A Story of North Africa
At long last we removed the iron bars and came out of our barricaded houses. The streets were somnolent after our sleepless nights, the air tasted of ash, and a weird yellow light flashed through purple clouds and lit up our tired faces. A few useless and indifferent patrols of Negro soldiers ambled around. Occasionally, the police also showed up—when everything was over. Our main thirst was easily quenched as uncertain and contradictory bits of news poured in. Bissor was among the dead. About the corpses there could be no doubt. There was no possible mistake: Bissor was dead, and all his family had been murdered, except the prostitute sister who had been lucky enough to be away in Marseille. I am sure that Bissor had fought back wildly with his big hard fists. As for the rest, will we ever be able to understand? It was said that the Moslem infantry had been called to the front and that, before being shipped off to slaughter, they had felt, as warriors for whom all is right, that they could get away with anything. Tradition admitted that they could rob, rape, or kill as they pleased. Of course, they chose to descend on the Jewish quarter. Others maintained that the pogrom had been fomented by the government, as a trick to divert attention from its political difficulties, and that all the Jewish soldiers had received orders to remain in their barracks. The coincidence indeed seemed incredible. Perhaps the disaster, after all, had started in some silly way, with a quarrel between a Jewish shopkeeper and an Arab customer in a town of the South; it had then led to a fight between the Moslems of the neighborhood and any passing Jews, and had spread from there to neighboring towns, finally setting the whole country ablaze.
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