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The Algeria model — a conversation with James D. Le Sueur

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James D. Le Sueur

James D. Le Sueur in his library, photo by Sofia and Sef Sarroub-Le Sueur

Leftwing critics have taken to describing Israel as a settler-colonial society, like Algeria under the French and South Africa under the Afrikaners, and they are having an impact. In the last year, both Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and Roger Cohen, the NY Times columnist, have warned that the conflict is beginning to resemble Algeria more than South Africa, meaning that the settlers will end up leaving. To understand the Algerian parallel, I sought out James D. Le Sueur, one of the leading American scholars of decolonization. Le Sueur is the author of Uncivil War: Intellectuals and Identity Politics during the Decolonization of Algeria and of Algeria since 1989: Between Democracy and Terror, and the editor of the war Journals of the Algerian writer Mouloud Feraoun. A history professor at the University of Nebraska, he is now writing a book about decolonization.

I interviewed Le Sueur by phone last September. It’s taken a little while to transcribe the dialogue, and Le Sueur added a few notes at the bottom. My questions are in italics.  

Weiss: When people say that the Israel/Palestine conflict is looking more like Algeria than South Africa, they mean that the degree of contempt and radicalization is becoming so extreme that this will become a zero sum game, in which ultimately one side has to go. What do you think of the analogy generally?

James Le Sueur:  While I appreciate the attempts to make comparison — in terms of how occupations or war radicalizes – I’d point out the very different nature of the French occupation of Algeria. It has a much longer history than the Israel-Palestine conflict. And after the beginning of the occupation of Algeria in the 1830’s and 1840’s, France almost immediately converted Algeria into three overseas provinces. That is very important because, in the French mind, when soldiers fought for the continuation of the French control in Algeria, they fought on French soil for France itself, and not in abstract terms. Hence the French stake in Algeria was a very significant feature of how the French became ever more imbedded in that conflict. As they said, “Algeria is France.” In the French mind, it was not a colony and what they did there was legally and entirely a French matter, and it continued to remain so all the way through the 1950s and into the early 1960s, as Algerian nationalists tried to bring the matter to the UN.

So very significantly, the creation of the state of Israel is a much more recent phenomenon, though the effects of occupation might appear to be the same. And Israel’s creation as a state also corresponded to the terrible events of the Second World War that were significant enough to allow American policymakers like Truman and other people (the British and the French) to side pretty firmly with the Zionists over and against the objections of the Arab world.

On the other hand the two histories, Algeria and Israel/Palestine, might be comparable because the violence continues to escalate in Israel/Palestine and has since Israel was created, because Palestinians view this as a colonial occupation. I have many friends who are on both sides of this issue, including liberal Jewish friends who oppose the continuation of the occupation. And on the ground, the settlements look a lot like French colonialism in some real ways. And the logic of the settlements looks a lot like the logic given by French settlers for ‘occupation’ of Algeria.

Tell me about radicalization.

These really violent colonial conflicts radicalize both sides. What happens though in the Algerian case especially– one of the greatest missteps in the whole French misadventure– is that the French settlers and the metropole government failed to seize any opportunities to mediate the conflict, or to compromise in an honest way, before it escalated. On this count, it seems similar to what has happened in Palestine, with all the missed opportunities for an honest compromise.

So, I would say that what happened in Algeria prior to the war of independence starting in 1954 is relevant for comparison with the contemporary and historical failures of the Israeli state and Israeli settlers to negotiate openly with Palestinians. The radical intransigence of the Israeli settlers is very similar to the more radical of the French settlers in Algeria. Ironically, in Algeria’s case, many 20th-century nationalists were not even calling for complete separation from France. Sure, they wanted equal rights, they wanted a number of things, but they didn’t necessarily demand complete independence from France. That idea of independence happens much later in Algeria.

After the Emir Abd el-Qadir is defeated in 1847, that idea of independence disappears for a long time. And it doesn’t really resurface till after the Second World War. And what happens in that period, from the late eighteen hundreds to say the nineteen teens or twenties, there were efforts on the part of Algerian nationalists to negotiate for more rights, for greater liberties and so on and so forth, but the Algerian colonial lobby in France refused to heed even these suggestions or listen to these necessary calls for reform.

Then another thing happens: In May 1945, you probably know, there’s a very violent crackdown on Algerian nationalists, for a couple of days in a region called Setif. The Setif massacre is really important, because up until that point the Algerian nationalists were calling publicly for the French to negotiate in terms of providing rights. After that crackdown, when the Algerians estimate that 45,000 people were basically massacred by the French military– that’s when the Algerian nationalists go underground, radicalize, and refuse to again ask publicly for the French to accommodate their demands for equal rights, etc. That’s where the radicalization of the nationalist movement happened, after the newly-liberated France massacred around 45,000 innocents, including women and children, just as Europe celebrated the defeat of Nazi Germany.  After May 1945, the Algerians organize and collectively strategize about how they are going to pursue their agenda. Eventually, on November 1, 1954, the nationalists resurface with a revolutionary program. At that point, their goal is end the French ‘occupation.’ Though it remains unclear what the status of the Europeans there [roughly 1.2 million] would be.

In that context, the Algerian President Ferhat Abbas is a moderate, against the more violent FLN forces, right?

He was clearly part of the missed opportunity, and he is important as a moderate. He eventually gets sidestepped by the more radical factions of the FLN. But in the 1930s and 1940s, he was one of the people who looked to negotiate with the French, and he did hold important positions after he joined the FLN in 1956. And you know there’s a big debate about these people because most of them were not talking about complete independence from France.

The irony of this whole thing is that the idea of independence is first used by the French in Algeria who resent metropolitan France’s increasing encroachment on their way of life, their way of dealing with Algerians. So the French colons call for independence before the Algerians do. A similar phenomenon happens, of course, in South Africa. The Afrikaners resent the continued British efforts to suppress South African racism, and the Republic of South Africa is declared, which separates South Africa from British oversight.

This is a worldwide anti-colonial phenomenon. The settlers are trying to protect their discriminatory practices, and governments are trying to stop them. I know that in Israel that’s also part of the issue. Most people would agree that the more radical Jewish settlers, the ones who have built and who continue to build houses in illegal areas, they’re essentially colonial in outlook. In some ways, it reminds me of what happens before the American Revolution here. There were a lot of reasons of why the American Revolution happened, but part of it had to do with the resentment of American settlers when the British metropolitan officials told American settlers how to deal with Native Americans. American colonists didn’t like being told how to negotiate, how to deal with Native Americans, and which lands they could take from Native Americans as the settlers looked westward.

I see this debate about settlers as a pretty universal colonial question; it happens with all settler societies when they see themselves being surrounded by hostile forces and desirous of someone else’s land. And it’s tautological. Settlers need more military protection because they continue to make contested moves, and the more settlers there are, the more the military is needed to protect them. And as a result settlers have militaries that are bound to protect them and settler societies develop increasingly radical politics. So a government like Israel feels that contradiction of trying to protect settlers and at the same time rein them in because they’re considered even by most moderates in Israel to be pretty problematic.

But aren’t we past the age of colonialism? Wasn’t that what World War II was about? The frame is over? What is Israel in that context?

This is my take, having worked on this question within various archives in the US, Europe, South Asia and throughout Africa over the past 15 years. What happens, especially with Truman and Eisenhower, is the development of a deep philosophy that America has an obligation to support these emerging governments. This was also true of Israel. However, that support comes with a contradiction because Israel is viewed as colonial by the Arabs and many states. Israel behaved like a colonial state too, expanding its borders and developing a settler society/culture, etc. So it exhibits a behavior that appears to be in real terms colonial as its ‘nation-stateness’ begins.

It’s also ironical that these considerations take the US right into Vietnam/Indochina, to defend unstable regimes against so-called Communist imperialism. The US government made decisions in order to keep certain allies and to do certain things, even to support wars like Vietnam because of the logic of the Cold War.  Israel benefited from that same logic.

It flips?

Yes. It flips. In Israel case, there’s a very understandable urge on the part of Europeans and Americans to help European Jews after the Holocaust. I think that is an honest and empathetic response. And then immediately there are problems because the British mandate officials find themselves in a bad security position during the war and from 1945 to 1947 in the territories. It’s similar to the British position in India in which the British military and security forces were facing the prospect of partition and civil war and they wanted to get out so as not to be trapped behind a colonial position when a civil war erupted. Consequently, Lord Mountbatten (viceroy of India in 1947) actually pushed forward the transfer of power by a year, moving it from 1948 to 1947 in order to clear his men out of the carnage that would beset India in 1947.

With the British Mandate in Palestine, the US seeks to avoid being drawn into these police and security questions.

Do you regard Israel as a settler colonial state to begin with? On the left people say that.

I think it was. It was settled by Zionists. Many of those settlers were refugees from Europe, and as the state emerged, it was connected to the experience of the persecution of Jews in Europe. Most people understand that. I also think that, getting back to the analogies to what happened in Algeria, like every state that emerges in a historical context, there are people who support that idea of the nation. In Israel that happens. In Algeria the same thing happens. That nation begins to crystallize and take shape, and the defense of that state takes on a life and a logic of its own. (We can’t forget the importance of the Arab wars with Israel, especially the 1967 war.)

And in that period in Algeria where people began to critique the French occupation there emerged a group of intellectuals who really were opponents of the French continuation and status quo in Algeria. And there’s a split among people in France. Some people supported the French colonization of Algeria. Others opposed the French status quo. Albert Camus comes to mind. He’s one of the people who grew up in the colonial context, he understands what it was to live in that world. He understands colonialism, but he doesn’t like it.

When we think about Camus and Algeria, we remember the famous line: between my mother and justice, between putting bombs on trams and supporting the people riding the trams, I choose my mother. Is it true his mother was a deaf and dumb person cleaning people’s houses in Algiers?

More or less, yes.

And he was saying the colons can be humble, working class. Not driving Cadillacs with cigars. But that must be true of all colonial situations.

I think one of the criticisms of the French anticolonial left– the French really have a different kind of anticolonialism. They were much more theoretical and much more public about it.  Camus understood of course, being from Algeria, that not all colonists or settlers are the same, that all colons didn’t drive Cadillacs, smoke cigars, and drive around with whips, as he put it. Nor more importantly are all “Muslims” (the French term for Algerians at the time) the same. He knew that there were Algerians who were secular– the FLN itself was radically secular in fundamental ways, though it used Islam when it needed to, pragmatically. In key ways, the FLN mimicked the French left. They wore ties. They didn’t dress even like traditional Muslim leaders. Some people did. Not Messali Hadj, who represented a rival Algerian nationalist movement that was brutally liquidated by the fratricidal tactics of the FLN.  But what Camus understood were the nuances. He also understood liberty and justice, freedom and so forth, and he connected those ideas to the democratic spirit of France. He’s a very sympathetic figure. Because he’s also an artist. He doesn’t swallow the bait of the left and shift blindly to Marxism or communism. He was critical of Marxism and critical of communism. Not only is he pushing back against the anticolonial spirit of France, but he’s also pushing against the bigger ideas, Marxism and communism, and he argued that they were ineffectual at fighting against colonialism. So he finds himself increasingly separated from the majority of intellectuals on the left.

In Camus, you have a very enlightened, very informed, very caring person who is trying to do the right thing in a world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be in the middle. It’s a polarized world, and the forces pulled in both directions, and pretty strongly.  Camus really gets imbedded in ‘56 and ‘57 in the debate about Algeria when he starts to express reservations about the extreme violence of the FLN. Good for him, I think. Guess what– the FLN was pretty violent, even against its own people. The same was true for the French state, of course, which used torture routinely. But Camus understood the violence of the FLN, and he distrusted it. This is where I differ from a lot of historians. I do not shy away from writing about the brutal violence of the FLN. To be sure, the FLN represented the nation, but how did it get to this point? In most cases, it liquidated all of its opponents, even and most especially Algerian ones. The FLN’s postcolonial totalitarian nature (which still exist today) was formed in the fires of war against the French military, which used terrible and violent tactics to win Algeria at all costs.

You have written a lot about the Algerian intellectual Mouloud Feraoun, and the pity of Feraoun is that he said, I’m more French than the French, and French radicals kill him.

Mouloud Feraoun

Mouloud Feraoun

Yes, what’s really tragic about him is that he was killed by the rightwing pro-settler movement, the Organization of the Secret Army (OAS). Not the FLN. Whether he would have survived after 1962 is another question. I’m not sure he would have survived after the FLN took power. He may have been forced to go into exile. It’s impossible to say, but the FLN became a dictatorial totalitarian regime, period. It got into the mess in 1990s because it was that kind of brutal regime to begin with.

The tragedy of Mouloud Feraoun is that he, like Camus understood the effects of the violence on everybody, on both sides. And, like Camus, he tried to walk that middle line, and he was pretty effective. He did not like to be used by the French. In my mind he is one of the greatest figures of the 20th century, because he was simple, observant, brilliant, and honest. He was first and foremost a teacher. He stayed there on the ground, and stayed in the school, in one of the most violent wars in history. He has my sincere respect.

Could he have left?

Oh, sure, yes. He could have gone to France and taught in France. Many people asked him to do so.

I have a Spanish friend who works for the UN and when her friends ask, what’s the peaceful resolution of the Israel Palestine conflict?—she says, there is no peaceful resolution of the conflict. We’ve passed that point. When did Algeria pass that point? When did violence become the only way out? And once there’s violence, these figures in the middle are shredded. The OAS or the FLN might have killed Feraoun. Can you describe this arc of violence, when it’s too late?

When I look at the bigger picture, I think the missed opportunity in Algeria really came in 1945. Hitler is defeated, and Algerians go into the streets to celebrate VE day on May 8, 1945.  They go into the streets with signs and slogans asking for greater freedoms, more civil rights. A scuffle ensues. Some Europeans and some Algerians die, and how did the French respond to these demonstrations in Setif? The Algerians are mowed down and massacred by the French military, as the French and the rest of Europe celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany. That’s Setif in May 1945. The Algerians claimed 45,000 were murdered by the French in the wake of the Nazi defeat!

I think that’s where the whole game in Algeria changes. The leaders who were then asking for democratic changes, rights, basic freedoms, were above the ground. That is what they learned in that whole adventure a simply fact: being above ground doesn’t work, you need to go underground and use violence. I think the problem of violence is very simple: If people can complain and publicly militate for greater freedoms etc, above ground, then you’re in a place where peace is possible. If activists have to try to achieve their goals by being underground, as a guerrilla force or otherwise, it’s impossible in these settings.

In Israel, if both sides really want to resolve this, they need to get to a place where all opponents can be above ground. Without the threat of a state coming after them, or a movement coming after them. I think that’s one of the great lessons in history.

Presumably these lessons aren’t just discernible to eggheads at desks. But to leaders. Did Algeria play any role in the resolution of South Africa? 

Nelson Mandela meets with Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, right, on Sunday, May 20, 1990 in Cairo. (Photo via

Nelson Mandela meets Yasser Arafat, right, 1990 in Cairo. (Photo via

This is how I read South Africa. I just reread The Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela’s book. And I’ve spent a lot of time in South Africa, working in archives. And part of the genius of Mandela is understanding what happened to him while he was in prison, and the way he used his prison experience to not follow in the same historical footsteps that all the other decolonized countries followed. He had to step back. He said, I’m glad we were not immediately able to seize power in the 60’s because it might have led to an inferno. It’s a realization on Mandela’s part that by being in prison, he was able, South Africa and the ANC were able to re-think their relationships to Whites and Afrikaners — they still fought of course; a proxy war was under way on the borders– but liberation didn’t happen for the South Africans really until he took power in ‘94. So he had a feeling of being sidestepped by history.  Ironically, he understood this may have been a strange blessing because he understood that if you come out and try to run these states like all these other states, like Zimbabwe, you have a revenge-oriented mindset.  You have to find some way of moving the population, all races, together toward the same idea of the nation. That’s where the genius of Mandela really comes in. He learned from history. He’s one of the few leaders who actually did. He understood historically, that all these other nations came out with intense animosity, like Idi Amin in Uganda and so on, and went after all of the other people who they deemed oppressors. In South Africa, remember, in ‘94 we were all nervous about that possibility. I think the Afrikaners were pretty scared, so were the British descendants in South Africa, the blacks, as well — everybody was very nervous about what it meant to be South African. And one of the things that Mandela did was force the youth to back away from the revenge identity. Remember when he gets out of prison–I watched the videos again recently– they’re negotiating, they’re giving speeches, and those youth were really mad at him, because they didn’t think he was “radical” enough, he was some old curmudgeon who had sold out the revolution. He had to force those younger people back from that posture.

He had a base, though?

He had a base, sure, and he also understood that the international community was looking at him in a really specific way. And there were going to be punitive repercussions if he came out after all the whites who historically had been oppressing blacks.

In Algeria, who controlled events? Did extremists in French political culture control the events?

In July 1957, Kennedy, before he was elected president, gave probably one of the most important speeches he ever gave, and the speech was titled– and this is interesting considering what happens in the Bay of Pigs etc.– “Imperialism — the Enemy of Freedom.” And going back to your question, who controlled what, part of Kennedy’s argument is he wants the French to stop the war in Algeria. Kennedy tells them, Look, this is wrong, imperialism is really not working anymore as a way of being in the world, that kind of colonial world is gone. Part of his larger argument is, and this is really striking, he says something to the effect that there were 400,000 French soldiers in Algeria in a population that only has 1 million Europeans and 8 million Muslims. And I say Muslims because that’s just technically how France broke it up. Not practicing Muslims, but that’s the division that they had. So from Kennedy’s strategic point of view, those French troops were not positioned in Europe to fight against the Soviets, and in 1957, the Soviets were really a threat. So one of the things that Kennedy’s starting to articulate in American foreign policy is the desire to put a brake on these regimes that are oppressing people, and that means the French regime is oppressing people and refusing to recognize self-determination. But, let’s be clear, Kennedy’s eyes (and President Eisenhower’s as well) were on the defense of Europe, against Soviet imperialism in Europe. The Soviets weren’t bluffing, as Hungary in 1956 had just illustrated.

And other senators who replied to Kennedy, said, we need to stop funding France, they’re killing civilians in a war that’s not making sense any more.

So Muslims counted?

Yes. From an American perspective they did.

Now from the French point of view, they were fighting to maintain control over their territory. This is something that is often lost in historical translation, but it needs to be restated. French leaders, when they went to war in Algeria in 1954, were immediately supported by the Communist Party in France. One reason the Communists supported French rule is because they viewed it as siding with the European workers there, and the labor unions themselves in Algeria helped formulate the French reply. Eventually the Communists shift. But they’re completely pro-colonial in the first years. So the forces that buttressed French colonialism were very wide. They ranged from the left to the right.

Is de Gaulle a man of vision?

Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle

I think that you can argue pretty clearly that de Gaulle is a man of vision. The debate is over what the vision was. He is also kind of like Mandela, if you will, in that he ended something his own way and in a way that he had come to only through direct experience with history. [Footnote 1] Remember, he had emerged during France’s darkest hours and in the humiliation of the defeat and the occupation of France by the Nazis.  That said, he was never in favor of ending the French empire. Never, not even as he negotiate the peace in Algeria. Was he pro FLN? Absolutely not. Was he someone who liked to retreat? No way. He did it because he knew that France couldn’t survive economically or politically the continuation of this crisis that Algeria had become. He knew that continued war might destroy France.

Not only that. But there was substantial pushback because there had begun to be these really very serious protests and the anti-draft movement. There were people who rejected the draft and wouldn’t fight.  And after the OAS emerged at the end of the war, it was impossible to maintain order in Algeria because the OAS began killing Algerians, French settlers, and the French military/police alike. The OAS were murderers and thugs, and they destroyed the last chances for the Europeans to remain in Algeria. [Footnote 2]

Ted Morgan’s book, My Battle of Algiers, gets at the issue of how the French in France also resisted the war in Algeria–  they didn’t believe in the war.

Yes, many draftees frankly did not see the point of the war. But the true threat to de Gaulle was from the right, when the putsches started to happen. So de Gaulle had to stand up a couple of times before the cameras to ward off generals and soldiers who threatened to turn on him. Algeria was clearly bad for military morale. But the contradiction was that de Gaulle only got into power through a military coup himself, in ‘58. So he understood that military coups were possible because he himself had been the beneficiary of a military coup.

Remember in ‘58 it got so bad that de Gaulle was put in power by the French military under the threat that if de Gaulle didn’t take power, France was going to be attacked by the French military from Algeria. That’s the threat the French generals made, and they meant it: put de Gaulle in power or else we’ll take France from Algeria.

Did the French military not understand the consequences?

They were thinking that de Gaulle would be the only person who had the moral strength to keep Algeria French. That’s where the deception from their point of view comes in and that’s what makes Jacques Soustelle so interesting. Because there you have a politician from the extreme left who gets sucked into the settler colonial world, and gets spat out the other side of the colonial vortex on the extreme right, to the point where after de Gaulle announced that he will abandon Algeria, as a territory, one of the people who openly supported the assassination of de Gaulle is Soustelle, who had helped put de Gaulle in power in ‘58.

Jacques Soustelle

Jacques Soustelle

Jacques Soustelle was the governor general of Algeria from 1955 to 1956 and he created the educational institution that Mouloud Feraoun eventually taught in. And people like Soustelle represent just that force of gravity that the extreme right has on settler and colonial politics. He was very educated and very politically savvy. He was an anthropologist sympathetic with the indigenous movements. He co-founded the antifascist movement in France in 1936 and then becomes, by most people’s accounts, a fascist by the end of the Algerian war.

That’s what Algeria was for France. It has the capacity to force some of the most personal reversals in positions. It chewed intellectual-politicians like Soustelle up.

The socialists who founded Israel could look in the mirror and say I’m Soustelle.

Right. You see the same kinds of flips. It’s part of how settler politics transformed people in extreme ways.

But you’re saying the French right wing made a wager that was a bad wager; it was a misjudgment and it was on the quote unquote wrong side of history, with disastrous consequences, in that Derrida’s family, which had lived there for hundreds of years– they were essentially expelled, with 1 million other French.

They chose to leave.

Did any stay?

Henri Alleg

Henri Alleg (1921-2013)

Some people like Henri Alleg, who was also Jewish– remember he wrote The Question— he went back to Algeria after ‘62. There were people who went to Algeria after ‘62.  So, I’m saying that it was a choice to leave Algeria. Algerians gave them the choice of staying but only if they would accept Algerian citizenship. They had to become Algerian by nationality. And for whatever reason Derrida’s family didn’t think that that was something they wanted to do. There were real safety concerns for Europeans and Jews after the war, just as there were safety concerns for the Harkis and Algeria “collaborators” with the French after the war. Algerians engaged in a lot of revenge killings at the end of the war.

Benoit Peeters’s biography of Derrida said the family were unsafe.

Yes, they believed they were unsafe. I don’t know if they were unsafe. It is certain that many were not safe in Algeria in 1962.

Were there massacres?

Some of the people who were being massacred in ’62 were the people leaving Algeria. Remember that the OAS was out there killing people, especially those trying to leave. The FLN supporters also killed many. Killing and violence had become the norm, it had become normalized by the war. This is awful stuff.

What about the words, the suitcase or the coffin?

That was for the colonists. This is the era of marketing and slogans. That’s how you market a revolution.

Some slogans are accurate.

But they were not killing all the Europeans. In fact, the French cooperation after the war is really strong.  I have known a lot of people who went back to teach. Etienne Balibar, a really famous French sociologist, he went back to teach at the University of Algiers. They had a whole lot of economic and cultural cooperation in the immediate postcolonial period, particularly in the fields of education and in the oil sectors.

OK, so no expulsion. But, a dream of coexistence ends, right?

I think the reason that 1 million people left is because they considered themselves French. The Algerians said they could stay, they just had to have Algerian nationality. And so the panic– it’s a legitimate panic, right? The FLN had hideous practices of decapitating people, cutting their noses off and stuff like that– that didn’t really bode well if you want to try to convince people to stay in your country after independence, when this has been happening to settlers and Algerians alike. Farmers and settlers were routinely killed by the FLN; they were viewed as part of the occupation. I’d point out that you have large numbers of Algerians who died at the hands of Algerians. That’s something the Algerian government hates to talk about. Revenge killings are a major part of this war, but so was the French violence against Algerians. The French committed what we would call war crimes on a daily basis. Disappearing gets invented here, and then the French start teaching torture and counter-insurgency throughout Latin American and even to Americans at Fort Bragg in the late 1950s.

If Mandela wanted to avert the outcome of Algeria, what is it that he averted?

Part of the thing that South Africa benefited from was not achieving independence as quickly as other countries. I know it’s not politically correct to say this, of course, and it’s not my idea. It’s something Mandela himself came to accept. Mandela understood that South Africans had to emerge from apartheid and at the same time avoid become dictators. Look at the rest of postcolonial Africa. It’s not a good story. It’s not even a good story in Algeria, is it? The historical insight that Mandela takes away from is that, in prison on Robben Island, he saw much of Africa go up in flames and he learned that violence must end, first and foremost and that people must admit their mistakes, openly and publicly and that history has to be used to build not destroy a nation. He learned that identity politics are a nasty business if accompanied by violence.

Algeria had had a sustained war that radicalized and brutalized and created a great divide, and broke the bonds, for seven years or so. True? Am I wrong in saying that didn’t happen in South Africa?

I think you could say that South Africa had a low grade war longer than Algeria did. It had pretty excessive violence. And the ANC took the war to the border states because they could get funding from other governments, including the USSR and Cuba and other proxy governments that were involved. So they had guerrilla movements on the periphery of South Africa that continued the “anticolonial” war longer than Algeria’s. But there wasn’t the kind of intense killing that happened in Algeria, or even the killing of Algerians by Algerians. To be sure, there was killing and extreme violence in South Africa. Mandela himself was arrested, in part, for openly advocating political violence, but the scale of it in Algeria was surreal. The idea of the nation that emerges in Algeria is really interesting because that nation emerges in a context where there are upward of hundreds of thousands of French troops fighting against them, and the French–let’s be honest–these were pretty brutal forces. Torture was routine, it wasn’t just every once in a while. It became banal for the French, just part of the war. There were no polite discussions of waterboarding. It was full-out torture. It became a fundamental part of the military response to the Algerian revolution.

Again, to deescalate this, the way to go forward is you have to have people not fearing that speaking openly and demonstrating openly will cause them harm. The same kind of lesson happens in 1968 in Czechoslovakia. The people go into the streets, the Vaclav Havel types, they think that the world is going to side with them because it’s the right thing for the world community to do, that the world won’t let this moment pass them by. And they’re wrong. Just kind of like the debate about Syria that is happening right now.

But in Egypt, they went into Tahrir and the world actually supported them, the media did, and Mubarak collapsed.

But the military just sat there and waited it out. The Egyptian military, it’s pretty clear to me, had a strategy of how to do this. They were going to let democracy start, pretend that it was real, and the moment the democracy emerged with images that contradicted the military, it was shut down. Egypt just followed the tactics that the Algerian military did in the 1990s there to a letter. Egypt is still completely under the thumb of the military. It’s clearly not a good time for freedom there.

If my goal were to preserve the Jewish population in Israel– there are 6 million Jews in Israel/Palestine and I personally want a one-state democracy– how do I do that?  What should I be telling Israel to do?

I’d go back to the moment that Kennedy gave his speech that I mentioned in July 1957. It’s a moment when things are still possible [in Algeria]. And so you’d have to ask is it possible to have Arabs and Jews living together in one state. You have to give equal political weight to all the given elements. Right? One vote is one vote, and people have to have the right. Let’s say that there are X number of non-Jewish people in that territory. Then the politics has to be real, it has to represent the voice of those people. There is no way forward until the justifications for violence are put aside and until compromise is reached, and until it is real.

Were there discussions of partition in Algeria?

Yes. Some settlers suggested separating the colonial coastal towns from the rest of Algeria. There were discussions about this. But I don’t think it was ever that significant a discussion. One of the debates, though– and this is where Soustelle comes back into it, by the mid 1950s, oil was discovered in the Sahara, and the growing concern for the French was to keep those oil reserves along with it’s nuclear testing sites in Algeria. And Soustelle even wrote a pamphlet to that effect, about the Sahara as a strategic possession that must be maintained by France. In fact, those parts were considered legally separate during the French Algerian war, because they were specifically related to energy and security. They were part of the energy structure.

So both sides honored that?

Well, the Algerians didn’t have a say in it until later, but in the Evian accords, these issues are a big part of the negotiations that eventually brought about the cease-fire in March 1962.

I read in Algerian Chronicles, by Camus, ’58, he says this country can’t be torn apart, a reference to partition.

Camus wants to have a notion of federation. There was a strong movement of people who had supported federation. But again, in ‘45 federation was probably impossible, not after that kind of war.

Why does that mean, federation is not possible?

Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon

It’s not a realistic goal because the violence had escalated to such a degree. And remember that by ‘57, ‘58 there were theoreticians of violence, like Frantz Fanon. And they had not only a political idea of it, but a philosophical idea of the utility of violence. And this is one of the criticisms I have with people like Fanon, who was an unbelievably brilliant person but somewhat irresponsible. I’m alone here; there just isn’t a very critical understanding of the negative effect of people like Fanon on Algerian nationalism. But if you have nationalists advocating that kind of extreme violence, and it sounds really logical as a piece of literature, putting it into practice is quite another thing.  And then developing a national idea and the hegemonic state that comes out of that–it’s not an accident to me that Algeria took the course it did. Now, of course, Fanon didn’t create any of this. He was merely writing about it. Nevertheless, he was a significant figure, and the fact is that it’s really hard to stop violence, especially if you have a theoretical justification of it that gets really embraced by the FLN and then celebrated by the likes of intellectuals like Jean-Paul Sartre. It’s almost delusional what happens, if you really look at the words: killing a settler and a European is like killing two birds with one stone [as Sartre wrote in the Preface to The Wretched of the Earth]…

If an Israeli wants to avert war by changing that society– when is it possible? When do folks still have the ability to make foundational change?

The bottom line is, is if you want coexistence, you have to stop justifying violence. Period. Each side must have the courage to stop using violence. Where has violence gotten either side? Is it really something worth defending, this life of violence? I know this sounds simplistic, but leaders need to be found who have the courage to end this violence. Both sides. And if it’s your side that’s doing it, you have to have the courage to say it’s excessive. That’s why Camus is so important. He said, the violence on both sides was excessive, and he berated the French politicians for acting like imbeciles, he denounced racism in Algeria, and he denounced the “terrorism” of the FLN. He could do this because he understood the country and had command of its issues.

But at that point, he was politically irrelevant?

Albert Camus

Albert Camus

Well kind of—but he was well respected. He’s still the most widely-read French author in the world. [Footnote 3]

If you look at the American Civil War, John Brown who was a brilliant madman and idealist, said that this institution, slavery, will only be removed by “verry much blood,” in the 1850s, when the politicians were doing nothing to remove it, and he controlled events more than anyone else.

Yes, the Civil War is a good example of how sometimes violence is necessary. But when does violence end?

It eliminated slavery in the US, at the cost of 700,000 lives.

I’m not saying in America. I’m saying in Israel. Has the violence in Israel achieved whatever goals there were, those who argued in favor of the violence? Either on the Palestinian side or the Israeli side, what has violence achieved? Maybe if you had a basic simple, just a very simple and honest answer to that, you would have some way to move forward.  Now, of course, I know about the Arab wars about Israel, and I understand and appreciate how these wars changed the debates in Israel about security.

I would say that Palestinians have absorbed that lesson by and large and they are involved in a nonviolent struggle. They care about world opinion. But Israelis would say our violence is necessary because we’re surrounded. So they have created out of fear for their security, a Sparta state. It’s a great question you raised and that’s the answer.

The problem for Israel is, I think, the legitimate concern about people like Ahmadinejad, lunatics who want Israel wiped off the map. That’s a serious concern because it represents a state now making threats against another state. Israeli politics can’t really be fully addressed till you think about these other actors out there, and think about these lunatics like Ahmadinejad. At the same time, I think it’s clear that Israel has pretty strong supporters, and as far as I can see the US position on Israel is not going to go away.

Couldn’t you say the same thing about France? They would never abandon Algeria. Today even John Kerry says that the status quo in Israel and Palestine is unsustainable, and privately god knows what American leaders say. But meantime Israelis will say, The US will always be behind us. I imagine there were French intellectuals and colons saying the same thing back then?

I guess what I would say is, we can’t control how other states are going to view Israel. That’s pretty obvious. Saudi Arabia, these other states, they’ll always have a pretty hostile view of Israel, and I don’t know how and if that can be dealt with. Now if the Saudis become a threat, that’s a different thing. Especially Iran. But with regard to the Palestinian question, the immediate question, how you bring reconciliation forward— it sounds naïve, but fundamentally, you have to have people like Mouloud Feraoun out there, teaching about how you live and coexist with each other. At a fundamental level, if you don’t respect the identity and the dignity of another human being who’s on the other side, there’s no way to move forward.

To end on a kind of Voltairean note, I say we have to get to the point where we can say that don’t agree with you but I support your right to disagree. You need to have more Voltaires out there brave enough to meet disagreement with a firm and friendly handshake.

Le Sueur wished to add these historical notes to his comments:

Note 1. De Gaulle of course was not like Mandela in a lot of ways, but the analogy is useful inasmuch as de Gaulle looked for peace and brought France along with him through a very painful process. here are similar in that they were both considered criminals by their governments and a both fought from the ‘margins’ to liberate their nations from oppressors. De Gaulle was even condemned to death for treason by the Vichy regime. Both were on ‘the right side of history,​’ as it were. However, their positions on colonialism and imperialism could not have been further apart.

Note 2. In fact, it is widely accepted that had not the OAS emerged in the last two years of the war, the French in Algeria may have been able to stay there in some negotiated settlement. It was the fascist violence of the OAS that ended the French settlers’ chances of remaining in postcolonial peaceful Algeria.  And, as I wrote about in the publication history of Assassination! July 14 by Ben Abro, the OAS nearly killed de Gaulle in its assassination attempts.

Note 3. As to Camus’s relevance, I’d say after 1957 he was compromised by the misquoting of him done by Le Monde’s reporter covering his Nobel Prize visit to Sweden. And by 1958, for sure, he felt very isolated from the rest of the anticolonial movement in France. Ironically, of course, I view him as purely anticolonial from the beginning to the end, just not how Sartre or Fanon defined anticolonialism. I have an article on Camus’ anticolonialism coming out in a special issue of the South Central Review edited by the great Camus scholar Robert Zaretsky, in fall 2014.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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63 Responses

  1. Donald on May 3, 2014, 10:12 am

    Very good. I had some disagreements towards the end, when he spoke about the Saudis and the Iranian “lunatics”–it seems to me that he’s fallen into some cliches there.

    But on his own specialty, Algeria, and the lessons he draws, I agree. Algeria was not a success story–it was case where everyone lost. This is ultimately the fault of the French–their extreme violence created the extreme violence of the FLN, but all the same, the victory of the FLN is nothing to be celebrated. They “won”, and a homegrown dictatorship replaced the French dictatorship. Then they had another brutal civil war in the 90’s.

    It’s why nonviolence is the path that gives the best chance of reaching a just solution. Of course, those who oppose BDS are in no position to make that point.

    • RoHa on May 3, 2014, 9:05 pm

      I found it quite surprising – and rather sad – that a history professor would get sucked in by the tabloid image of Ahmadinejad as lunatic who wants to wipe Israel from the map.

      But the rest of this interview is a brilliant exposition of the Algerian case. I remember reading in the newspapers about the violence of the OAS and the FNL when it was happening, but I could not build up a comprehensive picture of what was happening. It just seemed to be unending horror. Probably that’s how it seemed to most Algerians as well, only they weren’t just reading about it.

    • on May 5, 2014, 1:40 am

      my specific interest in this piece is the mention of the O.A.S., which, as described by the writer, were a bunch of “thugs and murderers”.
      i’m just now watching another “jfk assassination” conspiracy show , and have learned something i never knew, about a man called joannides whom the CIA absolutely refuses to release docs about.
      the OAS is extremely interesting because of all the countless jfk assassination shows none of them have EVER mentioned an israeli connection.
      that failure to mention, in and of itself, is highly probative because of the well known history, in america at least, of totally suppressing anything negative concerning israel, and absolutely nothing could be as damaging as an implication of a connection with israel in the assassination of jfk.
      i personally, up until recently, thought the mafia, in conjuntion with cia rogue agents, were responsible.
      show, after show, after show, microanalyses potential suspects and their motives.
      but none of them, whether thru ignorance or jewish media power suppression, mentions how david ben gurion had recently resigned in extreme disgust and anger because of kennedy’s resolute determination to let US and international atomin energy inspectors have free and unfetered access to the somewhat recently discovered israeli nuclear weapoins facility at dimona which had been made effectively weapons grade ready by the theft of highly refined uranium 242 from the jew owned nuclear facilty, NUMEC, at appollo, penn, with the total absolute knowlegde and consent of the owners.
      it has been proferred in the book”final judgement” that the mossad had subcontracted the hit, in a tact to insulate themselves from blame like a mafia boss, to the OAS.
      the mossad had a long and storied relationship with the OAS, after all, it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to understand why; they both wanted severe suppression of the arabs.
      jfk’s constant pressure on gurion to expose the secret dimona plant resulted in gurion’s surprising resignation, and i’m sure he not only wasn’t merely unhappy about it, but knowing the satanic-like vengefulness of a ziopsycho, it isn’t beyond possibility, and probability, that gurion ordered the hit.
      after all, if jfk was successful in exposing and shutting down the zios ultimate project, it would mean the end of israel.
      that’s pretty substantial motive to me!

  2. on May 3, 2014, 10:13 am
    • Hostage on May 3, 2014, 4:13 pm

      Very encouraging critique of Israel by the US negotiating team – This is a landmark of huge proportions.

      True enough. +972 has a good commentary on it too, but you need to read the original article by Nahum Barnea. There’s a translation available from Ynet, “Inside the talks’ failure: US officials open up”,7340,L-4515821,00.html

      The negotiators say that Netanyahu was lying when he claimed Abbas had agreed to trade prisoners for more settlement units during the talks. Despite the fact that they think the Palestinians will get their state without negotiations, it appears the USA is still going to oppose them “tooth and nail” in the UN. So I wouldn’t start praising Obama’s modus operandi for solving this peace fiasco just yet.

      • annie on May 3, 2014, 4:42 pm

        hostage, this information: “The worst part was when Netanyahu said Abbas had agreed to a deal of prisoners for settlement construction. It wasn’t in line with the truth.” became apparent when kerry gave that interview on israeli TV right before the iran/negotiations weekend. it was a radical interview and netanyahu exploded and that was attributed to the iran deal, but he was also fuming over this interview because he had been outed as lying.

        the interviewee ask kerry about the ‘deal’ wrt prisoners/settlements and kerry said no, the prisoner release was in exchange for holding off going to the UN. but the israeli public had been led to believe otherwise.

        i wrote about this here in an article a while back.

      • Hostage on May 3, 2014, 5:55 pm

        “The worst part was when Netanyahu said Abbas had agreed to a deal of prisoners for settlement construction. It wasn’t in line with the truth.” . . . i wrote about this here in an article a while back.

        I know, but some of the regulars here keep repeating the accusation.

  3. brenda on May 3, 2014, 1:04 pm

    ok, Phil, you’ve brought el Cheapo to her knees. Donation on its’ way to Mondoweiss as soon as I figure out how to do it. Great interview. Brilliant choice. And you asked all the right questions.

  4. marc b. on May 3, 2014, 1:04 pm

    Pressed by Barnea on perceived international hypocrisy over Israel’s presence in the West Bank, when the world “closes its eyes to China’s takeover of Tibet, it stutters at what Russia’s doing to Ukraine,” the Americans were quoted as responding: ”Israel is not China. It was founded by a UN resolution. Its prosperity depends on the way it is viewed by the international community.”


  5. Walid on May 3, 2014, 1:19 pm

    Le Sueur probably would have had a lot more to say about the uprising in Algeria and the OAS’ failed putsch in France and on the army’s torture of Henri Alleg, his book describing it, J-P. Sartre’s involvement in it and Camus’ shying away from it. But Phil was basically interested in Israel’s colonization and occupation and was looking for parallels with the Algerian situation and for solutions to the problem with the Palestinians and Le Sueur politely went along but the expense of not going into the more interesting details of the story of the uprising.

  6. geofgray on May 3, 2014, 1:51 pm

    Le Sueur puts his finger on the moment when hope for an Algerian solution was lost, the massacres of 1945. My reading of Max Blumenthal is that Israeli society is at the same point as Algeria was post 1945.

  7. Justpassingby on May 3, 2014, 2:14 pm


    I like your interviews Phil! Great effort.

    • Citizen on May 3, 2014, 9:18 pm

      Me too. It was clear what Phil was trying to see, any analogies.

  8. Krauss on May 3, 2014, 2:16 pm

    Phil’s questions were better than Le Sueur’s answers. I’m not sure if this means that Phil is a brilliant journalist or if Le Sueur is in Nebraska for a reason.

    As for the Algeria/Israel comparison, the more I read about it the less obvious the parallels become.

    First, both Algeria/South Africa had a much smaller European minority. Between 10-15%. In Israel/Palestine, Jews comprise of about 50% of the population and the Israeli Jews already have higher birth rates than Palestinians in the West Bank.

    Secondly, the Boers and the French had shallow roots to their lands. That is not the case with the Jews and Israel, whatever we may think of it. I’m not talking about recent recendency but cultural roots, religious roots. The French could flee back to France. There is no other Jewish state. Many of these people may live in the diaspora from time to time, but there is only one homeland for the vast, vast majority of them.

    Third, the power differences are enormous. Not only are the demographics relatively even, but the economy and the military might of the Jews are vastly superior. In SA/Algeria, the Europeans had better technology but that was countered by the fact that their economy was dependent upon non-European labor.

    If Israel lost all of its Palestinian population, both within or outside the green line, they would not face a situation of economic collapse and in many ways they would be thankful for this removal. They cannot do this, of course, because the political costs would be enormous. But you can’t fight against 7/8 or 9/10 of the population forever, which is what the Boers and the French found out. But Israel is different in this regard.

    • Krauss on May 3, 2014, 2:24 pm

      Trying to predict the future is foolish, of course, but we can at least establishment some historical facts with the present time, as I’ve tried to do when comparing Israel to SA/Algeria.

      Note that I’m not talking about morality, but it is necessary to understand that morality is not enough, as the Tibetan people found out, or indeed, the Jews during the WWII. Power matters.

      From here on out, how you view the future largely depends on how romantic you are. How much will the international community care about Israel’s Apartheid?
      The record of the so-called “international community” is very poor.

      However, unlike SA/Algeria, I think that diaspora politics will play a much greater role in the resolution of the colonization of Palestine. The principal supporter is America and the politics on this issue in America is rapidly changing. Israel is highly unlikely to ever be seriously threatened by the Palestinians within the territory ever again. The main threat is a loss of a veto. Losing military aid is manageable.

      Just to add another reason why I think Algeria is not a good model is that if there is any serious uprisings in Israel, they will immediatedly ethnically cleanse the Palestinians within the Green Line and they can handle any Arab attack from the outside. The Palestinians in the WB are all walled in , with settler communities overlooking the hills. Gaza is basically an open prison with which is sitting ducks.

      But if the American veto is gone, everything changes.

      And in this sense, Israel differs greatly, because of the diaspora politics which are so central in so many ways(like the Israel lobby) which never really had a similar model in either France or the Netherlands/Britain. Sure, the pro-Algerian settler lobby in France had a say, but it was not monolithic like the Israel lobby is in the U.S. where there is one voice and one voice only.

      Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is akin to white ruled-South Africa(if anything it might be worse, as Desmond Tutu has said), but the conflict itself, and how to resolve it, will look a lot different, because the “facts on the ground” as people like to say, are also far different, in terms of power differentials.

      • annie on May 3, 2014, 6:31 pm

        Israel is highly unlikely to ever be seriously threatened by the Palestinians within the territory ever again.

        sometimes less is better krauss. btw, i inquired about one of your pontifications earlier today and noticed you didn’t respond

        could i get your source please, at least one. and there are some brilliant people in nebraska.

      • Krauss on May 4, 2014, 12:14 am


        Yes, Jpost, I know, but the firm behind the poll is serious.

        Key quote:

        In terms of overall support, Hamas’s popularity dropped from 28% in December 2012 to 20% in this poll.

        The poll was taken about a year ago, but given the overall support for Hamas has been very low for years, no matter what poll you looked at, I’d be very surprised if you found several polls taken in the last year or so that showed a huge reversal. But I’d love you to change my mind.

        Jpost, I know, but the firm behind the poll is serious.

        Key quote:

        In terms of overall support, Hamas’s popularity dropped from 28% in December 2012 to 20% in this poll.

        The poll was taken about a year ago, but given the overall support for Hamas has been very low for years, no matter what poll you looked at, and I’d love you to show me one that has shown a massive surge in the last year or so!

        Palestinian polls have showed the same decline in support, even if there may be some bumps at the bottom. Interestingly, the poll also shows low support for military action, and this counts the Gaza population. And reading it through, you get the sense that the Palestinian grassroots are a lot smarter than their leaders are. Like their disdain of the PA and their view of both parties as being factionalist. 90% supported reconciliation.

        Hopefully we can have real elections in both Gaza and the WB to fix the democratic deficit. PA could fare better than Hamas but this is purely because hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are dependent upon their salaries in a direct way.

        As for Nebraska, sure, there are. But not in this case.
        But then again, maybe it isn’t that Le Sueur is bad, maybe simply Phil is a lot better, partly because you can tell from his questions that he has thought about Algeria/Israel much more seriously and for much longer than any of us. You can tell by reading his questions. He often directs the conversation to where Le Sueur wasn’t even going.

        P.S. if I don’t respond to comments it isn’t because I ignored them. I don’t always read the comment section as much as I should, in large part due to time constraints. But it’s good that you followed up on me, I should have provided a source from the getgo and now that is fixed. Given enough time I could probably find you more sources and more recent ones, but that’d require you to use Google Translate among other things. Plus these things shouldn’t be hard to find, it is general knowledge, no matter if you look at Palestinian or Israeli polls of the Palestinian population.

      • annie on May 4, 2014, 6:25 pm

        the firm behind the poll is serious.

        krauss, both Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre and
        palestine center for policy and survey research are supported by USAID and NED funds, distributed thru the PA, both ‘democracy builders’. their polls are frequently sited by right wing sources. and what pollster is going to tell you they are not serious?

        also, as we’ve documented here just recently under ‘bandwagon’ on page 26 of the hasbara handbook it says:

        often it is possible to create the impression of extensive support — through poorly conducted opinion polls..can commission opinion polls…

        i also thought i would point out that before the last election ‘experts’ also thought fatah would win. also this from your link:

        Twenty-eight percent blamed Hamas for the ongoing divisions among Palestinians, as opposed to 19% who held Fatah responsible.

        which leaves 53% of the respondents to the polls unaccounted for. iow, of 1174 people polled only 552 even answered that question.

        in a society living under occupation what reasons might one have for not answering a question of this nature if one believed the pollster was biased or whoever funded the pollster might be biased? i’m really not impressed that a poll funded by a group like NED
        is the best way to gauge what palestinians are thinking.

        A lot of what we [NED] do was done 25 years ago covertly by the CIA[2]

        any other supporting info not including polls, like perhaps a political analysis, might be helpful.

        also, regarding your first blockquote, in 12/2012 hamas had just staved off weeks of bombardment resulting in a successful (perceived at the time) ceasefire agreement. this would indicate their approval ratings would be up at that time. it may have just leveled off back to a normal the 20%.

        and please note how the jpost report did not give comparable data (any data) about fatah’s support during that same period. why? given the several percentile statistics about hamas, the only one solely about the PA (fatah) was this: “More than 55% of those surveyed expressed strong criticism of the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel.”

        i’d be curious to know what those figures were in 2012 by comparison.

        another thing:

        The proportion of Palestinians who support military operations against Israel dropped from 50% in December 2012 to 31% in this poll.

        it’s common for people to support their warriors during attacks and following .

    • Walid on May 3, 2014, 3:48 pm

      “Phil’s questions were better than Le Sueur’s answers. I’m not sure if this means that Phil is a brilliant journalist or if Le Sueur is in Nebraska for a reason.”

      Phil wanted to talk about Israel-Palestine using Algeria as a reference point, Le Sueur wanted to talk about Algeria. They were on riding different busses.

      • Krauss on May 4, 2014, 12:14 am

        Phil wanted to talk about Israel-Palestine using Algeria as a reference point, Le Sueur wanted to talk about Algeria. They were on riding different busses.

        Brilliantly put. And sums up my feelings.

    • Hostage on May 3, 2014, 6:19 pm

      I’m not sure if this means that Phil is a brilliant journalist or if Le Sueur is in Nebraska for a reason.

      Ouch, your bigotry is showing. You might also want to ask yourself if there’s a reason that he is a Senior Associate Member of the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, Oxford? Maybe he just prefers living and working in the Midwest or has family nearby? He got his BA in Montana and his MA and PhD from the University of Chicago. Lots of intelligent, well informed people do work and live in fly over country, e.g. John Quigley, Joshua Landis, & etc.

      • Philip Munger on May 4, 2014, 1:12 am

        Thanks, hostage.

        Many of us who live in “flyover country” or, as I do, off the edge of the map, choose to live where we do, and have turned down offers to relocate to more highly esteemed locations.

      • MRW on May 4, 2014, 1:33 am


        Lots of intelligent, well informed people do work and live in fly over country . . . and Hostage himself.

      • Pamela Olson on September 4, 2014, 1:30 am

        I’m really enjoying Oklahoma. Nice to be close to my nephews, live in a much nicer apartment (with a beautiful river view!) than I could afford elsewhere, play soccer in a park within walking distance (that you don’t have to reserve months in advance or pay for), and work on my next books in peace. :)

        My husband and I are both like, “Why the hell did we live in miserable shoeboxes in Manhattan for so long?”

      • annie on September 4, 2014, 4:28 am

        that’s wonderful to hear pamela, glad you’re happy back home ;)

        My husband and I are both like, “Why the hell did we live in miserable shoeboxes in Manhattan for so long?”

        so you could meet and get to know each other?

    • lysias on May 31, 2016, 6:57 pm

      The English/British/Protestants successfully fought against 7/8 of the population of Ireland for centuries.

  9. Nevada Ned on May 3, 2014, 2:48 pm

    Great article, Phil.

    Yasser Arafat and some Israeli leaders have both studied the Algerian case.

    OK, here’s my reading of the interview. If there is long-run hope of coexistence between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, both sides need to renounce violence.
    While both sides have committed violence in the past, Israel was (and is) much stronger, and has committed most of the violence. (e.g., 99% in the 2008 massacres of Gaza in Operation Cast Lead). The Nakba was possible because of Israel’s near monopoly on violence. Violence has worked for Israel.
    Men like David Ben Gurion, Menachem Begin, and Ariel Sharon don’t really want peace because they gain too much from war. E.g., when Begin and Sharon carried out the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, culminating in the massacres at Sabra and Chatila refugee camps, Israel’s orgy of violence was wildly popular among most Israeli Jews and American Jews, including some Jewish leftists. Begin went on to be Israel’s most decorated statesman, with lots of streets and buildings named after him. Ariel Sharon went on to being Prime Minister.

    The Palestinians have had ineffective leadership. It’s a sorry bunch. People like Abbas are like the Vichy leadership in wartime France.

    The old-time Palestinian proposal of a democratic secular state has almost no support among Israeli Jews. Minorities can be oppressed by the majority, as happened to European Jews at the hands of Christian Europe, and also happened to the Palestinians at the hands of Israel.
    Party resolutions, manifestos, etc, however sincere they may be, are worthless. You have to have Jews and Palestinians working together towards a common goal. The BDS movement is about the only game in town, despite its weaknesses.

    • Walid on May 3, 2014, 4:00 pm

      “… when Begin and Sharon carried out the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, culminating in the massacres at Sabra and Chatila refugee camps, Israel’s orgy of violence was wildly popular among most Israeli Jews and American Jews, including some Jewish leftists. ”

      My recollection of this was that the massacres were not at all popular among Israelis. Leading up to the massacre, 100,000 leftist Israelis had been demonstrating against the invasion all summer and after the massacre, 400,000 demonstrators of all colours demonstrated in TA. The Kahan Commission wiped the floor with Begin, Sharon, Zippori and Eitan for what happened at Sabra-Shatila. Sharon spent about 3 or 4 years in the doghouse before being given the opportunity to get back into politics and the other criminals had streets named after them anyway because that’s the Israeli way of doing things and thanking their heroes for their vile actions.

      • Nevada Ned on May 3, 2014, 10:54 pm

        Were the massacres popular?

        When Begin and Sharon invaded Lebanon, the popularity of the prime minister, Begin soared to 70%. Ben-Gurion’s popularity never reached 50%.

        Bear in mind there were two massacres: a small one (a few thousand deaths) at Sabra/Shatila, and a large one (17,000 deaths) all over Lebanon, using cluster bombs. The small massacre was carried out by Israel, the Falangists, and the Haddadites. The large massacre was carried out by the Israeli military alone.
        The small massacre evoked horror even in Israel, and was condemned as “an act of genocide” by the UN General Assembly. But the large massacre was popular among “the usual suspects.” One thousand US and Israeli rabbis took out full page advertisements in the Israeli newspapers and New York newspapers, condemning the Israeli peace movement for its “poisonous propagada”, and praising Begin and Sharon for their actions “for the safety of Israel”.
        You’re right that the small massacre was investigated by the Kahan commission (Kahan was a judge in the occupied West Bank). With what result? Nobody was fined, not even 2 cents, and nobody spent a day in jail.
        Noam Chomsky has devoted a lot of coverage of the 1982 war in The Fateful Triangle, including a study of the Kahan commission report. Chomsky concludes that the Kahan report was an exercise in damage control, and could not be taken seriously.
        Franklin Lamb, writing in Counterpunch, maintains that everybody involved in the Sabra/Shatile massacres were quietly promoted a few years later.

        Yes, in 1982 there was (for the first time) a significant peace movement in Israel. But if you think they were (or are) powerful, explain why nobody was punished for the massacres.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on May 5, 2014, 4:58 am

        ”Yes, in 1982 there was (for the first time) a significant peace movement in Israel.”

        But what motivated this ‘peace movement’? As you say, the initial invasion was very popular among Israelis, just as every single war in Israel’s history has been. However, by 1982, it was obvious that Israel was not going to win the lightning victory it had hoped – remember that before the invasion, Israelis had sneered that the IDF Army Band would be enough to defeat the Lebanese. Didn’t quite work out that way.

        I’ve often heard Israelis cite this belated and partial ‘peace movement’ as evidence that ”Israelis want peace”. But surely what bothered these people – many of them mothers of conscripts fighting in Lebanon – were not massacres of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, but the pointless deaths of their own sons? By some accounts the Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon claimed up to 20,000 lives, most of them civilians. But that didn’t much bother Israelis at the time. It was the drip-drip killing of the Israeli occupation forces by the resistance which spurred the so-called ‘peace movement’

  10. gamal on May 3, 2014, 4:18 pm

    To understand just how duplicitous Le Sueur is being perhaps the following will help, but it will take some study, as no doubt he is well meaning and well educated, the mask slips however in his dismissal of Fanon as brilliant but irresponsible, the violence of colonialism can not be laid at the door of the colonized, Mandela solved Capitalisms problems black South Africans have benefited little, is Le Sueur the French for Shavit?

    From “Eyes to the South” by David Porter with a foreword by Sylvian Boulouque,d.cWc

    “As his friend, Algerian teacher and writer Mouloud Feraoun ( 1 9 1 3- 1962) (who was later assassinated by the OAS) reported, while he and Camus agreed in their critiques of the needless sufferings of civilians and the abysmal situation of Muslim Algerians, Camus was too rooted in a Eurocentric perspective. “Camus refuses to admit that Algeria could be­ come independent and that he would be forced to show a foreign passport each time he returned-he who is Algerian and nothing else.” However
    despicable the unjustified attacks against civilians, said Feraoun, ” I would like them [Camus and his friend Robles] to understand those of us who are close to them and so different at the same time. I would like them to put themselves in our place. . . . Those who are in charge of French sovereignty in this country have treated me as an enemy since the beginning of these events. . . . [I am asked] to defend the cause of France at the expense of my own people, who may be wrong but who die and suffer under the scorn and indifference of civilized countries.”162″

    and for the nationalist period

    “Seven months later, Courant Alternatif focused on the assassination of very popular Kabyle singer Matoub Lounes to analyze further the continuing context of violence, as well as the Berber Culture Movement. Matoub was a longtime militant for the causes of secularism, Berber culture, and official recognition of the Berber language. He participated in the Berber Spring of 1980, was wounded by the police in the confrontations of October 1988, and was kidnapped and held for two weeks by the GIA in 1994. His as­ sassination on June 25 occurred just a few days before the official date of total, forced Arabization.l6 “This crime sheds more light on the fate that the Islamo-Baathist regime reserves for those with democratic aspirations, especially concerning Berber demands.” Within several hours of his murder being announced, Kabylia was again afire.
    For several months, said the Courant Alternatif writer, Algeria has lost its status as number one news story in the French media. According to the commentators, peace, and tranquility are gradually taking over. In such messages, the same line is curiously presented across the board, and now once again concerning the death of Matoub Lounes. Concerning first Ma­ toub’s personality, he is presented as someone who loved to take risks and flirt with danger. RCD Deputy Noureddine Alt Hamouda, the “witness” most interviewed in the matter, confirmed those images. The fact that he was armed was referenced as if to prove that he looked everywhere for a fight, and thus died-supposedly as he wished-in action.”


    “Who is In Charge? Algerian Power Structures and Their Resilience to Change”
    By Isabelle Werenfels, a mere six page pdf.,d.cWc

    I am watching Marco Williams “Banished”, right now

    • RoHa on May 4, 2014, 1:28 am

      Gamal, I enjoy reading your well-informed posts on ME affairs and culture. Could you give us more, please?

  11. seafoid on May 3, 2014, 4:43 pm

    The French lost Algeria because the memes changed post WW2 and they couldn’t run the old ones any more. Israel is a colonial hangover under the American wing and it is so out of touch with the rest of the world.
    It all depends on the Yanks.

  12. lysias on May 3, 2014, 6:29 pm

    The OAS seems to have had a lot of support from the CIA. Any evidence that they were supported by the Israelis?

  13. RoHa on May 3, 2014, 8:22 pm

    “But aren’t we past the age of colonialism? Wasn’t that what World War II was about?”

    No. It was about saving China and Poland, and putting the Germans and Japanese back into their boxes. But things got out of hand.

  14. RoHa on May 3, 2014, 9:26 pm

    “He’s still the most widely-read French author in the world. ”

    If you want to really annoy the French (and who wouldn’t?), point out to them that the most widely read French author is an Algerian.

  15. Jackdaw on May 4, 2014, 12:34 am

    “France massacred around 45,000 innocents, including women and children”

    What a second.
    After French forces shot and killed demonstrators in Setif, Algerian Arabs went on a revenge rampage and murdered 103 French colonists. The murder of the colonists precipitated the massacres, not the initial demonstration in Setif.

  16. MRW on May 4, 2014, 1:52 am

    The problem for Israel is, I think, the legitimate concern about people like Ahmadinejad, lunatics who want Israel wiped off the map. That’s a serious concern because it represents a state now making threats against another state. Israeli politics can’t really be fully addressed till you think about these other actors out there, and think about these lunatics like Ahmadinejad.

    Except when it’s bullshit. I find it hard to believe that La Sueur hasn’t read the explanation of Ahmadinejad’s quote. This link contains a link to the full transcript in Farsi, which I am sure La Sueur’s colleagues at St. Anthony’s, Oxford, would help him with.

    Then there is the statement by Livni in Haaretz, circa 2007, that Iran is not a threat to Israel. Ah, found it. Livni behind closed doors: Iran nukes pose little threat to Israel — Haaretz magazine details foreign minister’s throughts on Iran.

    EDIT: Fascinating interview, btw.

  17. ToivoS on May 4, 2014, 4:42 am

    Congrats to Phil for great reporting. This long interview brings up many interesting questions. I found myself balking at many of Le Sueur’s answers but the entire exchange serves to advance the discussion.

    Both Camus and Feraoun’s ideas became irrelevant in the the historical context of the Algerian war of independence. Nonviolence became obsolete and violent revolution was the only course available left to those who sought independence for the Algerian people. Fanon was quite correct, given the political reality, in his support of violence. There was, after all, no alternative. Setif provided proof of that.

    That is why using Algeria as a model for the Palestinian independence movement is not relevant today. Unlike what happened in Algeria, it is still possible for those who support Palestinian rights to remain “above ground”. This means that non-violent resistance to Israeli oppression of the Palestinians remains a viable option (in fact, probably the best option). The tools available to the Palestinians are BDS and the diplomatic efforts to place Palestinian rights before the numerous UN agencies and world courts. Not to discount the Palestinians on the street who continue to resist WB occupation and settler violence.

    Today nonviolence remains the best means for the Palestinians. If the Israeli’s decide to pull off a Setif kind of massacre or try to forcibly transfer a few hundred thousand Palestinians into Jordan, then this might require the Palestinian resistance leaders to re-calibrate, go back to the underground and use violence. But as of today, non-violence is the tactic of choice.

    • Donald on May 4, 2014, 9:04 am

      “Nonviolence became obsolete and violent revolution was the only course available left to those who sought independence for the Algerian people.”

      I agree that the violence of the revolution was ultimately the fault of the French, but abstractions like “independence for the Algerian people” puts a pretty face on an ugly reality. On the one side you had the French massacring and torturing people–on the other side you had “the resistance” massacring people. And even that oversimplifies. Within each group, French and Algerian, there were factions killing each other. The end result was that whoever won, it would be a group that did so via massive human rights violations and it would be highly unlikely that they would then set up a government that respected human rights. And in fact they didn’t. And Algeria went through another vicious war in the 90’s.

      When the well-meaning non-violent types lose, everyone loses, except maybe the ruthless victors, who can tell themselves that they did what was necessary. The problem is that they will continue to think the same way once they’ve won. It’s an old story with violent revolutionaries, who win liberation from the brutal colonialists only to reform as a new dictatorship.

  18. NickJOCW on May 4, 2014, 7:51 am

    Saying that stopping the violence is an essential step is like saying a stricken plane must land before the passengers can disembark; I rather share the view of Phil’s Spanish friend at the UN that the prospect of a peaceful solution is passed. Indeed I suspect violence will escalate before it subsides, but it could well be that any violence between, say, Israelis and Palestinians will, as time goes on, become increasingly overshadowed by violence between settlers and other more adaptable Israelis. It already appears that many Israeli soldiers are only under government control to the extent the government countenances their actions, and they can be pretty cheeky about that as Annie’s contribution two days ago well illustrates On the other hand the government does in the end need to be elected and it is not difficult to envisage the interests of the non-settler electorate and the settlers drifting apart under external pressure. It would scarcely be the first time internal dissensions brought that particular house down.

    To my mind, designating Israeli behaviour ‘colonisation’ dignifies it somewhat. It is in fact flagrantly criminal, corrupt and corrupting. It is much more offensive than white South Africa or Algiers which were localised, as is what goes on in Bahrain and elsewhere; it has already contaminated the US political system and much of the rest of Europe, and by extension the UN, or rather what the UN still stands for in the minds of many as the future supra national administration of a post empire global community. Those who see it that way are not necessarily saints nor will they necessarily share any particular concern for the indigenous Palestinians; their concerns may be much deeper and this particular application of BDS could well prove more an intervention by the WHO than the Red Crescent.

    By the bye, I recommend this by Susan Abulhawa in yesterday’s al Jazeera

    • Citizen on May 4, 2014, 8:27 am

      Great article, thanks for the link. Maybe the writer should have used a different phrase than “street fight”? Say, “global street protest”?

    • Walid on May 4, 2014, 8:57 am

      Great article by Abulhawa, Nick.

    • just on May 4, 2014, 9:35 am

      Nick– thanks for sharing that article by Susan Abulhawa! Probably one of the best written & searingly accurate articles I’ve read.

      duly bookmarked.

    • Hostage on May 4, 2014, 1:27 pm

      I rather share the view of Phil’s Spanish friend at the UN that the prospect of a peaceful solution is passed.

      I think that’s true too. If the bodies created by the international community continue to do nothing and shirk their responsibilities violence will be inevitable. If the international courts don’t function or the member state governments don’t enforce the applicable international laws and take the required actions cited in their judgments, that will only strengthen the hands of those elements of Palestinian society that say there is no option, except to take the law into their own hands.

      To my mind, designating Israeli behaviour ‘colonisation’ dignifies it somewhat. It is in fact flagrantly criminal, corrupt and corrupting.

      John Docker wrote a paper for the US Holocaust Museum several years ago explaining that a review of Raphael Lemkin’s unpublished research notes and papers revealed that he had come to the conclusion that all settler colonial societies were inherently genocidal, without exception.

      The older generations of my own family told me their parents had come to the conclusion based on their own experiences that the leaders of the Zionist movement and their agents were basically gangsters and that their primary motivation was earning a living through racketeering and profiteering. I’ve never seen any compelling evidence to the contrary.

      • jon s on May 4, 2014, 4:28 pm

        Hostage , you wouldn’t happen to have any proof
        “that the leaders of the Zionist movement and their agents were basically gangsters and that their primary motivation was earning a living through racketeering and profiteering. “?
        Any facts? examples ?

      • Citizen on May 4, 2014, 5:57 pm

        @ jon s

        This blog has long been a gold mine of data about supporting Hostage’s POV. You ignore all the evidence in MW archives.

        Anyway an objective person looks at it, the Zionist product today is anti-American, and anti-Humanist.

      • Hostage on May 4, 2014, 10:54 pm

        Hostage , you wouldn’t happen to have any proof
        “that the leaders of the Zionist movement and their agents were basically gangsters and that their primary motivation was earning a living through racketeering and profiteering. “?
        Any facts? examples ?

        Yes here are a few examples from my comment archives:
        Herzl was a despot who wanted to found a global empire and assume the role of the head of new royal family.
        * link to
        * link to
        Ben Gurion worked as a union organizer in Plosnk, with other young revolutionaries. They extorted money for Palestine from wealthy Jews at gunpoint. link to
        When he and his comrades finally went to Palestine, they helped found a trade union there that operated as “a state within the state” with its own illegal militias and industries that were involved in corruption, protection rackets, assassinations, bombings, and other acts of terror. The only thing that distinguishes him from gangsters like Jimmy Hoffa is that he acquired a degree of sovereignty through his life of crime, conquest, and ethnic cleansing, before he destroyed his own political career as a result of the scandal surrounding the Lavon Affair, a black flag terror operation.

        Baron Hirsch’s colonization society was an abject failure and scams associated with it were a cottage industry. See Edgardo Zablotsky, The Project of the Baron de Hirsch: Success or Failure? (May 2005). CEMA Working Papers: Serie Documentos de Trabajo No. 289. Available at SSRN: link to

        Zablotsky mentions that many Jewish arrivals wrote letters back to the associations requesting that they end their programs of individual, non-systematic immigration. They complained that they had been swindled by persons who identified themselves as the association’s agents. The letters and responses were published in the Jewish Chronicle. The problem was so bad that the Executive Council of the Anglo Jewish Association (A.J.A) wrote to the Alliance Israélite Universelle (A.I.U.) “with the purpose of putting an end to present immigration and the alleged frauds damaging Jewish immigrants.”

        White slavery and prostitution also were a significant threat that potential emigres faced. See:
        *Donna Guy, Argentina: Jewish White Slavery
        link to
        *The Jewish White Slave Trade and the Untold Story of Raquel Liberman Garland, 2000

        My own grandparents grew-up in failed Zionist colonies in Kansas and Arkansas. In one of them, the superintendent used price tag tactics of vandalizing or repossessing farm equipment and destroying crops to keep the members in line.

        The original colonies in Palestine were started-up with funds from public contributions and indigenous Jewish families from Safed. Montefiore, Hirsch, and the Rothschilds weren’t Ottoman subjects. So they employed agents who were Ottoman Jews to purchase and register their lands. The indigenous Jews would have been better off cultivating idle land and acquiring ownership for themselves under the provisions of the Ottoman Land code. All the land owned by the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association was eventually signed-over to the Jewish National Fund in the 1950s under the terms of James de Rothschild’s will, not to the Jewish tenants or cultivators who actually established them.

        The Rothschild and Hirsch colonies in Palestine and elsewhere were operated as for profit businesses, with cheap immigrant or local labor. They encountered crop failures and setbacks. The model never scaled-up to the level required to rescue millions of Russian refugees. Here’s how one source describes the conditions:

        After five years Ephraim Aaronsohn and a few other hardworking settlers at Zichron were able to wean themselves from the Rothschild subsidies to become independent farmers. Most of the other settlers remained dependent on their monthly stipends, which left them under the authority of the Rothschild agents and resentful of the overbearing attitude and impositions of the pith-helmeted men who micromanaged the colony. Especially for the zealous Zionists, who had come to Palestine with a vision of leading a new life and restoring the dignity of the biblical Jewish kingdoms, the baron’s tepid commitments seemed “ back door” Zionism— piecemeal, furtive, and “ shame-faced.” The efforts of the PICA (Palestine Jewish Colonial Association), which the baron supported, were similarly criticized. Some settlers complained that they had given up one form of oppression in Romania only to find another under the French in Palestine.

        – Ronald Florence, Lawrence and Aaronsohn: T. E. Lawrence, Aaron Aaronsohn, and the Seeds of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Penguin, 2007, pages 42-43

        If you check the comment archives, you’ll find we’ve discussed the fact that Zionists leaders have blown up ships full of Jewish refugees for propaganda purposes, and buildings full of civilians, airports, nuclear reactors – you name it – in places like Palestine, the neighboring states, Tunisia, Iraq, and Iran – all the while denying or covering-up their actual roles for decades and allowing others to take the blame. Zionists have dispatched terrorists who have assassinated friendly government officials and civilians, almost from the moment the movement was established, e.g. Jacob Israël de Haan, Walter Guinness, Manuel Allende Salazar, Folke Bernadotte, Ahmed Bouchiki. & etc. Zionists have also promoted a hateful anti-Gentile doctrine from the moment Pinsker and Herzl picked-up their pens and began to write embarrassing racist claptrap like Judeophobia and Der Judenstaat that rivals anything ever written by Wilhelm Marr.

        By the late 1890s, there was nothing new about the idea of founding a chartered colonial company and fleecing religious pilgrims and the destitute, while forcing them into indentured servitude. The only difference was that Jews in Palestine ended up owing their soul to a Zionist company store operated by, and for, the people running the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association, the Zionist Organization, the Histadrut, et al. The whole enterprise would have gone underwater long ago, if not for billions in bailouts in the form of West German reparations, Import-Export Bank loans, US backed loan guarantees, and millions of olim who are suckered into IDF service in exchange for a bundle of foreign subsidized freebies and illegally acquired land.

        The Zionist Organization of America, and Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, together with the Jewish State Party of the WZO, publicly condemned the Transfer Agreement in 1935 as a form of collaboration with the enemy and accused their Zionist brethren of acting out of simple mercantile self-interest. The World Zionist Congress looked into the matter and discovered that the Anglo-Palestine Bank partnership with the Third Reich was not limited to transactions involving the assets of German Jewish refugees. The Bank was serving as Hitler’s agent and business partner in sales transactions with other countries. When the incoming WZO Executive was ordered to take over the Haavara, it was also bound by secret resolutions which attempted to end that and other shady practices:

        Late last night, amid tumultuous scenes during which delegates of the Jewish State Party shouting “Hitler Agents buy German goods!” demonstratively left the hall, the Congress adopted a resolution favoring the continuance of the Palestine-German barter agreement. The Congress decision, however, removes control of the transfer from the Haavara, special trustee office created for the execution of the pact, and lodges supreme control with the World Zionist Executive.

        Rabbi Silver informed the Congress that the committee had adopted a series of resolutions in connection with the barter pact which were not publishable, but which guaranteed that the transfer be limited only to transactions involving the capital of German-Jewish immigrants and that no goods imported from Germany through the transfer agreement can be sold in countries neighboring Palestine, he said.

        — See
        *Aaron Berman, Nazism, the Jews and American Zionism, 1933-1948, Wayne State University Press, 1990, pages 39 and 40, link to
        *Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “Favor Transfer Agreement Continuance”, September 4, 1945, link to
        The Knesset’s own blue ribbon commission discovered that the Anglo-Palestine Bank and its successor, Bank Leumi, had concealed the deposits of Holocaust victims from their heirs or estates. A New York State commission reported that the Anglo-Palestine Bank, and its Third Reich partners, had charged refugees and immigrants a 30 percent fee for exchanging their currency when they fled Germany. The same or higher rates were charged for currency exchanges involving refugees from other countries who settled in Palestine or the new State of Israel. The Anglo-Palestine Bank served as the new State’s Reserve Bank before it was privatized, although the State of Israel is still the largest shareholder. Journalist and political activist Naeim Giladi reported that the Zionist’s banking subsidiary viewed the newcomers as a source of windfall profits:

        There were ways of getting Iraqi dinars out, but when the immigrants went to exchange them in Israel they found that the Israeli government kept 50 percent of the value.

        – Ben Gurion’s Scandals, 2nd ed, Dandelion, 2006, page 16
        See also:
        *Jerusalem Post, Nadav Shemer, Bank Leumi agrees to pay NIS 130m. to Holocaust victims: Despite high hopes, restitution organization agrees to ‘cut our losses’; money will go to heirs of victims, projects to help survivors, 28 March 2011. link to
        *The JTA report: Holocaust survivors say Israel kept their assets
        link to
        *Ha’aretz, Anshel Pfeffer, “Bank Leumi called account worthless, but Holocaust victim’s sons to get NIS 400,000″, Tuesday, 8 July 2008
        *New York State Banking Department Holocaust Claims Processing Report
        link to
        Readers here already know that the State of Israel played a central role in instigating the mass exodus of Jews from the Arab countries like Iraq, Yemen, and Morocco. See Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs (Jones), Secret [WASHINGTON,] August 2,1951. Subject: Israel’s Concern Re Peace With the Arabs and Other Matters. Participants: Mr. Theodore Kollek, Embassy of Israel and Mr. G. Lewis Jones, NE, Foreign relations of the United States, 1951. The Near East and Africa, page 815 link to
        Several years ago the Jerusalem Post complained that the Histadrut federation of labor unions treasurer who had embezzled funds was being scapegoated and explained that:

        “If there is such a thing as institutionalized corruption – so endemic that it stops being noticed, so pervasive that it makes wrongdoers believe they are doing no wrong – it is the corruption of the Histadrut.”

        – Jerusalem Post, Don Ganchrow, Histadrut scandals, April 6, 1995
        See also:
        *Jerusalem Post, Ben Hartman, ‘State siphoned off Palestinian workers’ insurance money’: Report: For over 20 years, Israel withheld over NIS 1b. from laborers for national insurance, 29 January 2010. link to

        While Israel was in dire financial straits during its early years, Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman claimed the Mossad was “a global economic empire” in the days it was triggering mass exoduses of Jews from Arab countries.

        Here is a scandal involving two Keren Hayesod Executive Board members, who granted themselves private ownership of a $2.5 million subsidiary company that had been established using communal funds.
        Writing in Israel’s Impact, 1950-1951: A Personal Record” journalist Alan Lesser said:

        Despite this and other frantic finance arrangements, the economic situation in Israel continued to grow more desperate from day to day. Zionist leaders finally decided to appeal to the U.S. Congress for additional help. In March, Senator Irving M. Ives, Republican, of New York, told the annual meeting of HIAS that a group of senators was drafting a bill under which Israel would receive a substantial grant-in-aid from the United States. And a few weeks later, it was learned that Representative John W. McCormack, Democrat, of Massachusetts, a powerful friend of Israel for more than twenty years, had introduced a bill authorizing a grant-in-aid for Israel of $150 million. In the Senate, an identical bill was introduced by Senator Paul Douglas, Democrat, of Illinois, with Senator Robert A. Taft, Republican, of Ohio, as its chief cosponsor. These bills marked the beginning of Israel’s participation in the foreign aid program in the United States.
        How desperate Israel’s situation was at this time was graphically described for the Newsletter by a correspondent writing from Tel Aviv. It is probable that few Americans in or out of government fully appreciated the following circumstances:

        I’m convinced that the “delegates and representatives” who come here for a few months and return to the U.S.A. to report on the state of conditions do not and cannot give the full
        picture….Israel’s economy is battered; it just “is not”. Human tempers are sharp and strained to the breaking point in the struggle for survival. The gathering-in of the exiles has been going on almost in a vacuum. The suffering of the newcomers in the transit camps and in ma’abarot is fierce.
        I am aghast at the policy of housing for newcomers. In place of shelter, there are only promises; human beings are left bewildered and overwhelmed. Three factors are obvious: (1) There is not enough money for housing; (2) There is difficulty in getting building materials; (3) It is not at all clear what the Jewish Agency does with the money, or would do even if they had more of it. It is obvious that sums of UJA money are being spent to support paid propagandists to encourage the “ingathering of the exiles.” This may be a very important activity, but it is clear that money raised for the settlement of human beings should not be drained off for other purposes; that other sources should be used to raise funds for Zionist and internal political activities.

        At the same time, I confided to my friend Leftwich that I had “a very juicy scandal involving the Jewish Agency and the Palestine Foundation Fund in the works,” an expose which demonstrated once more the careless manner in which money and position were being manipulated. When I told Louis Lipsky what I was planning to do, he raised no objection— in effect, encouraging me to go ahead. The details of the scandalous scheme and the people involved were described in the following Newsletter report:

        The amazing success story of “Service for Palestine,” which has grown from a modest food and consumer goods agency organized with communal funds three years ago by the Keren Hayesod (Palestine Foundation Fund) to a private firm currently doing a business of over $2.5 million annually, was disclosed this week by Charles Ress, president of Service for Israel (as it is now called), in an exclusive interview with Cross-Section, U.S.A. (Keren Hayesod is a beneficiary agency of the United Palestine Appeal and serves to collect and transfer funds exclusively to the Jewish Agency.) Mr. Ress, a New York attorney and an active Zionist for many years, told how he had suggested and organized Service for Palestine in 1948, while holding office as president of Keren Hayesod, the object being to stimulate trade between the United States and Israel. Business flourished, but in October 1949, the Jewish Agency ordered Keren Hayesod to get rid of Service for Palestine because of complaints that it had become too commercial and was competing with private firms in Israel, Mr. Ress declared, adding that he had protested the order in vain. Subsequently, because the Keren Hayesod board considered it “improper” to auction off the successful subsidiary, Mr. Ress said that he and Mr. Abraham Krumbein, another Keren Hayesod officer, offered to take over the Service for Palestine as their private business. No cash compensation was paid Keren Hayesod, Mr. Ress pointed out, adding that he and Mr. Krumbein personally assumed full responsibility for the “liabilities” of Service. The question of the propriety (or conflict of interest) of the president of Keren Hayesod taking over the flourishing communal enterprise he had organized and continuing it as his private business was fully gone into by the Jewish Agency and the Keren Hayesod, Mr. Ress said. No controls over salary or distribution of the proceeds of Service were retained by Keren Hayesod.

        link to

        That and the racketeering employed to launder the proceeds of pillage and plunder of the Palestinians and their property since 1948 ought to be enough to give anyone food for thought.

      • Jackdaw on May 5, 2014, 3:51 am


        Question: What did Jewish ‘white slavery’ have to do with Zionism?
        Answer: Absolutely nothing.

        So why do you include it in your laundry list of Zionist crimes? Are you daft?

        BTW. What did Ben Gurion have to do with the Lavon Affair? He had nothing to do with it because he was ‘out of government’ when the event took place.

  19. Naftush on May 4, 2014, 11:34 am

    The startling thing about this interview isn’t that Dr. Weiss peppers it with hopeful leading questions about an “Algerian model” while Le Sueur speaks ruefully of Algeria. What startles is the realization that of the two warring societies in I/P, it is the Jewish/Zionist/Israeli one that has shown national maturity, development, and strength from the start while the Palestinian-Arab one barely meets the sociological definition of a nation. It was the latter, not the former, that behaved like pieds noirs in 1947-1949, starting with the abdication of the leadership and the elites. It was the latter, not the former, that prosecuted the total war with a *national* armed force and a full set of *national* civilian institutions to back it up, with full support of the populace. The latter has a hinterland of kindred cultures; the former has none and seeks none. The latter professes indigeneity; the former practices it. By extension, it is the Palestinian Arabs who “should” lose like the Afrikaners in SA and the French in Algeria. This is neither my argument, let alone my prediction; it is simply the outcome of off-the-cuff reasoning.

    • Walid on May 4, 2014, 1:01 pm

      “it is simply the outcome of off-the-cuff reasoning.”

      Your off-the-cuff reasoning is way off base starting with the part about “the Palestinian-Arab one barely meets the sociological definition of a nation. ” To try to explain to you where you went off the track would be futile. You’re repeating the Zionist sing-song about Arabs and especially Palestinians being retarded.

      • Naftush on May 5, 2014, 2:24 am

        I said nothing about Arabs and Palestinians being “retarded.” I also do not deny that the Arabs of Palestine experienced a nakba. I criticized Dr. Weiss’ attempt to lead Dr. Le Sueur toward defining the Israeli Jews as modern-day pieds noirs, stating that by his reasoning the Palestinian Arabs would fit the definition better. I also noted explicitly that this isn’t my claim. Where’s the sing-song?

      • Nevada Ned on May 5, 2014, 2:47 am

        “Off-the-cuff” reasoning?

        More like “off the wall” reasoning”

    • Hostage on May 4, 2014, 1:55 pm

      @ naftush answering you here regarding your ludicrous claim:

      Nowhere in the Oslo Accords, the Quartet Road Map terms of reference, and Resolution 1860 is a State of Palestine referred to. Resolution 1860 segues back to 242, which refers to nothing Palestinian.

      You seem to have a basic literacy problem. The second clause of Security resolution 1860 reads: Stressing that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967 and will be a part of the Palestinian state,

      The PERFORMANCE-BASED ROADMAP TO A PERMANENT TWO-STATE SOLUTION TO THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT contains 13 explicit references to the Palestinian State, beginning in the 3nd paragraph: A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors

      At the outset of Phase I:
      Israeli leadership issues unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, as expressed by President Bush, and calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. All official Israeli institutions end incitement against Palestinians.

      At the ouset of phase II:
      In the second phase, efforts are focused on the option of creating an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders and attributes of sovereignty, based on the new constitution, as a way station to a permanent status settlement.

      Quartet members promote international recognition of Palestinian state, including possible UN membership.

      Resolution 242 never altered the fact that the UN General Assembly had partitioned Palestine into two states. The Oslo Declaration Of Principles said: The aim of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations within the current Middle East peace process is, among other things, to establish a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority, the elected Council (the “Council”), for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, for a transitional period not exceeding five years, leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). It is understood that the interim arrangements are an integral part of the whole peace process and that the negotiations on the permanent status will lead to the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

      John Quigley noted:

      The Declaration of Principles, Netanyahu pointed out, recited that the Government of Israel and the Palestinian team recognized each other’s legitimate and political rights. Addressing Rabin directly, Netanyahu asked:

      [W]hat are the legitimate and political rights of any nation? A state. What are the legitimate political rights of the Israeli nation? A state. What are the mutual legitimate political rights with the Palestinians? A state for them too. And you gave this away not as a beginning of an agreement, but even before the negotiations on the permanent arrangements have started.

      Netanyahu said that the Declaration of Principles presumed Palestine’s statehood. Using a colorful analogy, Netanyahu explained:
      When you walk into the zoo and see an animal that looks like a horse and has black and white stripes, you do not need a sign to tell you this is a zebra. It is a zebra. When you read this agreement, even if the words a Palestinian state are not mentioned there, you do not need a sign; this is a Palestinian state.

      — – Opposition Leader Netanyahu Criticizes Agreement with PLO During Knesset
      Debate, BBC SUMMARY OF WORLD BROADCASTs, Sept. 23, 1993, ME/1801/MED, at 6, available at LEXIS, News Library, BBCMIR File. Cited in John Quigley, Palestine is a State: A Horse with Black and White Stripes is a Zebra, 32Michigan Journal of International Law 749-764 (2011). Available at:

      The UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/48/158D, 20 December 1993 stipulated that the final settlement had to guarantee arrangements for peace and security of all States in the region, including those named in resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, within secure and internationally recognized boundaries. So there has to be an Arab state and that has been made explicit, ever since 1947.

      • Naftush on May 5, 2014, 2:34 am

        I spoke of the non-use of the expression “State of Palestine,” which is a far cry from the indeterminate “a” or even “the” Palestinian state. Resolution 181 speaks of “Independent Arab and Jewish States” *in* Mandatory Palestine — neither a “State of Palestine” nor for that matter a “State of Israel,” because none had been established under any name.
        The very documents you cite condition the emergence of a State of Palestine on a negotiated settlement based on 242/338, meaning (among other things) secure and defensible borders. Once that’s done, and not before, does the State of Palestine gain legitimacy under these documents.

    • Hostage on May 4, 2014, 2:50 pm

      The only startling thing is that your smug racist claptrap got through moderation. As usual, you illustrate that Zionists have the self-absorbed mentality of a bunch of boastful troglodytes, who just can’t grasp how utterly ignorant you look to everyone else. Your “reconstituted” Jewish center of national pride is nothing for the rest of humanity to respect or emulate.

      • Naftush on May 5, 2014, 2:41 am

        It’s not about how I look and what geological feature I inhabit. Nor does Israel have to pass your made-up respect and emulation test to exist and to continue existing. As for the moderator, the site advertises itself as a war of ideas, not a war on them.

    • Citizen on May 4, 2014, 6:01 pm

      How is it you equate French colonial settlers with Palestinians? Do you think the Palestinians invaded France?

    • Sumud on May 5, 2014, 4:42 am

      What startles is the realization that of the two warring societies in I/P, it is the Jewish/Zionist/Israeli one that has shown national maturity, development, and strength from the start while the Palestinian-Arab one barely meets the sociological definition of a nation.


      Israel is immensely immature – a state unable and unwilling to have peaceful relations with it’s neighbours or the indigenous population, a state that hides behind the United States’ UN Security Council veto and one that is dependant on US financial handouts.

      The ‘tough jew’ of Israel acts like he never left the ghetto.

    • talknic on May 5, 2014, 5:47 am

      Naftush “What startles is the realization that of the two warring societies in I/P, it is the Jewish/Zionist/Israeli one that has shown..” .. an habitual liar with its grubby hand stuck in the cookie jar, unable to extract itself.

    • eljay on May 5, 2014, 8:38 am

      >> What startles is the realization that of the two warring societies in I/P, it is the Jewish/Zionist/Israeli one that has shown national maturity, development, and strength from the start while the Palestinian-Arab one barely meets the sociological definition of a nation.

      There’s nothing startling about the success of an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist enterprise that is backed politically, militarily, financially and economically by the U.S.A.

      Turn the tables – strongly back the Palestinians while actively crushing the Israelis for the next 60+ years and assuming control of their land and resources – and you’ll see the “national maturity, development, and strength” of the Jewish/Zionist/Israeli society collapse.

  20. Arun Kapil on May 5, 2014, 4:57 am

    I may have missed it but James LeSueur has neglected to mention one fundamental difference between the Israel-Palestine and France-Algeria cases, which is that the Algerian FLN never laid irredentist claims to metropolitan France. The FLN (and rival MNA) sought independence from France. Period. Once the French accepted the principle of self-determination for Algeria – a principle that was ratified in a referendum submitted to the French electorate (and which included all Algerians) – all that was left to negotiate was the modalities and details (the juridical status of Algeria’s European population, French economic and security interests in Algeria, etc). The Israel-Palestine case differs in major respects. E.g. if Israel were to announce its withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories to the 1967 lines, lift the blockade of Gaza, evacuate all settlements, and recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, this would still not settle the conflict from the Palestinians’ standpoint, as even Palestinians who support a two-state solution – and, as we know, many Palestinians do not support this – have claims on Israel inside the Green Line, notably the “right of return”, which is, in effect, an irredentist claim on the (entire) territory of a sovereign state. The differences between the I-P and France-Algeria cases make attempts to find lessons in the latter for the former highly problematic.

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