Waiting for Vichy: Europeans and Jews in North Africa on the Eve of World War II
Antisemitism was rife among Europeans in Algeria, since the Jews were granted French citizenship in 1870. In the 1930s Arab animosity also flared into overt hatred of Jews leading to the Constantine pogrom in 1934. Many right-wing leaders embraced Fascism. Economic boycott of Jews was a favorite weapon. In the French protectorates of Morocco and Tunisia, the Jews found themselves in a similar situation resulting from collusion between the French extreme Right, Arab nationalism, and German-Italian propaganda. Libya enjoyed relative freedom from severe anti-Jewish legislation by Italy until 1940. North African Jewry demonstrated great patriotism when France went to war against Germany. As the French army stumbled to defeat in Europe, Muslim and European anti-Jewish agitation again surfaced in North Africa. The Muslims welcomed the fall of France perceiving it as a blow to France’s colonial aspirations. The Europeans welcomed Petain’s agreement to an armistice with the Germans and considered the Jews an anti-government force for not supporting Petain, and because they preferred to ally themselves with England. The Jews were even accused of being responsible for the fall of France.