It is exactly 50 years, on 11 December 1960, since Algerian Arabs attacked the Great Synagogue in Algiers. They had been incensed by the visit of General de Gaulle and violence by the 'pieds-noirs' (Algerians of French descent) and the OAS. The Algerian Jews had hitherto tried to remain studiedly neutral between the FLN fighters for independence and the pro-French paramilitary (OAS). Now they understood that their bread was buttered on the French side. Two years later, almost the entire Algierian Jewish community fled, nearly all to France.Here is how AP reported it:
"What better way of expressing weakness and cowardice than by attacking the greatest symbol of Algerian Judaism, hitherto always respected and untouched, in the heart of the Casbah," write Albert Bensoussan and Julien Zenouda.
They go on to describe the scene: " In the centre of the old city, Jews and Arabs had always lived in harmony. The Jews came and went among them without fear. We spoke the same language, they respected us and we had esteem and affection for them. They entered the holy place and went on the rampage, tore the memorial plaques off the walls, ripped up the symbols of our faith, sullied books and Torah scrolls, emptied the lockers where people stored tallit, tephilin and prayer books, and torched everything.
"The (French) Paras then came with their red berets, occupied the place, camped on the floor of our Temple, ate, drank and fornicated with the clear conscience of soldiers, and, adding insult to injury, set up a Christmas tree. "
Muslims attacked Jews, whom they lived with in peace for years. The usual, tired excuse - Zionism - is entirely absent from this story. They were angry at the French - and took their anger out on Jews, the easy to find and weak neighbors.