Jews and France in Tunisia

The Advantages of a Ternary Relationship
By Claude Hagège, Bernard Zarca

The Jews and France in Tunisia. The advantages of a ternary relationship.

Although tolerated by the Moslems, as this was the case all over the Ottoman Empire, the Jews of Tunisia were symbolically dominated. Therefore they tried, since the middle of the 19th century, to obtain an improvement of their status from the European nations there present, notably from France who established a protectorate over the country in 1881. This article analyses how and why, on the whole, the Jews, willing to take advantage of the new context of a ternary relationship, were not successful in claiming political rights and a new legal status, but how, nevertheless, the French presence radically modified their social and cultural condition. This was done by providing education for children in the educational establishments of the Alliance Israélite Universelle as well as in French public schools, and led to a fast upward social mobility and to a way of life very close to the French one. This cultural change spread to such an extent that, after Tunisia got its independence and the conflictual events of the Bizerte war between France and Tunisia, in 1961, and the 1967 war between Israel and the Arabic countries took place, nearly all of them left the country, half towards Israel, half towards France.

Go to the article on