Zohra Drif’s memoir of Algeria’s fight for freedom is stunning

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Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter

By Zohra Drif. With an introduction by Lakhdar Brahimi. Translated from the French by Andrew G. Farrand.

Just World Books, $29.95, ebook $27.95.

Anyone who has seen the classic film “The Battle of Algiers” will remember the mesmerizing segment in which three Algerian women put on European dresses and makeup, leave the Casbah, the Muslim quarter, and go down into the colonial zone carrying picnic baskets that contain bombs. To the sound of a drumroll, they pass through French military checkpoints, enter restaurants and an airline office, and leave their baskets behind. The timed explosions kill several and wound many more.

Zohra Drif, who wrote this stunning memoir, was a 22-year-old law student back in 1956, when she left a bomb at the Milk Bar on the Rue D’Isly. Her account is a vital addition to a sparse literature: the Algerian side of the 1954-62 war for independence, in which up to one million Algerians died before France was forced to leave its colony.

Inside the Battle of Algiers has tremendous relevance today for Israel/Palestine. Zohra Drif shows clearly that even though France had occupied her country for 124 years when the fight for freedom broke out, the Algerian people had remained faithful to their own culture and history, and were willing to fight to the death to win their independence.

Anyone who believes that Israel’s occupation of Palestine can last forever must read this book.

Zohra Drif at a reading at NYU on Sept. 21, 2017. Scholar William Quandt is at left. Translator Andrew Farrand is at right.

Inside the Battle of Algiers has everything: it is the autobiography of the first part of the life of a remarkable woman; an insight into vital historical events; a first-hand view on the ethics of revolutionary violence; and a page-turning true adventure story. Zohra Drif has been well-served by her translator, Andrew Farrand, who lives in Algiers and is fluent in both French and Arabic.

Zohra Drif (her first name is “Sarah” in Arabic) was born in 1934 into a relatively-privileged Muslim Algerian family. Her father, an enlightened scholar and judge, sent her to a colonial primary school, where she was the only “native” girl in the class; later she would be one of 4 “natives” (out of 2000) at her high school in Algiers, the capital. When the independence war broke out, one out of 10 of the people who lived in Algeria were “colons,” colonists, who ran an apartheid system that had stolen the land of the native Algerians, segregated them with no political rights, and routinely called them “melons” and “rats.” Zohra Drif is still angry today as she recalls that even after more than a century as a colony, less than 10 per cent of her people attended school.

After years of trying to win a path to independence by peaceful means, in 1954 the FLN, the National Liberation Front, launched an armed struggle. Zohra Drif was by then a law student (one of 6 Algerians out of 200). She and one of her classmates, Samia Lakhdari, immediately tried to find a way to contact the clandestine liberation movement. After a couple of amusing false starts, the two young women do connect with the FLN, and they leave their law school dormitory to go underground up in the Casbah. Zohra Drif’s memoir includes lengthy, vivid portraits of legendary figures in the independence struggle: Larbi Ben M’Hidi, one of the original FLN leaders, who would be captured and then murdered by the French; Yacef Saadi, who coordinated the armed resistance in Algiers itself; and Ali la Pointe, a former petty criminal who joined the struggle in prison and is one of the heroes of the film.

Samia Lakhdari. (Photo: Just World Books)

Zohra Drif emphasizes that the FLN’s escalating revolutionary violence came only after terrible crimes by the French army and their colonist allies: mass killings; gang rapes; execution of Algerian political prisoners; torture, which sometimes actually happened inside Casbah homes, in front of family members; colon lynchings of innocent Algerian bystanders; and violent efforts to break the peaceful 8-day general strike in early 1957. She witnessed some of these events, and she still has nightmares, 60 years later.

She and Samia Lakhdari carried out their own bombings as a response to an especially cruel French attack. On August 10, 1956, colonial agents planted a huge bomb in the upper Casbah, which killed more than 70 Algerians. The FLN decided to strike back by taking the fight to the colon areas, which had been peaceful until then. Zohra Drif writes:

Perhaps the reader of today expects me to regret having placed bombs in public places frequented by European civilians. I do not. To do so would be to obscure the central problem of settler colonialism by trying to pass off the European civilians of the day for (at best) mere tourists visiting Algeria or (at worst) the ‘natural’ inheritors of our land in place of its legitimate children.

Zohra Drif and Samia Lakhdari, thanks to their French educations, could recite Article 35 of the 1793 Declaration of the Rights of Man by heart:

When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people and for each portion of the people the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties.

Zohra Drif put on makeup for the first time, to improve her chances of passing through French army checkpoints, picked out a European dress, and started off with her picnic basket:

Today I have trouble recalling that walk. . .  Human existence seems to be to be interspersed with moments of such intensity and such violence that in truth we live them as if they weren’t real, or as if we were drugged. I have lived these moments but have never known how to describe them.

She objects to calling the struggle in Algiers in 1956 a “battle,” a term she points out was chosen by the French occupiers, not the Algerians themselves:

What cowardice, to call it a ‘battle,’ this operation carried out by the army, the police, and their torturers against a people unprotected by any law or any rights — a long war of ethnic cleansing right in the capital.

Arrest of Zohra Drif, 1957

She and the band of independence fighters managed to hide out in the Casbah for nearly a year afterward, protected by the local people. Her memoir is as gripping as any thriller, as she describes hideouts carved out of walls in the Casbah, raids by French paratroopers, and flights across rooftops to the next safe place. Finally the French paratroopers torture enough Algerians to locate her and Yacef Saadi. One of the book’s photos shows her just after she was arrested, a slight, defiant young woman in a sleeveless blouse, surrounded by large, armed French soldiers.

This book ends here. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison at hard labor. She served five of them, and was only released as part of the general amnesty at Algeria’s independence in July 1962. Today, she is 83 years old, but still vigorous, and she wants to write another book, to continue the largely untold story of the Algerian side of the fight for freedom:

My hope now is to have the energy and strength to deliver my testimonial — to our youth — about my years in detention alongside dozens of sisters, about the euphoria of independence and then the difficult work of building our country, Inchallah, if God grants me life.”

Postscript: Zohra Drif will be doing several appearances on the east coast in coming days.

Friday, Sept. 29, 6:15 pm, NYC: Mme. Drif will be co-hosted by Columbia University’s Middle East Institute and Maison Francaise for a book talk and discussion, to be held in the Jerome Greene Annex– behind Wien Hall; access from 116th St between Amsterdam Av & Morningside Drive. 

Sunday, Oct. 1, 6 pm, NYC: Mme. Drif will be honored at a Palestinian-American community event and film screening at Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Av (also in the East Village.) Details here. 

Monday, Oct. 2, 4pm, Cambridge, MA: Book talk & discussion at Harvard’s Kennedy School (Taubman Bldg, Allison Dining Room, 5th Floor.) Followed at 5:30 pm by a book signing at the Harvard Coop Bookstore. 

Wed., Oct. 4, 12 pm, Medford, MA: Book talk & discussion at Tufts University’s Fares Center (Fletcher School Building.) Lunch provided. Details below. 

 

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67 Responses

  1. Jackdaw
    September 28, 2017, 11:56 am

    Zohra Drif went to the Milk Bar, a popular ‘soda fountain’ where French kids went to flirt, listen to music and dance. Zohra timed her bomb for when the cafe would be busiest, 6:30 p.m. She left the cafe and the bomb detonated and killed a French kid and wounded 30 more.

    Zohra’s accomplice planted a similar device at killed 2 more French kids that day.

    Did Martin Luther King plant bombs? Would Jesus have killed those kids?

    Does anyone know the names of the kids Zohra murdered?

    • eljay
      September 28, 2017, 12:53 pm

      || Jackdaw: … Would Jesus have killed those kids? … ||

      Dunno, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have spent almost 70 years (and counting) stealing, occupying and colonizing geographic Palestine and oppressing, torturing and killing Palestinians in order to ensure the continued viability of as large as possible a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

      • Jackdaw
        September 28, 2017, 1:31 pm

        Jesus lived during a very bloody period, when the native Jews wanted the Roman occupiers out of Judea.

        Jesus didn’t murder.

      • eljay
        September 28, 2017, 1:57 pm

        || Jackdaw: … Jesus didn’t murder. ||

        Sez you. He – god – did murder a poor fig tree that had never done any harm to anyone.

        But it sounds like you’re suggesting that while he didn’t murder he would be OK with stealing, occupying, colonizing, oppressing, torturing and killing. Interersting.

      • amigo
        September 28, 2017, 3:54 pm

        “But it sounds like you’re suggesting that while he didn’t murder he would be OK with stealing, occupying, colonizing, oppressing, torturing and killing. Interersting.” eljay.

        Not interesting at all.Zionists claim they are simply carrying out the wishes of God as described in the Bible.He/She/It allows them to continue to act in His/Her/It,s name so the blame lies with this , all powerful God.

      • Mooser
        September 28, 2017, 7:11 pm

        “Jesus didn’t murder.”

        I hope “catalan” sees that. It’ll make him feel even better.

    • eljay
      September 28, 2017, 1:49 pm

      || Jackdaw: … Would Jesus have killed those kids?

      Does anyone know the names of the kids Zohra murdered? ||

      Dunno, but God did kill countless children during the Great Flood and then again in Egypt. Does anyone know the names of all the kids God murdered?

      • Tuyzentfloot
        September 28, 2017, 2:22 pm

        Dunno, but God did kill countless children during the Great Flood and then again in Egypt.

        It’s well established that the people from after the Great Flood are a lot less smart, because of all the inbreeding.

    • Keith
      September 28, 2017, 4:40 pm

      JACKDAW- “Did Martin Luther King plant bombs?”

      Did pre-state Zionist terrorists plant bombs in Palestinian marketplaces? Did Zionists commit mass-murder at Deir Yassin to send a message?

      • JeffB
        September 28, 2017, 6:52 pm

        @Keith

        Did Zionists commit mass-murder at Deir Yassin to send a message?

        I think most of the evidence supports the Irgun’s version of events. The Irgun took a village that was harboring enemy forces, located in a key strategic location at the minimum possible loss of life given the relative strengths (and experience) of the combatants.

        The Arab version of events has many problems that need to be explained. But the key two:
        a) If the Irgun’s goal was extermination and not conquest why did they leave a road open to allow civilians to flee?

        b) If the Irgun’s goal was extermination why did they hand POWs over to the British and not just kill them?

      • Talkback
        September 28, 2017, 11:02 pm

        JeffB: “The Irgun took a village that was harboring enemy forces, located in a key strategic location at the minimum possible loss of life given the relative strengths (and experience) of the combatants. ”

        Dr. Engel: “It was clear that they (the attackers) had gone from house to house and shot the people at close range.”

        Meir Pail: “I saw groups of Etzel and Lehi people going from house to house and shooting with Tommy (guns) everyone they found in them. During the operation I did not sense any difference between the behavior of Etzel and Lehi people. I saw almost no men (Arabs) – I assume mose of them ran away at the beginning of the battle – but mostly women, old people and children. They were murdered in groups; they crowded them into corners of rooms and shot off rounds at them.”

      • Jackdaw
        September 29, 2017, 1:27 am

        If the Irgun’s goal was extermination why did they bring a sound truck that would broadcast orders to vacate over it’s loudspeaker?

      • Citizen
        September 29, 2017, 5:00 am

        @JeffB

        Did Zionists commit multiple rapes of Palestinian school girls, theft, murder of the old and young at Deir Yasmin to send a message? The village was harboring enemy forces? No, the village had a peace pact with the nearby orthodox Jewish enclave. Members of said enclave came, arguing to stop done and proposed atrocities by the Zionists. What POWs? The villagers were innocent civilians.

      • Keith
        September 29, 2017, 2:47 pm

        JACKDAW- “I think most of the evidence supports the Irgun’s version of events.”

        You disgust me. Although not the largest of the massacres, Deir Yasssin was the iconic symbol of the Nakba, utilized by the Zionist leadership to sow terror into the Palestinians and cause them to flee. Years later, Menachem Begin insisted that the massacre at Deir Yassin was essential in creating a Jewish majority state. To claim that Deir Yassin was a neccessary and proportional military operation is to suggest that the entire Nakba has been misrepresented, hence, Nakba denial. Please note that the massacre took place about one month PRIOR to the withdrawl of the conniving British forces. Ilan Pappe describes what happened.

        “The systematic nature of Plan Dalet is manifested in Deir Yassin, a pastoral and cordial village that had reached a non-aggression pact with the Hagana in Jerusalem, but was doomed to be wiped out because it was within the areas designated in Plan Dalet to be cleansed. Because of the prior agreement they had signed with the village, the Hagana decided to send the Irgun and Stern Gang troops, so as to absolve themselves from any official accountability. In the subsequent cleansing of “friendly” villages even this ploy would no longer be necessary.

        On 9 April 1948, Jewish forces occupied the village of Deir Yassin. It lay on a hill west of Jerusalem, eight hundred metres above sea level and close to the Jewish neighborhood of Givat Shaul. The old village school serves today as a mental hospital for the western Jewish neighborhood that expanded over the destroyed village.

        As they burst into the village, the Jewish soldiers sprayed the houses with machine-gun fire, killing many of the inhabitants. The remaining villagers were then gathered in one place and murdered in cold blood, their bodies abused while a number of women were raped then killed.

        Fahim Zaydan, who was twelve years old at the time, recalled how he saw his family murdered in front of his eyes:

        “They took us out one after the other; shot an old man and when one of his daughters cried, she was shot too. They then called my brother Muhammad, and shot him in front of us, and when my mother yelled, bending over him – carrying my little sister Hudra in her hands, still breatfeeding her – they shot her too.”

        Zaydan himself was shot, too, while standing in a row of children the Jewish soldiers had lined up against the wall, which they then sprayed with bullets, ‘just for the fun of it’, before they left. He was lucky to survive his wounds.
        ….
        At the time, the Jewish leadership announce a high number of victims so as to make Deir Yassin the epicenter of the catastrophe – a warning to all Palestinians that a similar fate awaited them if they refused to abandon their homes and take flight.”
        (P90-91, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” Ilan Pappe) Included in the Deir Yassin victims were thirty babies. (Pappe)

      • Jackdaw
        September 29, 2017, 3:13 pm

        @Annie

        Notwithstanding your vain attempts to impute feelings to me, I am not the issue, nor is the history of the State of Israel the issue.

        The issue here, is the hypocritical double standards of James North and Mondoweiss when they glorify a child murdering terrorist while flouting their own comments rules.

        Thanks for letting us see what the sludge at the bottom of the barrel looks like. We need reminding sometimes.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 29, 2017, 3:59 pm

        jack, you have no authority to declare what “the issue here, is”. Notwithstanding your vain attempts to impute hypocritical feelings towards who you deem to be, or not to be, disgusting. you think the issue is the hypocritical double standards of others, but refuse to look at your own. under the circumstances, i think the issue is your hypocritical double standards supporting a colonial state renown for its glorification of child murders.

        no thanks for letting us witness, once again, the sludge at the bottom of the zionist barrel. if only we need reminding — but unfortunately we don’t. we can’t miss you when you won’t go away.

      • Mooser
        September 29, 2017, 3:58 pm

        “Thanks for letting us see what the sludge at the bottom of the barrel looks like. We need reminding sometimes.”

        “Jackdaw”, you must refuse to countenance this website with your presence!
        As we speak, Google Analytics is converting your every negative comment to a positive “hit” or even better, a positive “UPV”.
        You mustn’t let yourself be misused in this way.

        Besides, “Jackdaw” since there’s not a goddam thing you can do about Mondo, why subject yourself to all this?
        OH, BTW, “Jackdaw”, who is “us”? Not even the other Zionist ilk will associate themselves with you. Who is this “us”?

      • Mooser
        September 29, 2017, 4:09 pm

        “we can’t miss you when you won’t go away.”

        I should have thought of that. But I didn’t.

      • eljay
        September 29, 2017, 6:12 pm

        || Jackdaw: … Thanks for letting us see what the sludge at the bottom of the barrel looks like. We need reminding sometimes. ||

        Reminding? You Zionists wallow in that sludge 24/7!

      • Mooser
        September 29, 2017, 6:30 pm

        “Notwithstanding your vain attempts to impute feelings to me,”

        Sorry “Jackdaw”. A lot of people don’t understand the inherent objectifying effect of Zionism, which makes Zionists the only impartial observers of a situation in which they have much to gain or lose.
        Some people just won’t stop thinking that Jews are much like other people. There’s a name for that kind thinking!

      • Talkback
        September 29, 2017, 7:00 pm

        Jackdaw: “The issue here, is the hypocritical double standards of James North and Mondoweiss when they glorify a child murdering terrorist while flouting their own comments rules.”

        Jackdaw, which Zionist terrorist or Zioinst terrorist act do you condemn? Let’s see, if you will answer this question.

      • JeffB
        September 30, 2017, 9:49 pm

        @Citizen

        There is no evidence or claim of rape. Nor is there any evidence of children killed once the Irgun closed in on the village. You are making stuff up.

        As for the pact, if there were no fighters in the village where did the POWs handed over to the British come from?

        @Talkback

        No question the Arab version of the story involves a massacre. The question is whether these witnesses are lying or not. The two questions I started with need to be addressed to believe the Arab version of events. The Irgun witnesses are more consistent with the evidence we have.

        @Keith

        Same issue. Pape’s version of events isn’t consistent with the facts we have.

      • Talkback
        October 1, 2017, 7:21 am

        JeffB: “@Talkback

        No question the Arab version of the story involves a massacre. The question is whether these witnesses are lying or not. The two questions I started with need to be addressed to believe the Arab version of events. The Irgun witnesses are more consistent with the evidence we have.”

        Sure, If the “witnesses” are Jewish and perpetrators (Deir Yassin or King David Hotel) than it’s not the question if they are lying are not. Only if they are Arabs and possible victims. (Holocaust deniers claim that Jewish victims are lying about the Holocaust. You are just their equivalent.)

        I anticipated your racism. That’s why I quote two Jews:

        Dr. Alfred Engel was a doctor of Magen David Adom.
        Meir Pail became a colonel in the Israel Defense Forces, an Israeli politician, and military historian.

        Now here’s Jacques de Reynier, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Palestine talking about the terrorists:

        “The gang [the Irgun detachment] was wearing country uniforms with helmets. … This was the “cleaning up” team, that was obviously performing its task very conscientiously.

        I tried to go into a house. A dozen soldiers surrounded me, their machine-guns aimed at my body, and their officer forbade me to move … I then flew into one of the most towering rages of my life, telling these criminals what I thought of their conduct, threatening them with everything I could think of, and then pushed them aside and went into the house

        …I found some bodies, cold. Here the “cleaning up” had been done with machine-guns, then hand grenades. It had been finished off with knives, anyone could see that … as I was about to leave, I heard something like a sigh. I looked everywhere, turned over all the bodies, and eventually found a little foot, still warm. It was a little girl of ten, mutilated by a hand grenade, but still alive

        But you need to defend the terrorist’s point view. Whether Deir Yassin or King David Hotel, right? Your doing it also with the largest, well-equipped terror wing in the world called IDF.

        Let’s remind us of the word’s of one of Israel’s Prime Terrorists Menachem Begin regarding Deir Yassiin:
        “God, God, Thou has chosen us for conquest.”

    • Mooser
      September 28, 2017, 7:06 pm

      “Does anyone know the names of the kids Zohra murdered?”

      Up to you if you want to learn something from that or not. And this was a colony of a country, France, and there was no confused muddle about who obligation it was to defend the colonial set-up

      • Jackdaw
        September 29, 2017, 1:25 am

        Zohra wrote a book. I’d expect to find the names of her victims there.

        The kids in the soda shop weren’t defending the colonial set up.

      • MHughes976
        September 29, 2017, 4:56 am

        See Amy Hibbelll, ‘Scandalous Memory’ (Modern Languages Association, 2015). No names of those killed are given, but two of the wounded and amputated, still living, are named as Nicole Guiraud and Danielle Michel-Chich. Guiraud is the angrier of the two, Michel-Chich keeps trying to rise above such things but keeps failing because her damaged body reminds her every day. These two women do deserve a place in memory, as Jackdaw implies. I’ve been mentioning our rules a bit recently, mainly in the context of Nakba denial – which I, not that I’m in any kind of authority, take to extend to Nakba justification. This article about Drif seems to come very close to celebration of a violent act, contrary to rule 5.

      • Jackdaw
        September 29, 2017, 1:54 pm

        @MHughes976

        Planting a bomb in a soda shop, with the specific intention of murdering innocent teens, is the very definition of terrorism.

        Mondoweiss and James North don’t see Zohra Drif as a murderous terrorist.

        These Drif articles present us with a rare opportunity to peer into the dark hearts of James North and Mondoweiss.

        Personally, I’m disgusted.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 29, 2017, 2:15 pm

        and all the “dark hearts” who deemed the jewish terrorism employed to secure a jewish state, somehow ‘worth it’ do they personally disgust you too? and what of the slaughtering of hundreds of children in one of the israeli grass mowing operations, does that similarly disgust you? somehow i’m not swayed by your oh so selective personal disgust. you who routinely excuse the terrorism of colonialists and condemn actions of the oppressed.

      • Mooser
        September 29, 2017, 2:07 pm

        “The kids in the soda shop weren’t defending the colonial set up.”

        Up to you whether you take a lesson from that.

        “Personally, I’m disgusted.”

        Depriving Mondoweiss of the generous allotment of “hits” and “UPVs” you usually supply is the only proper response!

      • eljay
        September 29, 2017, 2:26 pm

        || Jackdaw: … I’m disgusted. ||

        …says the “Jewish State” supremacist. Imagine that.

        But I’m all for holding Ms.. Drif – and every Zionist (war) criminal – accountable for her/his respective actions.

        … She was sentenced to 20 years in prison at hard labor. She served five of them …

        Looks like she got hers, so it’s time for Zionist (war) criminals to get theirs.

      • Mooser
        September 29, 2017, 2:27 pm

        “This article about Drif seems to come very close to celebration of a violent act, contrary to rule 5.”

        I don’t remember anyone suggesting the “Comments Policy” would apply to the articles, too.

        I would think the articles come under the rubric’s cube of the “About” page.

      • Mooser
        September 29, 2017, 7:18 pm

        “The kids in the soda shop weren’t defending the colonial set up.”

        And what were the people at the King David Hotel doing?

        Anyway, I’m surprised, “Jackdaw”. Why don’t you see the indigenous Algerian expulsion of the French in the same light as the indigenous Zionists expulsion of the British colonial masters from Palestine?

      • Bumblebye
        September 29, 2017, 9:03 pm

        Oh shut up Jackdaw.

        Plenty of zionist terrorists wrote books after their vile acts of massacre and ethnic cleansing led to the founding of a state. Are their scores, hundreds, thousands of victims named within? Do you demand it?

      • Donald Johnson
        September 29, 2017, 9:58 pm

        “This article about Drif seems to come very close to celebration of a violent act, contrary to rule 5.”

        Agreed. The Irgun defenders are also violating the rule. I suppose this is the thread where rule 5 came to die.

      • Jackdaw
        September 30, 2017, 1:47 am

        @ Mooser

        “And what were the people at the King David Hotel doing? ”

        In 1946, the King David Hotel was the headquarters of the British Mandate government, housing much of its intelligence apparatus and top military, intelligence and civilian officials.

        The bombers phoned in a warning to evacuate, which went unheeded.

        I condemn any and all terrorist attacks on innocent civilians, which is more than James North and Mondoweiss have done in the case of the murderous Zohra Drif.

        Mooser. Strap on a set and condemn Zohra, and condemn Mondoweiss hypocrisy.

      • Jackdaw
        September 30, 2017, 1:52 am

        @ Mooser

        ” Why don’t you see the indigenous Algerian expulsion of the French in the same light as the indigenous Zionists expulsion of the British colonial masters from Palestine? ”

        Because they are two completely different struggles.

      • Jackdaw
        September 30, 2017, 2:03 am

        @Bumblebee

        “Are their(sic) scores, hundreds, thousands of victims named within? Do you demand it? ”

        I didn’t murder anyone, and I didn’t write a book.

        Count to think of it, even O.J. Simpson had the decency to name his victims when Simpson wrote his book.

      • Talkback
        September 30, 2017, 7:17 am

        Mooser: “Anyway, I’m surprised, “Jackdaw”. Why don’t you see the indigenous Algerian expulsion of the French in the same light as the indigenous Zionists expulsion of the British colonial masters from Palestine?”

        Since when are Zionist terrorists as such indigenous?

        Btw. Do you think that he’s going to answer your question or mine (Jackdaw, which Zionist terrorist or Zioinst terrorist act do you condemn?)?

      • Mooser
        September 30, 2017, 12:08 pm

        “Since when are Zionist terrorists as such indigenous?”

        Why, a Zionist told me only yesterday (I think it was “Dabakr”) that Zionist have lots of “indigenuity”(sic) in Palestine.

      • Mooser
        September 30, 2017, 12:10 pm

        “The bombers phoned in a warning to evacuate, which went unheeded.”

        The warning was in Modern Hebrew, so nobody understood what the hell they were saying. Clever, huh? Proves the life-saving power of Modern Hebrew!

      • Talkback
        September 30, 2017, 1:27 pm

        JeffB: “I condemn any and all terrorist attacks on innocent civilians, …”

        Then you actually condemn what led to the creation of Israel and the expulsion of its natives.

      • Talkback
        September 30, 2017, 1:58 pm

        Jackdaw: “Because they are two completely different struggles.”

        Of course they were. Algeria’s war was an ANTI-colonial struggle. The Zionist war and still is the opposite.

        Jackdaw: “The bombers phoned in a warning to evacuate, which went unheeded.”

        Israel celebrates Irgun hotel bombers
        “There is no credible evidence that any warning reached the British authorities.”
        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1524552/Israel-celebrates-Irgun-hotel-bombers.html

      • Annie Robbins
        October 1, 2017, 5:06 am

        i find this less than convincing:

        Agassi called the hotel. “This is Etzel. We put bombs in there. Clear the people’ we told them,” she says.
        The response was disparaging. “They laughed and said, ‘those bloody Jews won’t tell us what to do,” she recalls.

      • MHughes976
        September 30, 2017, 4:45 pm

        I’ve been following Jackdaw’s suggestion a few steps further. Amy Hibbell mentions the two highly articulate victims, Guiraud and Michel-Chich, and states that Drif ‘has kept a cool distance from those she wounded and has remained apparently unresponsive to their testimony’, which expresses her attitude clearly enough, as does her citation of French Revolutionary proclamations. On the other side, M-Chich is attempting a degree of mutual understanding and reconciliation, though this meets from Drif only with her policy of cool,distance. Guiraud (whose general views are clearly right-wing) takes a much angrier view, writing of Drif’s attack on her and others ‘Heroisme et feminisme, cela? Ou plutot imposture et sinistre opportunisme’. Well, this view too deserves to be considered.
        We can indeed reply ‘tu quoque’ to Jackdaw and the Zionists. But ‘tu quoque’ is not completely consoling because it often implies ‘ego quoque’.
        If Rule 5 has come here to die I hope for its resurrection and implementation.

      • Talkback
        September 30, 2017, 5:44 pm

        @Jon66

        Excactly. There is no CREDIBLE evidence that any warning reached the BRITISH AUTHORITIES.

        More importantly let us remind the words of the future first president of Israel after this terrorist attack: “I can’t help feeling proud of our boys.”

      • echinococcus
        September 30, 2017, 6:12 pm

        Hughes,

        That is called war. Once it’s on, there are no rules but to utterly destroy the occupier. Any aggressor or occupier who tries to resist will necessarily put its own population (and collaborators) in harm’s way.

        How fast we forget our own occupation and resistance, and even the more recent anticolonial struggles.

        That’s why the UN Charter carries the Nuremberg principles; invaded populations have the imprescriptible right to fight by all means necessary, period. This is not a fell-good statement; it is fairly ominous. Anyone with many relatives and friends in the Resistance, the Mau-Mau, the ANC or any other liberation movement can tell you what ends up being “necessary” if the aggressor doesn’t quit soon.

        None of that applies to the aggressor party, by the way, who doesn’t even have the right to **be** there.

        Algeria offered what is required: become loyal Algerian citizens, or else choose between a suitcase and a coffin. That’s highly appropriate.

      • Mooser
        September 30, 2017, 6:36 pm

        “Jon 66” have you turned anti-Zionist? Why are you linking articles which plainly admit Zionist guilt?

      • Donald Johnson
        September 30, 2017, 8:50 pm

        MHughes– Thanks for tracking down the names. Here is a link to a story about Michel – Chich, who was a 5 year old girl who lost her grandmother and one leg while she was eating ice cream.

        http://www.houstonchronicle.com/life/article/French-author-and-Houstonphile-speaks-up-for-4301198.php#photo-4235886

      • Jackdaw
        October 1, 2017, 3:56 am

        @Donald @ MHughes

        Thank you for trying to give a voice to Zohra Drif’s victims.

        I don’t think I am defending the Irgun when I point out the many differences between the King David Hotel bombing and the bombing of the Milk Bar, nor am I defending the Zionist’s massacre at Deir Yassin when I try to clarify the factual record.

        James North has glorified a terrorist, who has the blood of innocent children on her hands.
        This violation of the rules will go unpunished because ‘Animal Farm’ rules apply at Mondoweiss.

      • Talkback
        October 1, 2017, 6:50 am

        Annie: “I find this less than convincing”

        Maybe she had to say it, because she admits: “I was a soldier, I have no regrets. I did my duty.”
        http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/.premium-1.732682

      • Mooser
        October 1, 2017, 1:00 pm

        “This violation of the rules will go unpunished because ‘Animal Farm’ rules apply at Mondoweiss.”

        “Animal Farm rules”? You mean “All comments are equal, but some articles are more equal than comments”? That rule?

        But how would you suggest Mondo “punish” James North? (This I gotta hear.)

      • Mooser
        October 2, 2017, 11:58 am

        “Count to think of it, even O.J. Simpson had the decency to name his victims when Simpson wrote his book.”

        “His victims”? As I remember, OJ Simpson was found innocent of the murders.
        Did you just find him guilty?

  2. lonely rico
    September 29, 2017, 4:10 am

    > JeffB

    I think most of the evidence supports the Irgun’s version of events.

    Of course the dispassionate account of the perpetrators must be true !
    What other version(s) have you studied JeffB ?

    Concerning extermination/conquest – the Irgun’s goal was conquest and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.
    ‘Extermination’ (murder), rape, and destruction were among the methods used to achieve these sordid ends.

    • Mooser
      September 29, 2017, 2:10 pm

      “I think most of the evidence supports the Irgun’s version of events.” “Jeff b”

      After all, every Zionist account supports it. And who, other than the Zionists , could be more objective, impartial and disinterested observers?

    • lonely rico
      September 30, 2017, 4:59 pm

      I think most of the evidence supports the Irgun’s version of events. Jeff B

      The last word on Deir Yassin might be given to eyewitness and future colonel in the Israeli military –

      “They (the Irgun) didn’t know how to fight, but as murderers they were pretty good”.

      From Daniel McGowan “A Jewish eye-witness: and interview with Meir Pa’il” in Remembering Deir Yassin: the future of Israel and Palestine by Daniel McGowan and Marc Ellis (New York: Olive Branch, 1998), 40

    • JeffB
      September 30, 2017, 10:03 pm

      @lonely rico

      Of course the dispassionate account of the perpetrators must be true !

      First off it is a war. There aren’t “perpetrators” there are just sides. There are 3 main accounts of the event. The Arab account, the western leftist account and the Irgun accounts. The Irgun account is consistent with the details we know from unbiased 3rd parties in all but a few very small details. The Arab account has substantial holes in the story and is inconsistent with some major details. The Western leftist account is simply impossible and self contradictory.

      The events most likely true are the ones most consistent with the evidence. I haven’t studied any of the 3 in any detail. I listed 2 questions above I have yet to hear a good answer to them. Without that it isn’t worth serious study. There is no Irgun anymore. The 1947-9 war is over. Most of the people involved are dead or close to it. It is pretty low priority to begin with. There are plenty of more recent questionable incidents.

      There have been studies by experts. I’m satisfied. If there is substantial new evidence that wasn’t considered by the experts then fine. Otherwise moving on.

  3. JosephA
    September 29, 2017, 11:16 pm

    You know somebody has lost touch with reality and humanity when they defend the actions of genocidal colonialist racists. Your mothers must be proud (or, more likely, ashamed).

  4. Eva Smagacz
    October 1, 2017, 6:09 am

    MHughes976, you said:

    I’ve been following Jackdaw’s suggestion a few steps further. Amy Hibbell mentions the two highly articulate victims, Guiraud and Michel-Chich,

    I am all for fairness. The attacks outside of cashbah were in response to:

    “In summer 1956, the French-colonial “ultra” vigilantes considerably increased their level of violence against the Algerian population and any French settlers suspected of sympathizing with them.

    and especially:

    “She and Samia Lakhdari carried out their own bombings as a response to an especially cruel French attack. On August 10, 1956, colonial agents planted a huge bomb in the upper Casbah, which killed more than 70 Algerians. The FLN decided to strike back by taking the fight to the colon areas, which had been peaceful until then”

    I assume that, if the course of logic employed by our resident Zionists is to be followed, we are to pass over suffering of 70 native Algerians, who were killed, ignore the suffering of an unnamed number of native Algerians who survived and live with their injuries, and concentrate on the suffering of couple of colons , as if their suffering were to be greater, because colonial enterprise kept their name in the public domain(!).

    I cannot think of a better example of an inbred racism and supremacism exposed by this line of thinking. 33/39

    • Jackdaw
      October 1, 2017, 10:07 am

      ” cannot think of a better example of an inbred racism and supremacism exposed by this line of thinking. 33/39 ”

      That remark also sounds like a violation of comment rule #1.
      In fact, it sounds very anti-Semitic.

      Don’t expect Mondoweiss to act on this comment violation either.

      • Talkback
        October 1, 2017, 11:49 am

        The remark by Jackdaw sounds like a violation of comment rule #1.

        In fact, it sounds very anti-Semitic, because he implies that Jews as such follow the “course of logic employed by our resident Zionists.”

      • MHughes976
        October 1, 2017, 12:01 pm

        I think Eva shows how difficult it is to see both sides of the coin or all sides of the polyhedron in an objective and balanced way. The Hobbes/Dostoyevsky situation in which everything is permitted can possibly arise in human affairs. Hobbes took the view that the only logical response to that sort of situation is to get out of it and to forget about rights of revenge. I keep thinking that he must be right but sometimes I wonder.

      • Mooser
        October 1, 2017, 2:08 pm

        “Don’t expect Mondoweiss to act on this comment violation either.”

        But you can act, “Jackdaw”! You and you alone, can refuse to post at a site which so flagrantly violates your comment rules.
        But if you leave, don’t worry, “Jackdaw”, my rara herzl( a bird who tries so hard). I’ll be here, and I’ll make sure nobody says anything worse about Jews than we say about them!

      • Mooser
        October 1, 2017, 2:13 pm

        “Jackdaw” she said the racism was “inbred”. She did not accuse anyone of consanguinity.

        And furthermore, given our Jewish genetic diversity, it is absurd to worry about that kind of thing, even if out-marriage is low. We’ve got the whole world in our glands already.

  5. gamal
    October 1, 2017, 4:43 pm

    Is Ratissage French for “mowing the lawn”?

  6. George Smith
    October 2, 2017, 6:05 pm

    In the excerpt in Helena Cobban’s September 26 post, Zohra Drif writes, “[W]e did not face the same dilemma as Camus, who, ordered to choose between justice and his mother, sacrificed justice. In fact, his mother being his country, France, as a colonial power she was antithetical to justice….Our own mother being Algeria, her liberation was one and the same with justice.”

    This is a terrible distortion of Camus. Here is his often misquoted response to a student comment in Stockholm on December 12, 1957: “A l’heure où nous parlons, on jette des bombes dans les tramways d’Alger. Ma mère peut se trouver dans l’un de ces tramways. Si c’est cela la justice, je préfère ma mère.” (As we speak people are throwing bombs in the tramways of Algiers. My mother could find herself on one of those tramways. If that’s justice, I prefer my mother.) He wasn’t saying he preferred his mother to justice, as Le Monde reported and his enemies so frequently charged. He was saying he preferred his mother to indiscriminate bombing.

    Adam Gropnik has written movingly (New Yorker, April 9, 2012) about Camus, himself a pied noir, and France’s savage attempt to keep its Algerian colony:

    “Though impeccably anti-colonial, Camus refused to take part in the sentimental embrace of the National Liberation Front, the F.L.N., that became de rigueur in left-wing circles in those years. Struggling to explain why he could not abandon the idea of a French Algeria—or, at a minimum, of some decent compromise that would insure majority rule while protecting the rights of the ‘settler’ minority—he ended with the weak-sounding formula that he could not abandon his mother, which made it seem merely a question of blood. Lacking a better way of putting it, he chose silence, and this most indispensable of editorialists spent the last five years of his life, until his death, in a car crash, in 1960, with his own tongue under house arrest, vowing not to speak about the Algerian problem.

    “Camus felt as deeply for the seeming oppressor as for the oppressed. He grasped that the great majority of the settlers in any country, and in Algeria in particular, were as much victims of the circumstance as the locals, and made the same claims on decency and empathy….Colonialism is wrong, but the human claims of the colonists are just as real as those of the colonized. No human being is more indigenous to a place than any other. This remains an unfashionable, even taboo, position; one feels it still, for instance, in the condescension that American leftists offer white South Africans….Camus wasn’t wrong. What he meant by his mother was his mother: not blood loyalty or genetic roots but the particular experience of a woman who had labored all her life as a domestic servant and was no more guilty of or complicit in colonial crimes than everyone else who lives on earth is complicit in dispossessing someone. It wasn’t that he wouldn’t abandon his roots for a cause; it was that he wouldn’t abandon his mother for an idea.”

    Zionism must come to an end, but we should pray that for Palestine’s Jews the advent of justice doesn’t mean—as it did mean for the pieds noirs—choosing between “la valise ou le cercueil” (a suitcase or a coffin).

  7. JeffB
    October 2, 2017, 11:06 pm

    Just came back from her talk. A few interesting points

    Her reasons for writing the book in 2013 are:

    1) An apologetic for the tactics
    2) A friend had died who had been anonymous so she could tell her story without implicating this friend
    3) Educate children. Very few left who remain to tell the story.

    The Q&A and discussion was quite advanced. The conversation assumed you could refer to various figures in the Battle for Algiers by name. I couldn’t follow all of it. What I could was detailed opinion on specific choices of the leadership. Solid recommend to go to one of these session if you have a lot of interest. Zohra Drif is quite lucid and has an excellent memory for details from almost 60 years ago.

    In terms of the 1990s she admits the FLN had never considered the possibility of religious war because the population was 95% sunni muslim. They felt that the tensions that existed in places like Iraq simply couldn’t happen in Algeria. The GIA in her opinion came out of the fight against Afghanistan and that’s what started the troubles.

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