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Why the Jews of North Africa Had to Wait

In declining to restore the rights of North African Jews in the wake of their 1942 invasion, did the Allies act with “deceit and duplicity,” or were their reasons defensible?

A British infantry patrol following retreating German forces at El Alamein, Egypt in November 1942. Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images.

A British infantry patrol following retreating German forces at El Alamein, Egypt in November 1942. Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images.

Response
Oct. 23 2017
About the author

Michael R. Marrus is the Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe professor emeritus of Holocaust studies at the University of Toronto. Among his books are Vichy France and the Jews (1981, co-authored with Robert O. Paxton) and, most recently, Lessons of the Holocaust (2016).


Robert Satloff’s essay in Mosaic on American policy toward the Jews during and after the Allied North Africa campaign in the autumn of 1942 is a story of betrayal. As he relates, a handful of Algerian Jews played a decisive role in the huge November 1942 invasion of the region, facilitating the seizure of the city of Algiers in an early-morning uprising conducted by a heroic underground of over 300 Jewish fighters. But, Satloff goes on to argue, the Americans failed to use their successful seizure of North African territory to alleviate the plight of Jews who had suffered under the previous, collaborationist, Vichy-directed French authorities.

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