The Jews Who Helped the Allies Take Algeria

In 1942, Allied forces invading Algeria, then under the control of Vichy France, cooperated with a group of mostly Jewish local resistance fighters. The story is the subject of a new Israeli film, Night of Fools, directed by Rami Kimchi. Eliezer Hayon explains:

“The [Algerian] underground numbered 800 fighters, half of them Jewish. But at the moment of truth, 400 of them had cold feet, and just 400 were left—almost all of them Jewish,” says [one of their commanders, Jacques] Zermati. They were led by José Aboulker, the Jewish head of the underground. . . .

The plan was simple, yet almost surreal: Allied forces would land on the coast of north-western Africa, and the underground would take care of paralyzing the regime’s troops in order to hand over the city of Algiers to the Allies. It might sound simple enough, until one takes into account the fact that there were just 400 underground fighters, and 200,000 Vichy and Axis soldiers.

How did they do it? The resistance, with the help of some sympathetic Vichy officers, disguised themselves as French troops and succeeded in rounding up the entire French garrison without firing a shot. And why did they do it? Kimchi’s answer:

“The Jews in Algeria were proud of their French citizenship, and even today they live in France. But the film shows that Jewish motivation was a dominant factor. This was a war against the fascists, but what motivated them was not just French identity, otherwise they would have withdrawn like the other 400 fighters.”

Read more at Ynet

More about: Algeria, History & Ideas, Mizrahi Jewry, Resistance, Vichy France, World War II

The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy