This activity is designed to bring students into further reflection on the range of choices associated with rising antisemitism in North Africa and the passage of antisemitic race laws. The readings bring in compelling stories from Algeria and Libya that illuminate the choices and their consequences. Provide the following context for students before they begin to read:
France surrendered to the Nazis in June 1940 and established the puppet government of Philippe Pétain in southern France and the French colonies of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. This pro-Nazi government was also called the “Vichy” government because its administrative center was located in Vichy, France. The Vichy government passed antisemitic race laws, which were enforced differently across French-controlled North Africa depending on the particular colonial history, the proximity of the Jewish communities to centers of colonial power, and the choices of local non-Jewish leaders.
Tell students that they will now transition to identifying the choices that were made by the Jewish community during the rise of antisemitism and violence of war in North Africa.
There are two readings in this activity, Jewish Resistance in Algeria and Interview with Benjamin Doron, Child Survivor from Libya. The first is drawn from a secondary source that focuses on Jewish resistance in Algeria. The second reading is a primary source testimony from Libya. In pairs, students should be assigned one of the two texts with the following instructions:
As you read, look for instances of decision-making and action. Use colored pencils to underline the choices in the text and their consequences. Choose one color for the choice and a second color for the consequences or results of that choice.
After students complete first reading, they can engage in a discussion about the choices and consequences in the texts with the following questions:
- What were examples of choices that stood out to you in the reading?
- What can learning about the choices people made in these readings teach us about the power and impact of our choices today?