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jmm1956
Aug 22, 2019
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I read a book called "Merchants of Oran" by Joshua Schreier. which describes Oran before the French got there and when they got there in the 1830s.  The point of the book is that, unlike the accepted notion that the French brought civilization to the Jews of Algeria, the Jews  in Oran were powerful and really built the city and its port. in large part because of their inportance to the Briish in supplying needed goods to Gibraltar.   In 1832, when the French arrived. Oran  had 3,800 inhabitants -- 730 Europeans, 250 Muslims and 2,876 Jews. https://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/12083203 Here is a summary from the publisher: The Mer­chants of Oran weaves togeth­er the his­to­ry of a Mediter­ranean port city with the lives of Oran’s Jew­ish mer­can­tile elite dur­ing the tran­si­tion to French colo­nial rule. Through the life of Jacob Las­ry and oth­er influ­en­tial Jew­ish mer­chants, Joshua Schreier tells the sto­ry of how this diverse and fierce­ly divid­ed group both respond­ed to, and in turn influ­enced, French colo­nial­ism in Algeria.Jacob Las­ry and his cohort estab­lished them­selves in Oran in the decades after the Regency of Algiers dis­lodged the Span­ish in 1792, dur­ing a peri­od of rel­a­tive tol­er­ance and eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty. In new­ly-Mus­lim Oran, Jew­ish mer­chants found oppor­tu­ni­ties to ply their trades, deal­ing in both imports and exports. On the eve of France’s long and bru­tal inva­sion of Alge­ria, Oran owed much of its com­mer­cial vital­i­ty to the suc­cess of these Jew­ish merchants.Under French occu­pa­tion, the mer­chants of Oran main­tained their com­mer­cial, polit­i­cal, and social clout. Yet by the 1840s, French poli­cies began col­laps­ing Oran’s diverse Jew­ish inhab­i­tants into a sin­gle social cat­e­go­ry, legal­ly sep­a­rat­ing Jews from their Mus­lim neigh­bors and cre­at­ing a racial hier­ar­chy. Schreier argues that France’s exclu­sion­ary pol­i­cy of ​“eman­ci­pa­tion,” far more than old­er antipathies, plant­ed the seeds of twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry rup­tures between Mus­lims and Jews.
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