Trending Topics:

Between our life and our mother Algeria, we chose our mother: Excerpt from ‘Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter’

on 49 Comments

In November 1954, freedom fighters in Algeria, which had long been occupied by the French, launched a war of liberation against their occupiers. Two of those happiest to hear this news were Zohra Drif and her close friend Samia Lakhdari, both of them young Algerian students at the (French) Faculty of Law in the capital, Algiers. Samia and Zohra tried several times to contact the activists of the “National Liberation Front” (FLN) and its armed wing the “National Liberation Army” (ALN), but because of the depth of the French repression the independence activists were forced to work with tight operational security. Contacting them was hard! In November 1955, Zohra and Samia succeeded in establishing contact, and for the following months, using their ability to “pass” as Frenchwomen when necessary, they acted as couriers for the militants.

Djamila Bouhired (L) and Zohra Drif (R). (Photo: Just World Books)

In summer 1956, the French-colonial “ultra” vigilantes considerably increased their level of violence against the Algerian population and any French settlers suspected of sympathizing with them. Samia and Zohra pleaded with their male ALN contacts to allow them to take part in the armed struggle, arguing that precisely because of their ability to “pass” as French, they could reach targets that would be hard for male fighters to reach. That August, the ALN’s male hierarchy acceded to their request and they joined a small trusted force of female fighters who also included Djamila Bouhired.

Samia Lakhdari. (Photo: Just World Books)

In September 1956, the three young women each planted a bomb in a location used by numerous civilians from among France’s then-million-strong population of settlers in Algeria. Zohra’s bombing, in particular, lay at the heart of the story later made into the iconic film “The Battle of Algiers”. The reprisals undertaken by the French authorities and the ultras were extremely fierce. Djamila Bouhired was arrested the following spring, and in September 1957 Zohra Drif and Samia Lakhdari were arrested.

When Algeria finally won its independence in 1962, all the Algerian political prisoners were released. Zohra Drif was elected to the first Algerian parliament and married a fellow ALN fighter, Rabah Bitat, who in 1978 briefly became Interim President of Algeria. In 2016, Mme. Drif retired from her service as Vice-President of the Algerian Senate.

She originally published her memoir of her time as freedom struggler a few years ago, in French. The new English edition has been translated by Andrew Farrand and has a Foreword from the distinguished Algerian diplomatist Lakhdar Brahimi. In this excerpt, Zohra Drif reflects upon her decision to join the armed struggle in 1956.


I need to explain why our induction into the armed groups was, for us, more than just the result of a desperate search, but an immense honor that “the brothers” bestowed upon us. We read a lot and were very influenced by the writings of the Bolshevik Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, and the anti-Nazi resistance. We read and reread Democracy in America by De Tocqueville and had understood, ever since the end of high school, the fate that France hoped to relegate us to: the same as that of the Native Americans.

This is what France had wanted to do in Algeria with its policy of conquest via massacres, genocides, and smoke-out exterminations, then its policy of colonization via forced dispossession against the Algerian population and their replacement by European settlers. To do all this, France mobilized its imperial army, the Warnier law, the Senatus-Consulte, and its Native Code—which, despite its repeal in 1947, was still in force in 1956. Samia and I had always been convinced that if France hadn’t yet imposed the American Indians’ fate on us, it wasn’t because she didn’t want to, but because she wasn’t yet able to. This was because our people had always resisted, from Emir Abdelkader to Fatma N’Soumeur, from Boubaghla to Cheikh Al Haddad and El Mokrani, from Bouamama up to Zâatcha, and so on.

Our nineteenth century was one of mass slaughter that made rivers of our ancestors’ blood flow, thousands of hectares of their land burned and seized, and countless cities, towns, and villages ransacked and set alight. Our twentieth century was no better; the massacres of May 8, 1945, and August 20, 1955, ended up serving as fuel for the fire that our brave combatants lit on November 1, 1954, and that would not be extinguished until our country’s liberation, and rightly so. We had always believed that our misfortune, our bondage, our negation as a people and nation went hand in hand with the system of settler colonialism.

As a result, we always believed that our liberation and our affirmation would come with the end of colonization. We had always considered it better to die with honor in the armed struggle for dignity and liberation than to survive in the disgrace of tolerating colonization—and by settlement, at that. Liberty, dignity, and honor: three supreme values, three inalienable rights defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Inside the Battle of Algiers.” (Cover: Just World Books)

But France recognized none of these rights for us, a colonized people reduced to “native” status. Does this mean that for France, this so-called “Mother of Arts, of Weapons, and of Laws,” we weren’t human beings? It seems we were not! Never was our people’s status as human beings in our own right, with the sacred rights that went with it, considered or even suggested. At best, they saw us as idle hands for whom someone needed to create a few more jobs, and empty bellies to whom someone needed to throw a few more scraps. Could the “natives” desire freedom and dignity like all peoples? Could we commit to these values, even to the point of making the supreme sacrifice? That was what we held as more than just an ideal, it’s what shaped our souls and our deepest beings in 1956, as it does today.

In a free and independent country, these questions could be a harmless intellectual concern for a student thesis. For Samia and me they constituted a life-or-death issue, individually and collectively. And even when viewed with a critical eye, we considered (and still consider) that only those who had “tasted” the colonial system as we had could respond to it.

Take a young Patrice Lumumba, whose body, soul, and country were subdued, enslaved, and colonized, and compare him with a Belgian or a European of the same age whose body, soul, and country were free and independent, and ask them the same questions. Or, if you prefer, summon the souls of Mahmoud Darwish and his people’s Israeli colonizers, and ask them the same questions. Or, if you like, summon Federico García Lorca from Spain or Aminatou Haidar, the noble Saharawi activist whose people and country are still occupied by Morocco, and ask them the same questions. I could go on like this at length, since, sadly, there still exist peoples and countries deprived of their rights. But what I know already is that a deep sense of honor and attachment to this greatest of values—freedom— would prohibit any dignified and honorable person from engaging in such question games if he or she has never lived in the cynically abject and unfair conditions I have described above.

But those were precisely the conditions in which we Algerians lived in 1956 and in which we had lived for 126 years. That was why, knowing the stakes full well in our hearts and souls, Samia and I made the choice to become “volunteers for death”—“bombers” or bombistes, as they would later call us.

Perhaps the reader of today expects me to regret having placed bombs in public places frequented by European civilians. I do not. To do so would be to obscure the central problem of settler colonialism by trying to pass off the European civilians of the day for (at best) mere tourists visiting Algeria or (at worst) the “natural” inheritors of our land in place of its legitimate children. I will not adopt this position because I hate lies and their corollary, revisionism, whatever they are and wherever they come from. Samia and I did not regret our actions in 1956 or 1957, nor do we today, nor will we ever. I speak here in my own name and on behalf of my friend and sister Samia Lakhdari, who died in the summer of 2012. What’s more, if today, God forbid, my country were to be attacked and occupied by a foreign force, I know that even at my advanced age, propped up on a cane, I would be with all those (and I know there are many of them, in Algeria and elsewhere) who would offer their lives to liberate our land and its people. In declaring this, I seek neither to boast nor to challenge anyone. I am simply trying to convey an idea, a simple conviction related to the concept of responsibility.

In August 1956, Samia and I, assuming full responsibility, chose to become “volunteers for death” to recover and free our mother, Algeria— who had been taken by force, raped, and kidnapped for 126 years—or to die. Faced with the choice between our mother and our lives, like Camus, we chose our mother. Yet in truth, we did not face the same dilemma as Camus, who, ordered to choose between justice and his mother, sacrificed justice. In fact, his mother being his country, France, as a colonial power she was antithetical to justice.

Our own mother being Algeria, her liberation was one and the same with justice.

As for the civilians who perished during the war of national liberation, if they are Algerian, I would propose that they go to the ALN fighters and ask them, “Why did we die?” I know that the ALN will reply, “You are dead because your lives were part of the price we had to pay for our country to be free and independent.”

And if they are French, I would propose that they go see the French authorities and ask, “Why did we die?” I do not know what the French authorities would say, but I would propose to them the one real truth there is: “You died because you were among the hundreds of thousands of Europeans that we used to subjugate and occupy a foreign country, Algeria, so that we could make it our settler colony.”

In any case, this will not make me forget all the French who chose justice and the values of freedom and dignity (of which their own homeland boasted) and joined our camp. I will be eternally grateful. I will not finish this long and necessary clarification without affirming my deep conviction: The only case where a people has the right and duty to take up arms is when its country and territory are attacked by an external force. This is called self-defense. That was our case in November 1954 and throughout our struggle.

Excerpt from Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter by Zohra Drif (Just World Books, 2017.) This excerpt is published here under a Creative Commons license by kind permission of Mme. Drif and Just World Books. 

Zohra Drif will be reading from her memoir in New York City at three events:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m.: A community dinner in the East Village, at Nomad Restaurant, 78 2nd Av (between 4th & 5th Sts.) Space is limited. Please reserve your seats by contacting Hamid Kherief.
  • Friday, Sept. 29, afternoon or early evening: A book talk/discussion at Columbia University. Details t.b.d.
  • Sunday, Oct. 1, 6 p.m.: Mme. Drif to be honored at a Palestinian-American community event and film screening at Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Av (also in the East Village.) Details and tickets here.

And she will be speaking on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017 at Harvard University from 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Helena Cobban

Helena Cobban is the President of Just World Educational (JWE), a non-profit organization, and the CEO of Just World Books. She has had a lengthy career as a journalist, writer, and researcher on international affairs, including 17 years as a columnist on global issues for The Christian Science Monitor. Of the seven books she’s published on international affairs, four have been on Middle Eastern topics. This new series of commentaries she’s writing, “Story/Backstory”, will have an expanded audio component published in JWE’s podcast series. They represent her own opinion and judgments, not those of any organization.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

49 Responses

  1. JosephA on September 26, 2017, 10:54 am


    Thank you for bringing this book to my attention. I look forward to reading it.

  2. Jackdaw on September 26, 2017, 3:06 pm

    Before you get all warm and fuzzy about the Algerian ALN, remember how many Algerian civilians they slaughtered during their dirty civil war in the late 1990’s. 100,000? 200,000?

    • Mooser on September 26, 2017, 6:33 pm

      “Before you get all warm and fuzzy about the Algerian ALN, remember how many Algerian civilians they slaughtered during their dirty civil war in the late 1990’s. 100,000? 200,000?”

      You are right. Perhaps Zionists should take warning by that

      • JeffB on September 26, 2017, 9:44 pm


        I think you missed Jack’s point. He was talking about the 1990s. But you seem to have meant the war against the French and the Zionist understood the risk. That’s why when confronted with a bombing campaign that they were unable to contain easily they isolated the enemy population and created a double defense permitter. They made it close to impossible for people to place bombs in areas frequented by Israelis. They were able to do this because Israel does not have a dependency on Palestinian labor.

      • Mooser on September 27, 2017, 12:29 pm

        Nice to see your comments truncated, “Jeff b”.

      • Naftush on September 28, 2017, 6:19 am

        Of course Zionists take warning by that. It explains why they stress Jewish nationhood, Jewish indigeneity, and yeah, Jewish majority hegemony. I’m for it.

      • Mooser on September 28, 2017, 5:27 pm

        “why they stress Jewish nationhood, Jewish indigeneity, and yeah, Jewish majority hegemony.”

        Actually, you are right, they have indeed “stressed” those things well past the breaking point.
        And the way things are going, you really don’t want to predicate things on a “Jewish majority hegemony.” But I agree, nothing should keep Israel from shrinking to its natural size.
        And “Jewish indigenuity(sic)” I agree, if it was up to you Zionist losers, we’ll all end up indigent.

    • Donald on September 26, 2017, 6:41 pm

      That’s a fair point. Fisk wrote about this in his book about the Mideast ten years ago. The civil war in the 90’s was horrific. Not as bloody as the war for independence, but pretty bad.

      It doesn’t justify the French in any way whatsoever. They were near genocidal conquerors, apartheid practioners, and slaughtered still more on their way out.

      • RoHa on September 27, 2017, 2:20 am

        As a possible justification for the initial French invasion (though not the subsequent French conduct) I will point out that it seems to have finally put a stop to North African piracy and slave-taking.
        I am under the impression that the North African pirates were in a decline anyway.

        If stopping the piracy was not the aim of the French, it does not serve as a justification. Even if this was a motive, I am pretty sure that was not the sole motive the French had.

        But I will let better historians take up this question.

      • Donald on September 27, 2017, 8:35 am

        Horne’s book on the Algerian war says that the population of Algeria before the French conquest was about 3 million and then a combination of war, disease and disastrous famine reduced it by 50 percent. So they were doing more than ending piracy. He then says that French medical advances caused a population explosion in the 20th century.

        Horne has a gift for understatement regarding the French and their, um, negative actions.. At the end of the book when guesstimating the independence war’s death toll he refers to civilians killed ” accidentally” in French military operations.

    • Helena Cobban on September 26, 2017, 8:07 pm

      And we should trust, of all people and all publications, Fouad Ajami and New Republic, to be reporting truthfully on the events of the decennie noire in Algeria, a country whose rulers have always hewed to an imperialist and anti-Zionist position??

      Come on!

      The “Black decade” of the 1990s in Algeria was, in many ways, a dress rehearsal for how, in the past seven years, Saudi-funded jihadists have tried to break a proud, non-sectarian, anti-imperialist Arab state and bend it to their Wahhabist will.

      Yes, the government in Algeria (as in Syria) used excessive force in some instances in their campaign against the jihadist challenge. But in both cases the violence of the jihadists was far worse. For some reason, Fouad Ajami didn’t write about that?

      • Jackdaw on September 27, 2017, 12:11 pm

        Zohra Drif, Fouad Ajami, and Helena Cobban, for that matter, will all be dead and buried, and forgotten in time, and all they had done, or aspired to do, will have amounted to nothing.

        This isn’t Jackie’s opinion, this is an immutable fact.

      • annie on September 27, 2017, 1:04 pm

        in the trolls opinion it’s a “fact”, how very unimpressive.

      • Talkback on September 27, 2017, 1:55 pm

        Jeckdaw: “Zohra Drif, Fouad Ajami, and Helena Cobban, for that matter, will all be dead and buried, and forgotten in time, and all they had done, or aspired to do, will have amounted to nothing.

        This isn’t Jackie’s opinion, this is an immutable fact.”

        Sure. As dead, buried and forgotten in time as those Jews who condemned racism and called for equality. Maybe this was opportunism and nepotism from the get go. Who knows.

      • Mooser on September 27, 2017, 2:20 pm

        “Zohra Drif, Fouad Ajami, and Helena Cobban, for that matter, will all be dead and buried, and forgotten in time, and all they had done, or aspired to do, will have amounted to nothing..”

        Always inspiring to see the uplift, and self-reflection of High Holy Days reflected in the comments.

      • annie on September 27, 2017, 2:58 pm

        LOL! mooser strikes again.

      • Jackdaw on September 27, 2017, 3:32 pm

        “Always inspiring to see the uplift, and self-reflection of High Holy Days reflected in the comments.”

        Dead. Buried. Forgotten.

      • Mooser on September 27, 2017, 4:36 pm

        “Dead. Buried. Forgotten.”

        Gosh, you do us proud “Jackdaw”. Only 75 years or so ago, we were enduring the most terrible of conditions and persecution, and now just a few generations later, we have bred a proud aristocracy, a nobility.
        And the world is your ocean vegetable, which you will open with your beak.

      • Naftush on September 28, 2017, 6:23 am

        Well, it reflects Ecclesiastes, who is heard (or who speaks, in any event) on the Sabbath between Succot and Simhat Torah.

  3. Eva Smagacz on September 26, 2017, 3:09 pm

    So many similarities between Zohra Drif, in her understanding of colonialists/occupiers, and female members of my family, taking part in resistance against occupation.
    These women had something in common: societies they belonged to did not look at them as fully human by occupiers. Their occupiers all considered themselves chosen, superior and ” breed apart”. 32/37

    • YoniFalic on September 26, 2017, 4:14 pm

      Zionism is a particularly vicious form of 19th century-style white racist European genocidal colonialism in which European invaders destroy or expel a native population in order to create space to move in white racist Europeans and possibly a favored non-European population to play a servile role.

      German Nationalsocialism was evil for applying exactly the same settler colonialism in the conquered lands of E. Europe and the USSR.

      Obviously the native Palestinians, the native ethnic Poles, the native Slavo-Turks (Polish Jews), and the native Algerians have experienced the exact same form of evil in historic Palestine, in historic Poland, and in Algeria.

      There is something wrong that German Nationalsocialism is considered so much more evil than French colonialism in Algeria and than Zionism in Palestine. I only seen one major difference: the victims of German Nazism were white Europeans while the victims of French colonialism and of Zionism are darker non-Europeans.

      There is no place on the planet for such ideologies any more than there is a place for 19th century-style white racist enslavement of people that descend from sub-Saharan African populations.

      • Keith on September 26, 2017, 5:05 pm

        YONI FALIC- “There is something wrong that German Nationalsocialism is considered so much more evil than French colonialism….”

        One reason is that focusing on the Nazis and the Holocaust tends to divert attention from the extreme brutality of European colonialism. The British, French, Spanish,etc, were extraordinarily brutal to their subject peoples, except for the local elites who were rewarded for their service to the crown. Most of main stream history is what the elites want the 99% to remember, frequently myths. How many people are aware that when Britain first came to India, that India was as technologically advanced as Britain? And that Britain deindustrialized India? I provide a link to Noam Chomsky discussing this very thing.

      • JeffB on September 26, 2017, 8:54 pm


        The effect of the Nazis was the death of 3% of the world’s population. Even if you assert that Zionism and Algeria are playing the same sport, they aren’t in the same league. There are weeks where the Nazis killed more people than died in Algeria and it wouldn’t shock me if the worst 5 minutes of the effects of the Nazis beat all the people who died as a result of Zionism.

        Me thinks you need a sense of proportion.

      • Mooser on September 27, 2017, 12:34 pm

        Sure “Jeff” Anything Hitler can do, with the 90 million people of Nazi Grmany and all its resources, a couple million Zionists with chutzpah and determination can accomplish.

      • Naftush on September 28, 2017, 6:25 am

        How did a piece on Algeria’s convulsions trigger this boilerplate rant about Zionism and, guess who, the Nazis? Or is it so self-evident that only a Zio-dolt can’t figure it out?

      • Mooser on September 28, 2017, 6:01 pm

        “Or is it so self-evident that only a Zio-dolt can’t figure it out?”

        Well, I wouldn’t have put it that way, (I’m not much on Zio-this or Zio-that) but that’s about the size of it.

  4. YoniFalic on September 26, 2017, 3:48 pm

    As an historian of modern Jews, I can discern no significant difference between the pieds-noirs and Zio invaders like my family in anywhere in Palestine whether in pre-1967 State of Israel or in the Occupied Territories.

    It is worth mentioning that unlike Algerian Muslims Algerian Jews received French citizenship under the Crémieux Decree. Like Polish Jews under the Habsburgs and under the Hohenzollerns, Algerian Jews were specially privileged and served as native collaborators.

    Such facts belie the moronically stupid claim that somehow Jewish immigrants to the USA were not “white”.

    Sometimes people should pay attention to the facts as an historian presents them.

    • Naftush on September 28, 2017, 6:31 am

      No significant difference? Try m-e-t-r-o-p-o-l-e. One party had one; the other didn’t. That’s why the Algerian Jews received French citizenship — to furnish them with an a posteriori metropole, and this, to spare them from farhud-style massacre. If you consider that an unwarranted “special privilege,” it follows that you find the prospect of their annihilation palatable if not favored. I, for one, would the reconstitution of the real Jewish metropole, guess where.

  5. Keith on September 26, 2017, 4:07 pm

    And how did the Jews of Algeria respond to French colonialism? Uri Avnery tells us:

    “When the Algerian war of liberation broke out in 1954, the Jews there had to choose sides. Almost all decided to support the colonial power, France, against the Algerian people.

    That had a historical background. In 1870, the French minister of justice, Adolphe Cremieux, who happened to be a Jew, conferred French citizenship on all Algerian Jews, separating them from their Muslim neighbors.

    The Algerian Liberation Front (FLN) tried very hard to draw the local Jews to their side. I know because I was somewhat involved. Their underground organization in France asked me to set up an Israeli support group, in order to convince our Algerian co-religionists. I founded the “Israeli Committee For A Free Algeria” and published material which was used by the FLN in their effort to win over the Jews.

    In vain. The local Jews, proud of their French citizenship, staunchly supported the colonists. In the end, the Jews were prominent in the OAS, the extreme French underground which conducted a bloody struggle against the freedom fighters. The result was that practically all the Jews fled Algeria together with the French when the day of reckoning arrived. They did not go to Israel. Almost all of them went to France. (Unlike the Moroccan and Tunisian Jews, many of whom came to Israel. Generally, the poorer and less educated chose Israel, while the French-educated elite went to France and Canada.)” (Uri Avnery)

    • Donald on September 26, 2017, 7:00 pm

      Thanks for the link. I have the first edition of Horne’s book on the Algerian War– he paints a very different picture, where a significant fraction of Algerian Jews sided with the Revolution, only to be expelled as a group at the end.

      I don’t have a third source of info and can’t judge, but either Avnery or Horne are being misleading.

      • Keith on September 27, 2017, 12:46 am

        DONALD JOHNSON- “I don’t have a third source of info and can’t judge, but either Avnery or Horne are being misleading.”

        I seriously doubt that it is Avnery. While I sometimes disagree with his interpretation of the facts, usually his statement of facts is accurate. This is consistent with Wikipedia, quoted below.

        “The term “pied-noir” began to be commonly used shortly before the end of the Algerian War in 1962. As of the last census in Algeria, taken on 1 June 1960, there were 1,050,000 non-Muslim civilians (mostly Catholic, but including 130,000 Algerian Jews) in Algeria, 10 percent of the total population.[4]

        During the Algerian War the Pieds-Noirs overwhelmingly supported colonial French rule in Algeria and were opposed to Algerian nationalist groups such as the Front de libération nationale (English: National Liberation Front) (FLN) and Mouvement national algérien (English: Algerian National Movement) (MNA). The roots of the conflict reside in political and economic inequalities perceived as an “alienation” from the French rule as well as a demand for a leading position for the Berber, Arab, and Islamic cultures and rules existing before the French conquest. The conflict contributed to the fall of the French Fourth Republic and the mass exodus of Algerian Europeans and Jews to France.[3][5]”

  6. echinococcus on September 26, 2017, 8:42 pm

    Thank you, Helena Cobban, for bringing this highly significant book to the English-reading public.

    It is much more relevant to the Palestinian struggle than most (or any?) books published on Palestine itself in the last decades.

  7. Maghlawatan on September 27, 2017, 10:13 am

    I think that the measures France took broke Algeria before itwas born. The FLN became paranoid . Many of the best leaders were killed. What was left was useless.

    This song is for all the Algerians who were forced to emigrate to French slums

    France also shafted the pieds noirs who sided with the occupation. Many now vote Front Nationale in the South of France

    • Helena Cobban on September 27, 2017, 12:06 pm

      The pieds noirs didn’t just “side with” the occupation/settler colonialism in Algeria– they were the long-time, direct beneficiaries of its depradations, like colonial settlers everywhere.

      In all the many examples of decolonization that occurred between 1947 (India/Pakistan) and 1974 (Angola & Mozambique), the settlers/colonists were summarily ejected from their positions of privilege and in most cases from the previously colonized land, immediately. The first major instance where this did not happen was in South Africa, in 1992, where the settlers were ejected from their position of political privilege bit got to keep and continue to enjoy all the economic and resource takings/gains they had made from the 400 years of settler colonialism there.

      In Algeria, a small proportion of the pieds noirs chose to stay on the basis of living under a system of political equality, and they contributed their skills to rebuilding the country after the devastations the departing French had visited on it. Those were the pieds rouges.

      For goodness sake don’t blame the FLN for the fascistic, rightwing sentiments of many of the pieds noirs who returned to France. They had benefited mightily from the stolen lands and resources the colonial regime endowed them with. If they didn’t like being upended from their previous position of privilege, whose fault is that?

      • Maghlawatan on September 27, 2017, 2:08 pm

        The French are responsible for the pieds noirs. The FLN are responsible for the sclerotic state of Algeria. There was no romance.

        The kids of pieds noirs are innocent just as the kids of Beitar Jerusalem fans will be innocent. Power doesn’t care about individual families.

        Belgium left its colonies helpless. The British sent Soviet citizen prisoners who had fought with the Germans back to the Soviets at bayonet point.

        In 1798 Highland regiments of the British army went on a killing spree in Wexford , in Ireland, in the course of extinguishing a rebellion. 20 years later there was agitation in the Highlands of Scotland. It was put down murderously by soldiers from Wexford in the uniform of the British army. There is no morality in war.

        One other thing: neoliberalism has been a tragedy for the Arab world. Pre neoliberalism the culture could produce people like Fairuz. Now there is nothing worth talking about.

      • JeffB on September 27, 2017, 2:25 pm

        @Helana —

        The FLN’s purge was not an economic success. Their policies resulted in 2 depressions and a recession within a decade. The pie they got to redistribute was much smaller than it otherwise would have been. And I should note that since Algeria stopped killing large numbers of its own people economic growth has been rather good. It is a success story with a high growth rate, decreasing poverty, increasing wealth and good multipliers. Slaughter / racial purges, even if conducted for noble causes, is bad for the economy.

      • echinococcus on September 27, 2017, 6:59 pm


        Don’t try to drown the topic. Nobody is discussing “romance” or “sclerosis”. Irrelevant as usual. The FLN did kick out the occupier and get independence, and how. Perhaps you weren’t around. Also, it did offer Algerian citizenship to all. And not only were the pieds-noirs exactly as suicidally pigheaded as any Zioinvaders; the Jews among them always were the most rabid, proportionally speaking, and there is not a smidgen of a doubt about that.

        [I don’t get you; yesterday you were blaming the Dutch people for the Nazi occupation of their country and today you turn around and now absolve a pack of genocidal parasites]

      • Helena Cobban on September 28, 2017, 9:40 am

        @JeffB Why are you ignorantly even raising the issue of “slaughter/ racial purges” in connection with the Algerians’ attainment of national independence? Also, “Algeria… killing large numbers of its own people”? Do you know anything about the “Black Decade” of the 1990s that the country was forced to live through due in the main to the Wahhabist assault on the country’s legitimate authorities and national infrastructure. (Which, by the way, was a precursor to the terrible assault the Wahhabists and their allies unleashed on Syria in 2011.) If you’re interested in learning more about the roots of the crisis of the Black Decade, you could try reading e.g. this excellent study.

      • Maghlawatan on September 29, 2017, 11:07 am


        The FLN murdered a lot of their own. The economy collapsed because the Pieds Noirs were the managers.
        It was not ideal.

      • echinococcus on September 30, 2017, 7:20 am


        Meet Jeff. He’ll understand your concerns with what you call economy. And your ideal.

      • JeffB on September 30, 2017, 8:00 am


        @JeffB Why are you ignorantly even raising the issue of “slaughter/ racial purges” in connection with the Algerians’ attainment of national independence?

        Because that was there openly stated policy: suitcase or coffin (La valise ou le cercueil). The 100k Pieds-noirs who remained had constant discrimination and even state violence till they left over the next few decades. The Harkis who didn’t leave in huge numbers had something on the order of 100k executions clearly at those numbers designed to completely shatter the community. The FLN conducted a violent ethnic cleansing with genocidal rhetoric and mass executions. It resulted in the departure of 13% of the population of Algeria. What else would you call that?

        This is all before the 1990s civil war.

      • Mooser on September 30, 2017, 12:21 pm

        “Because that was there openly stated policy:”

        A terrible warning for Zionism. And that was with mighty France clearly responsible, but unwilling, to reverse the situation.

      • JeffB on September 30, 2017, 3:25 pm


        JeffB: “Because that [ethic cleansing / genocide] was their [FLN’s] openly stated policy:”

        A terrible warning for Zionism. And that was with mighty France clearly responsible, but unwilling, to reverse the situation.

        The 2nd intifada was an attempt at an Algeria type war. Unlike the Pieds noirs the Israelis cut off all labor, created a defensible interior border and strictly controlled movement. The Palestinians tried the FLN approach and failed. Jews aren’t in Israel to exploit native labor. That creates huge advantages militarily. The Pieds noirs could potentially have won had they been willing to cut off the labor but they weren’t.

        There is also the not important point that the FLN had more limited aims. There was never any question that the Algerians did not intend to take France. The Palestinians during the 2nd intifada attacked inside the Green Line repeatedly and thus united the Israelis with the settlers. The FLN didn’t attack France in the same way and they were also quite explicit about their final goals. Think about the loses France took against Germany in World War 1. Had the FLN made it about all of France and not just Algeria they would have lost.

        The real question going forward for Israel now is not if they can hold ground, they obviously can. But whether Israel can relax these controls without another wave of bombings. Repression worked, but does that mean that the repression will end up being semi-permanent. That’s what I think needs to be addressed. A way for Israel to relax these controls without having to experience violence in their streets.

      • Talkback on September 30, 2017, 5:51 pm

        JeffB: “The 2nd intifada was an attempt at an Algeria type war.”


        More Than a Million Bullets
        “Maj. Gen. Malka states that the policy of use of military force caused a flare-up of the fire. In other words, the IDF contributed to the escalation. The Palestinians did not expect such a harsh response by Israel. They hoped that the “model” of the 1996 Western Wall tunnel riots would repeat itself. In other words, a brief outbreak of violence, followed by negotiations, in which they would win another few concessions by Israel. Yet it seems that the IDF actions thwarted the possibility of the violence ending quickly, since the events spun out of the Palestinian leadership’s control.”
        read more:

      • Mooser on October 1, 2017, 2:52 pm

        “A way for Israel to relax these controls without having to experience violence in their streets.”

        No rush, “Jeff b” no urgency. After all, Jews have nothing better to do than impose “these controls” on Palestinians. And since there’s no consequences and no costs, hey, why worry.

        But do think of a way, since so many other countries look to Israel for a way to control their Palestinians.

      • Maghlawatan on October 1, 2017, 3:39 pm

        Mooser, if you don’t like Algeria you may be interested in the Crusader staté. Or what Mohammed Ali of Albania and Egypt did when he seized power from the Mamluks who had ruled Egypt for 3 centuries.
        He invited them to the citadel for a meal and executed every motherfucking last one of them.

        Palestine is in a very busy precinct. Property changes hands many times. Power fades .

  8. RoHa on September 30, 2017, 2:21 am

    “The FNL … was not ideal.”

    Some of them don’t stand for the national anthem, either.

    • Mooser on September 30, 2017, 12:16 pm

      At 2:21 am I was asleep in my bed, with only the tip of my nose protruding from under the percales and Pendletons (Glacier and Yakima Camp).

  9. klm90046 on October 2, 2017, 2:07 am

    Palestinians, take heed. There is no freedom without a price. The more vicious the occupier, the greater the price.

Leave a Reply