins were further reinforced in the diasporas of Maghrebi Jews after the independence of the Maghreb, and with the disappearance or near disappearance of organized Jewish community life in these countries. The labeling of Jews from their places of origin in France and Israel has served to differentiate segments of society, establishing a kind of “fixed” identity, but one that conceals a more ambiguous identity, connected to a long history of migration and inter-communal ties that transcended political frontiers.

Notes

1 Daniel J. Schroeter, «The Shifiting Boundaries of Moroccan Jewish Identities,» Jewish Social Studies, 15, 1 (2008): 145-164.

2 Ibid., 157. On sub-ethnic categories of Jews in the Eastern Mediterranean, see Matthias B. Lehmann, « Rethinking Sephardi Identity: Jews and Other Jews in Ottoman Palestine,» Jewish Social Studies, 15, 1 (2008): 81-109.

3 The mille ans edition was published by G.-P. Maisonneuve et Larose in 1983; the deux mille ans edition dates from 1998, also published in Casablanca by Eddif.

4 Mille ans, 11.

5 Richard Ayoun and Bernard Cohen, Les Juifs d’Algérie : 2000 ans d’histoire (Paris: Jean-Claude Lattès, 1982), 223.

6 Ibid., 8.

7 Paul Sebag, Histoire des Juifs de Tunisie : des origines à nos jours (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1991), 309-310.

8 For an approach that stresses trans-Mediterranean migrations and the fluidity across borders, see the recent study by Julia A. Clancy-Smith, Mediterraneans: North Africa and Europe in an Age of Migration, c. 1800-1900 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).

9 On the Crémieux Decree, see Steven Uran. «Crémieux Decree.» Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World (Leiden: Brill, 2010). More generally, on the process of “emancipation” of Algerian Jews, see Michel Abitbol, Le Passé d’une discorde : Juifs et Arabes du VIIe siècle à nos jours (Paris, 1999), 152-166; Pierre Birnbaum, “French Jews and the “Regeneration” of Algerian Jewry,” Studies in Contempoary Jewry, 19 (2003) 88-95; and Ayoun and Cohen, Les Juifs d’Algérie, 119-149.

10 See especially Joshua Schreier, Arabs of the Jewish Faith: The Civilizing Mission in Colonial Algeria (Rutgers University Press, 2010).

11 Daniel J. Schroeter and Joseph Chetrit, «Emancipation and its Discontents: Jews at the Formative Period of Colonial Rule in Morocco,» Jewish Social Studies, 13, 1 (2006): 171, 174-175, 179, 187-188.

12 For a discussion of the developing concept of “Moroccan Jewry,” see Jessica Marglin, “Modernizing Moroccan Jews: The AIU Alumni Association in Tangier, 1893-1913,” Jewish Quarterly Review (forthcoming)

13 For the Alliance israélite universelle expanding influence in Morocco, see Michael M. Laskier, The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Jewish Communities of Morocco, 1862-1962 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983).

14 Sarah Leivovici, Chronique des Juifs de Tétouan (1860-1896) (Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose, 1984).

15 Isabelle Rohr, The Spanish Right and the Jews, 1898-1945: Antisemitism and Opportunism (Brighton, UK: Sussex Academic Press, 2007), 19-25; Sharon Vance, “Sol Hachuel, ‘Heroine of the Nineteenth Century’: Gender, the Jewish Question, and Colonial Discourse,” in Jewish Society and Culture in North Africa, ed. Emily Benichou Gottreich and Daniel J. Schroeter (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010), 205-207, 217-218; “Mohammed Kenbib, Juifs et Musulmands au Maroc, 1859-1948 (Rabat: Université Mohammed V, Publication de la faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines, 1994), 448-458; Isaac Guershon, “The Foundation of Hispano-Jewish Associations in Morocco: Contrasting Portraits of Tangier and Tetuan,” in Sephardi and Middle Eastern Jewries: History and Culture in the Modern Era, ed. Harvey E. Goldberg (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996), 181-189.

16 On Moroccan Jews becoming British subjects in Gibraltar or England, see Jean Louis Miège, Le Maroc et l’Europe, 1830-1894, 4 vols. (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1961-63), vol. 2, 574-578. See the list of English subjects in Essaouira in 1871 in Jean-Louis Miège, Documents d’histoire économique et sociale marocaine au xixe siècle (Paris: Éditions du Centre national de la recherche scientifique, 1969), 159-163.

17 On Moroccan Jews becoming naturalized in Algeria and then returning to Morocco, see Miège, Le Maroc et l’Europe, 2: 674-677; Kenbib, Juifs et Musulmans au Maroc, 249-252, 66-71, 240-252.

18 Daniel J. Schroeter, Merchants of Essaouira: Urban Society and Imperialism in Southwestern Morocco, 1884-1886 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 34-46; idem, “Anglo-Jewry and Essaouira (Mogador), 1860-1900: The Social Implications of Philanthropy,” Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, 28 (1984): 80-83.

19 Mohammed Kenbib, Les Protégés (Rabat: Publications de la faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines, Université Mohamed V, 1996).

20 See the comments of Clancy-Smith, Mediterraneans, 199-202. This type of legal pluralism or “forum shopping” in Morocco is examined in detail by Jessica Marglin (doctoral dissertation in progress).

21 Daniel J. Schroeter, “From Dhimmis to Colonized Subjects: Moroccan Jews and the Sharifian and French Colonial State,” Studies in Contemporary Jewry, 19, Jews and the State: Dangerous Alliances and the Perils of Privilege, ed. Ezra Mendelsohn (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 110-112

22 André Chouraqui, La condition juridique de l’Israélite marocain (Paris, 1950), 60-62; Leland L. Bowie, “An Aspect of Muslim-Jewish Relations in Late-Nineteenth-Century Morocco: A European Diplomatic View,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 7 (1976): 5-6.

23 David Cazès, Essai sur l’histoire des Israélites de Tunisie (Paris: Librairie Armand Durlacher, 1888), 144-46 ; Jean Ganiage, Les origines du protectorat français en Tunisie, 1861-1881 (Paris: Presses universitaires de France 1959), 50 ; Clancy-Smith, Mediterraneans, 58-59, Richard Ayoun, “Les Juifs livournais en Afrique du Nord,” La Rassegna mensile di Israel, 50 (1984): 682-83.

24 Daniel J. Schroeter, The Sultan’s Jew: Morocco and the Sephardi World (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002), 88-89; Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984).

25 Sebag, Juifs de Tunisie, 110-112; Jacques Taïeb, Sociétés juives du Maghreb moderne (1500-1900) : Un monde en mouvement (Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose, 2000), 55.

26 Ibid, 180.

27 Taïeb, Sociétés juives, 55; Abdelhamid Larguèche, Les ombres de Tunis : Pauvres, marginaux et minorités aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles (Tunis: Centre de Publication Universitaire), 370-371; Abdelkrim Allagui, “L’État colonial et les Juifs de Tunisie de 1881 à 1914,” Archives juives, 32, 1 (1999): 32-39.

28 Itshaq Avrahami, “La contribution des sources internes, hébraiques, judéo-arabes et arabes à l’histoire des juifs livournais à Tunis,” La Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 50 (1984): 733-734.

29 Sebag, Juifs de Tunisie, 180-184.

30 Daniel Carpi, Between Mussolini and Hitler: The Jews and the Italian Authorities in France and Tunisia (Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press, Published by University Press of New England, 1994), 203-227.

31 The emigration of Jews of Tetuan and the maintenance of a “Tetuani” identity has been explored in a number of articles by Richard Ayoun, “La précarité d’un refuge: l’émigration des Juifs tétouanais (1790-1860), in Présence juive au Maghreb, ed. Nicole Serfaty and Joseph Tedghi (Saint-Denis: Bouchène, 2004), 51-67. “Les Tétouanais à Oran d’après des souvenirs de famille,” in Mosaïques de notre mémoire, les Judéo-Espanols du Maroc (Paris: Centre d’études Don Isaac Abravanel, UISF, 1982), 195-218 ; “Quelques cérémonies des Juifs tétouanais en oranie au XIXe siècle et au début du XXe siècle”, La Rassegna mensile di Israel, 49 (1983): 269-297.

32 Ayoun, “Les Tétouanais à Oran d’après des souvenirs de famille;” Richard Ayoun, “Les Juifs d’Oran dans les années 1850,” in Mélanges offerts à Charles Leselbaum (Paris: Éditions Hispaniques, 2002), 69-89; Saddeq Benkada, “A Moment in Sephardi History: The Reestablishment of the Jewish Community of Oran, 1792-1831,” in Jewish Society and Culture in North Africa, 172-173.

33 Pinqas ha-qehilot: Libya, Tunisia, ed. Irit Abramsky-Bligh (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1997) ; Abraham Udovitch and Lucette Valensi, The Last Arab Jews: The Communities of Jerba, Tunisia (Chur; New York: Harwood Academic, 1984), 20, 29-30, 48, 104.

34 Yvette Katan, Oujda, Une ville frontière du Maroc (1907-1956) : Musulmans, Juifs et Chrétiens en milieu colonial (Paris: Éditions L’Harmattan, 1990), 482-483, 489-490.

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University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

© Centre Jacques-Berque, 2012

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