Little Algeria on the Eastern Mediterranean

With thanks: Michelle

Are we in the Sahara? Somewhere in deepest North Africa?

No, this is Israel. Ashdod, then a town of 30,000, where modern blocks rise out of the dunes, was in the mid 1960s known as Little Algeria – home to several thousand Jews from that war-torn country.

The interviewer is delighted to see that even the policemen here speak French. As most Algerian Jews had French nationality, France would have been the logical choice for these refugees. Some of those interviewed still feel they made the wrong choice: “France is bigger, more beautiful, more fun for young people,” says one teenager. He would like to go and live in France so that he could see the singer Enrico Macias.

Other reasons pull families back to France – one man working in immigrant absorption says that of 300 families who came to Ashdod, only 130 families remain. They move back for sentimental reasons, to join their families in France, or more likely because France gives them compensation (for lost property).

One doctor who plans to return to France blames the social divisions between Ashkenazim and Sephardim for his failure to integrate. But others, who feel professionally fulfilled, say discrimination has not been an issue for them.

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