Commentary Magazine


Algerian Nationalism

To the Editor:

In the exchange of letters in your February number between Mr. Maurice Goldbloom and Mr. Maurice Carr on the subject of the latter’s article, “Algeria After the Referendum” (December), Mr. Carr cites the Encyclopaedia Britannica . . . as the source of much of his “information.” . . . As far as Algeria is concerned, the Encyclopaedia relies entirely upon information supplied by the French; this one-sided information in no way meets the accepted standards of objectivity and honesty. . . .

However, there is one point which is not merely erroneous, but a . . . distortion and misrepresentation of the truth. The Algerians, living in a revolutionary climate, and engaged in a bitter struggle for their liberty and independence, consider their fellow countrymen regardless of race or religion, as Algerians. It is, in fact, a remarkable proof of the political maturity of the population that they have avoided the many provocations organized by the French to create an issue of religious strife among fellow Algerians. It is well known that actions of anti-Semitic origin come rather from the European ultras, whose past activities as supporters of Pétain and Vichy have given them ample practice. . . . We do not know where Mr. Carr has found the “statistics” he cites in this connection, and we would challenge him to prove the truth of his statements. . . . Even the French authorities have now been forced to abandon their propaganda on this matter.

Moreover, many of the members of the Jewish community in Algeria are active in the nationalist movement, and it is enough to glance at the list of names of those sentenced by French tribunals for their nationalist activities to see that Jewish Algerians are included among those paying for the liberation of their country.

A. Chanderli
Representative, Algerian F.L.N.
New York City

_____________

 

Mr. Carr writes:

Mr. Chanderli queries the casualty figures I have given for the Jews in Algeria. The source of these statistics is a thoroughly reliable Algerian Jewish organization, whose leaders hold very liberal ideas about the need for Algerian emancipation and certainly have no illusions about the anti-Semitic European ultras. There exist carefully compiled lists of Jews killed or wounded by F.L.N, terrorists in Algeria, and these can be published, if necessary. It is true that some Jews actively support the F.L.N. It is also true that F.L.N, killers have—for reasons which it is up to the F.L.N. leadership to explain and excuse—claimed a disproportionately large number of Jewish victims. Unfortunately the F.L.N. has its fascists of the pan-Arab school just as the European settlers have their fascists of the Pétainist school, and the sooner the fascists in both camps are overpowered, the sooner innocent blood will cease to flow and peace with justice will come to Algeria. If that is what Mr. Chanderli aspires to, then there is no fundamental difference of opinion between us. We certainly do not agree in our reading of past history; but what counts is the present and future.

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