Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNuméros23Dossier : Citoyennetés : pratique...Jews, Rights, and Belonging in Tu...

Dossier : Citoyennetés : pratiques et ressources

Jews, Rights, and Belonging in Tunisia: Léon Elmilik, 1861-1881

Les juifs, les droits et l’appartenance en Tunisie : Léon Elmilik, 1861-1881
اليهود والحقوق والانتماء في تونس: ليون المليك، 1861-1881
Jessica M. Marglin
p. 167-184

Résumés

À partir du cas de Léon Elmilik, un juif algérien qui a fait carrière en Tunisie au XIXe siècle, cet article propose une lecture de la citoyenneté au-delà de son statut formel, celui centré sur le statut accordé aux citoyens au sens juridique. Elmilik a d’abord oeuvré avec des juifs et des chrétiens, unis dans un même but : celui de moderniser et d’occidentaliser la Tunisie. À cette fin, il a participé au comité local de l’Alliance israélite universelle, écrit dans un journal juif publié à Paris, et a été membre d’une loge maçonnique locale. Dans tous ces modalités d’actions, il joignait sa voix à celle des Européens qui critiquaient les abus commis sur les juifs par les autorités tunisiennes. Mais après avoir accepté un emploi de fonctionnaire en 1873, Elmilik a commencé à défendre le traitement des juifs par l’État tunisien. Loin de présumer qu’Elmilik était un opportuniste, je soutiens dans ce travail que ses engagements distincts, et parfois opposés, représentaient les répertoires multiples dans lesquels les juifs situaient leurs droits ; puisque les droits étaient centraux dans la construction de l’appartenance, le questionnement des différents registres de droits auxquels les juifs faisaient appel offre une vue des multiples niveaux d’appartenance cultivés par les juifs et les musulmans du Maghreb pré-colonial. 

Haut de page

Texte intégral

  • 1 . See Garsin’s presidential address to the lodge Persévérance in Bibliothèque Nationale de France, (...)

1Léon Elmilik was unquestionably an ambitious man. He described himself as a translator, journalist, and lawyer working between Tunis, Paris, and Livorno. He was born in 1830 in Bône (Annaba), Algeria – the same year his homeland was conquered by France, and arguably the beginning of the end of an early modern order in the Mediterranean (McDougall 2017). After moving to Tunis, he aligned himself with local Jews and non-Jews who shared a belief in the need to modernize and Europeanize Tunisia. He worked hard to establish the first local branch of the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU). He joined one of Tunisia’s Masonic lodges, where he pledged to help « spread light » to the « barbarous » shores of North Africa1. And he became a correspondent for L’univers israélite, a Jewish newspaper published in Paris. In these roles, Elmilik styled himself as thoroughly Europeanized – indeed, as thoroughly European, since his Algerian birth granted him French nationality. In these venues, he joined a chorus of European voices decrying the abuses of Jews at the hands of « fanatical » Muslims.

2But just a few years later, Elmilik became an employee of a Tunisian government official. A high-ranking General, Ḥusayn b. ‘Abdallah, hired Elmilik to help him pursue Tunisia’s claim on the estate of Nissim Shamama, a wealthy Jew from Tunis who died in Tuscany in 1873. Once in this role, Elmilik regularly defended the Tunisian government against claims that it abused the rights of Tunisian Jews.

3It is tempting to dismiss Elmilik as a shameless opportunist, a man without real convictions who was ready to tailor his words – indeed, his entire life – to please his audience. He knew what people wanted to hear, and could just as easily write a letter to the Central Committee of the AIU decrying abuses of Jews, as he could defend the Quran as an enlightened text that demanded the « respect » of Jewish law (Elmelich, 1878, p. 3).

4Yet writing Elmilik off as Janus-faced misses the point. His multivocality might have been opportunistic; but it was also emblematic of the different repositories in which Jews located their rights in pre-colonial Tunisia. The premise of this special issue is that citizenship in the Maghrib should not be reduced to the formal, state-centered status accorded to legal citizens. Rather, as historians of early modern Europe have argued, citizenship – in the sense of the possession of civil and political rights usually reserved for natives and naturalized foreigners – was a status based on practice, on the embeddedness of social relations, and only sometimes on formal decrees issued by state authorities (Herzog, 2003; Isin, 2011; Cerutti, 2012; Bargaoui, Cerutti, and Grangaud, 2015). As historians of the Maghrib, insisting on locating rights in formal citizenship would ignore the reality of how Maghribis understood, demanded, and contested their rights in the nineteenth century – and how these demands constructed forms of belonging that were both formal and informal.

  • 2 . This perspective has influenced the historiography of the AIU in North Africa (Chouraqui, 1965; L (...)

5The historiography of North African Jews has tended to portray their rights as an either/or phenomenon: either Jews turned to local authorities to defend their rights, or they believed that only Europeans could do so. For those who associate rights with Europe, Jews’ position as dhimmīs – protected non-Muslim monotheists – made them vulnerable to abuse and the victims of deep-seated anti-Jewish prejudice. In an extreme version, the status of dhimmī deprived Jews of rights altogether. Only the intervention of foreigners could guarantee Jews’ rights to life, security, and property; it was up to international Jewish organizations, foreign diplomats and, eventually, colonizing powers to secure Jews’ rights in the modern Islamic world (Bat Ye‘or, 1985 and 2002; Stillman, 1991; Fenton and Littman, 2010)2. More recently, historians have drawn on Maghribi archives to offer a different perspective on the status of dhimmī. Jews did not lack all rights; they simply had different (and often reduced) rights. If Jews faced certain disabilities qua Jews, they were not the only groups who did; slaves, the poor, women, and other marginals similarly found themselves ranked below free Muslim men (Larguèche, 1999). And according to some historians, far from rescuing Jews, European intercessors who advocated for Jews’ rights in fact drove a wedge between Maghribi Jews and local authorities – thus paving the way for Jews to ally with their French colonizers (Laroui, 1977, p. 310-313; Tawfiq, 1980; Kenbib, 1996, p. 225-228; Ben-Srhir, 2005, p. 162-166, 93-200).

6But Jews did not live their lives as if they had to choose between Europe or their local government. Elmilik’s trajectory exemplifies the multiple ways in which Jews sought to secure their rights. His engagements suggest three repositories of rights for Jews in Tunisia. First, in Elmilik’s work on Tunis’s local AIU committee, his involvement in freemasonry, and his publications in L’univers israélite, he adopted a Eurocentric, Enlightenment-based universalist discourse. Speaking this language allowed him to harness the power of foreign intervention to guarantee the rights of his fellow Jews in Tunis. Second, Elmilik lobbied to preserve Algerian Jews’ right to French diplomatic protection in Tunisia. In so doing, he located the guarantors of rights in the extraterritorial privileges accorded to foreign nationals and protégés in the Islamic Mediterranean. Third, Elmilik’s stint as an employee of the Tunisian government led him to defend the Tunisian state as the most effective repository of Jews’ rights – and to condemn Jews who sought to guarantee their rights through the intervention of foreign diplomats.

  • 3 . Giovanni Levi argues for biographical microhistory as a « cas limite », that is a way to « éclair (...)
  • 4 . For Hebrew petitions to the AIU, see, e.g., Archives of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, Paris (...)

7Jews are a useful entry point to understanding the nature of rights in the nineteenth century Maghrib, in large part because they represent a « cas limite » on a large scale3. Although Elmilik was anything but typical, his willingness to invoke distinct guarantors of rights in fact characterized Jews in pre-colonial Tunisia and in the Maghrib more broadly. Of course, not all Jews were able to muster the same kind of trans-regional connections that Elmilik wielded; his knowledge of French and Arabic was relatively exceptional, and positioned him as useful to both the Tunisian government and to the AIU. But Elmilik was hardly alone in his range of appeals: many Jews without knowledge of French called upon the AIU (writing in Hebrew), just as many Jews without knowledge of Arabic petitioned the Bey in Tunisia or the Sultan in Morocco when they believed their rights were violated4. Rather than focus solely on an imagined East/West divide, Elmilik’s multiple engagements push us to think trans-imperially when approaching the history of Jews in North Africa (Marglin, 2014; Schreier, 2020).

  • 5 . See, e.g., Centre d’Archives Diplomatiques, Nantes (hereafter CADN), Tunis, 712PO/1, 884-912, dos (...)

8Nor were Jews the only ones who sought to guarantee rights in various places: Muslims similarly sought to secure their rights beyond their local government. Throughout the nineteenth century, increasing numbers of Muslims sought extraterritorial privileges and appealed to foreign states for the protection of their rights. Like Jews, Muslims either acquired patents of foreign protection (usually reserved for those working at consulates, but often bought and sold on the black market) or claimed foreign nationality (Kenbib, 1984 and 1996; Ben Slimane, 2013). Particularly relevant for this case study is the fact that a large percentage of people in Tunisia who claimed to be Algerian – and thus to benefit from French nationality – were Muslim5.

9But in other ways, Jews’ marginality in Tunisian society opened up different avenues for claiming their rights. Starting in the mid-nineteenth century, Jews in the Maghrib were more likely to locate the source of their rights outside the framework of the local state than were Muslims. This is in part because of the existence of international Jewish organizations like the AIU that were precisely devoted to lobbying for the protection of Jews’ rights wherever they were oppressed (Leff, 2006, chapter 5). The AIU inserted itself seamlessly into a logic by which non-Muslims across the Middle East were particularly vulnerable and in need of foreign intervention. (In the Mashriq, Christians were also able to appeal to foreigners: Mahmood, 2012). No such equivalent existed for Muslims. In other words, Jews – especially elite Jews like Elmilik – were particularly well-placed to seek justice outside the framework of the state.

Léon Elmilik

  • 6 . See, e.g., BNF, FM2.865, 8 April 1861, Constitution. On Elmilik’s involvement in the AIU, see: Ts (...)
  • 7 . BNF, FM2.865, 26 Mai 1861, requêtes des diplômes qui constatent leur qualité de maçons réguliers (...)
  • 8 . Archives Nationales de Tunisie, Tunis (hereafter ANT), SH.C131. D454.7699: I am grateful to Fatma (...)

10Léon Elmilik (sometimes spelled Elmelick; in Hebrew, Eliyahu Al-Maliḥ; in Arabic, Liyāhu al-Mālīḥ) was born in 1830 in Annaba (Bône), on the western coast of Algeria about 100 kilometers from the Tunisian border6. The first traces of him in Tunisia date to 1854, when he would have been in his mid-twenties7. At this time, Elmilik worked as a translator (in Arabic, French, Hebrew, and Judeo-Arabic). He also owned a bookstore (librairie-papeterie), which he sold in 1876 in order to move to Livorno to work full time for the Tunisian government (Gueydan and Santillana, 1890, p. 58). As early as 1861, Elmilik also practiced as something of a self-taught lawyer; that year he made a plea in a courtroom in Tunis asking for equal treatment for one of his coreligionists who was imprisoned8.

  • 9 . BNF, FM2.865; the lodge was dissolved in 1866. Garsin was born on March 14, 1818 and until 1848 w (...)
  • 10 . BNF, FM2.865, 8 April 1861, Constitution. Other masonic lodges existed in Tunis, including one un (...)
  • 11 . The other masonic archives I consulted for Tunisia, BNF, FM2.155, concern the relatively short-li (...)

11Also in 1861, Elmilik became a founding member of the Masonic Lodge La Persévérance, under the order of the Grand Orient de France. The lodge was led by Solomon (or Vittorio Salomone) Garsin, a Jew from Livorno who obtained French nationality in 18499. As freemasons, Garsin and the members of his lodge were committed to spreading enlightenment to the « barbaric » and « fanatical » corner of the world in which they found themselves. In the speech that Garsin gave at the founding meeting of La Persévérance, he declared that as freemasons, « we must actively work to spread Enlightenment in the countries where the rays of the flaming star shine only feebly »10. Theoretically, masonic lodges were non-sectarian spaces of sociability that brought together members of different religious and socio-economic backgrounds (Campos, 2005, p. 43). In fact, the lodge to which Elmilik and Garsin belonged was made up exclusively of Jews (mostly belonging to the Livornese community, based on their surnames) and Christians (Italian and French, again based on their surnames)11. As Michelle Campos has observed, « while proposing universalism on the one hand, Freemasonry lodges in practice expounded a very Eurocentric – and in the case of the GODF [Grand Orient de France], a Francophile – view of the modern liberal man » (Campos, 2005, p. 53).

  • 12 . AIU, Tunsisie I B 011 b, #29-30, 9 October 1865, Record of the first meeting of the AIU Committee (...)

12Elmilik also became a member of the AIU committee in Tunis from its inception in 1865, first as its secretary and then, from 1873, as vice-president12. Elmilik was by far the most active member of the Tunis committee – at least until he was forced out in 1877 by Giacomo di Castelnuovo, a powerful Livornese Jew living in Tunis (Weill, 2003, p. 173). A large number of the letters written from the local committee to the Central Committee in Paris were signed by him. There was considerable overlap between freemasonry and the AIU, both in Tunisia and in France. From 1865-1873, Garsin was also the president of the AIU committee. Adolphe Crémieux himself, the first president of the AIU, served as the Great Commander of the Suprême Conseil de France (Katz, 1970, p. 156).

13Around the same time that Elmilik joined the AIU committee, he became a correspondent for L’univers israélite, a French-language Jewish newspaper published in Paris starting in 1844. Elmilik wrote a series of articles describing the situation of Jews in Tunisia, most of which concerned abuses against Jews and attempts to demand justice for the victims. Indeed, many of the letters that Elmilik sent for publication in L’univers israélite were verbatim transcripts of his letters to the AIU central committee (or vice versa – it is hard to tell which he wrote first).

14In the 1870s, Elmilik changed course; he convinced a Tunisian government official to appoint him as an intermediary in the disputes surrounding the estate of Nissim Shamama. Elmilik worked to help the government pursue its interests in the lawsuits surrounding Shamama’s estate (Larguèche, 2003; Haruvi, 2007 and 2013, chapter 1; Ben Slimane, 2015; Marglin, 2018). In the summer of 1873, Elmilik was hired by General Husayn, a Tunisian mamluk who was living in Livorno as the government’s representative in the Shamama lawsuits (Oualdi, 2013 and 2014). Elmilik spent increasing amounts of time in Livorno working on the Shamama case, and eventually moved there for years at a time.

Locating Jews’ rights in Europe: freemasonry, the Alliance Israélite Universelle, and the European press

15Elmilik’s work for the AIU, his early articles in L’univers israélite, and his membership in the masonic lodge La Persévérance all reflected an attitude increasingly common among Jews in both North Africa and Europe: that they could best claim their rights with the help of enlightened Europeans working for universalizing goals of justice and equality.

  • 13 . BNF, FM2.865, 2 October 1864, Garsin to Magnan.

16Even before Elmilik took up the mantle of the defense of Jews through the AIU and journalism, he participated indirectly in efforts to seek foreign intervention on behalf of Jews. In 1864, Garsin, the head of La Persévérance, wrote to Marechal Magnan, Grand-Maître de l’ordre maçonnique en France, concerning abuses committed against Jews in Djerba. Garsin described these attacks as a product of « Muslim fanaticism (le fanatisme musulman) »13. Garsin explained that he hoped that the freemasons could do something to help the victims, since the local authorities refused to punish the perpetrators and the French consul’s hands were tied by political considerations. Elmilik might not have penned this letter himself, but his membership in La Persévérance presumed his acquiescence to Garsin’s framing of the issue at hand.

  • 14 . Of the nine articles Elmilik published between 1865 and 1876, all concerned abuses against Jews – (...)
  • 15 . L’univers israélite, v. 21, no. 1, September 1865, p. 38-39.

17A year later, Elmilik began his work for L’univers israélite. Most of his articles concerned abuses against Jews14. His second piece chronicled the denouement of the attack that Garsin had written about the previous year. He explained that the Muslims responsible for the attacks were asked to pay 950,000 piasters to the Jews of Djerba as an indemnity for stolen goods. But the local governor refused to ensure that the payment went through, and instead forced the victims to sign a document attesting that they « renounced any claims on their persecutors » despite not having been paid15. Elmilik summed up the situation of Tunisian Jews as going from « bad to worse »:

  • 16 . L’univers israélite, v. 21, no. 1, September 1865, p. 38-39, at 38.

« Every Jew who is summoned before a state court, or before a shari‘a court, is sure to lose the case if his adversary is Muslim. Jews are increasingly exposed to insults of every kind from a mob of small-time tyrants, and no one pays any attention or comes to their defense »16.

  • 17 . See, e.g., letters to the AIU (Fenton and Littman, 2010; Rodrigue, 1993).

18In his letters to the AIU, Elmilik repeated his emphasis on the defenselessness of Jews, whom he portrayed as subject to the whims of tyrants and the inherent injustice of a biased judicial system. Nor was his voice singular; such tropes were invoked again and again to drive home Jews’ dependence on Europeans to secure their rights, by European and Maghribi Jews alike17.

  • 18 . AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, 30 December 1873, Elmilik to Crémieux.

19This discourse privileged the AIU – and Elmilik as its representative – as the champion of the rights of Tunisian Jews. In a letter to Adolphe Crémieux (then president of the AIU) in 1873, Elmilik was not shy about vaunting his own success at obtaining justice for the oppressed Jews of Tunisia: « Thanks to the relations of the Secretary [i.e. Elmilik] with the principal Tunisian officials, who sometimes grant his demands – either as a favor, or as an act of justice – our miserable coreligionists were not too badly mistreated »18. He went on to describe how he made sure that an official who punished a Jew with the bastonnade was reprimanded. Elmilik pleaded with the vice-presidents of the AIU committee to intervene, but they refused to do anything. Then he went to Khayr al-Dīn, the prime minister, and Elie Shamama, the Receiver General; Khayr al-Dīn reprimanded the official accused of mistreating the poor Jew. Here Elmilik stressed that he intervened both as a well-connected individual in Tunis, and as a representative of the AIU. The implication is that without the AIU’s backing, he might not have succeeded – but also that the AIU was lucky to have someone like him on their side.

20His self-aggrandizement notwithstanding, Elmilik enthusiastically participated in a discourse by which the rights of Jews in the Islamic world could only be protected through the benevolent intervention of international organizations or concerned readers in Europe. But this discourse has to a certain extent overshadowed the way historians have written North African Jewish history – and indeed the history of Jews in the Middle East more broadly. For this reason, it is particularly important to understand Elmilik’s appeals to European organizations and newspapers in light of his later defense of Tunisian government officials. Europe was not the only repository of Jews’ rights, but rather one among many.

Protecting extraterritoriality: Algerian Jews and French nationality in Tunisia

21Ultimately, locating Jews’ rights in the benevolence of international organizations was more aspirational than concrete. The tangible effects of such an approach were somewhat haphazard, depending on the successful intervention of operators like Elmilik. But Elmilik was well aware that foreigners could be made to guarantee Jews’ rights based on more solid foundations and more binding ties. The Capitulations – a series of treaties signed between European states and Muslim sovereigns – guaranteed extraterritoriality to those who could claim foreign nationality or protection. Foreign nationals were under the jurisdiction of their consulates for most matters; even if they had a dispute with a Tunisian subject, foreigners could claim their consul’s intervention on their behalf. Moreover, foreign nationals who suffered abuse at the hands of Tunisian officials found powerful, even eager defenders in their consuls and vice-consuls, who sought « satisfaction » for abuses against their own – often threatening naval bombardment if their demands were not met (Wansbrough et al., 2003; Kenbib, 1996).

22As an Algerian, Elmilik benefitted from extraterritoriality—since by the time he arrived in Tunis, Algerians outside of Algeria were under French protection. Shortly after France’s conquest of Algeria in 1830, Algerians in the Ottoman Empire (including Tunisia) and Morocco began to claim French protection (Cohen, 2005; Marglin, 2021). Long before all Algerians were made French nationals by the Sénatus-Consulte of 1865, and before Jews were made French citizens by the Décret Crémieux, Algerians outside of Algeria benefited from French protection as subjects of the French Empire (Lewis, 2008, p. 811-824; Clancy-Smith, 2011, p. 233-238; Marglin, 2012; Assan, 2012, chapter 9). In theory, at least, the distinction between French citizens (including French people from the metropole, naturalized Europeans, and, after 1870, Algerian Jews) and colonial subjects largely collapsed outside of Algeria.

  • 19 . AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, #103-4, 17 September 1874, Elmilik to AIU President.

23But local authorities in Tunis were suspicious about the legitimacy of Algerians’ claims to French nationality, and at various points tried to impose more stringent criteria for determining who was truly Algerian. In 1864, for instance, the Bey complained to the French government that certain families purporting to be Algerian were actually of Tunisian origin, and thus that the French consul was according French protection to Tunisians19.

  • 20 . L’univers israélite, v. 21, no. 3, November 1865, p. 141-5.
  • 21 . AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, #103-4, 17 September 1874, Elmilik to AIU President.
  • 22 . AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, #103-4, 17 Sept 1874, Elmilik to AIU President. See also AIU, Tunisie I B (...)

24In 1865, shortly after Algerians were declared French nationals, Elmilik took up the cause of these soi-disant Algerian Jews with gusto. Significantly, he framed any attempts to question their French nationality as an attack on Jews’ rights. In the pages of L’univers israélite and in his correspondence with the AIU, Elmilik led a campaign to help these Algerian Jews maintain their status as French nationals20. In a letter to the AIU central committee in Paris, he explained that « unfortunate families are required to remain the subjects of a barbarous power, when it is well known that their origins give them the right to French protection »21. He made sure that the AIU committee intervened: he sent « authentic proofs » to the AIU in Paris, including declarations made by the chief rabbis in which they attested that these families were of Algerian origin. It was common for Algerians to prove their nationality through religious leaders, which is in part why Elmilik’s work on behalf of Algerian Jews made sense as a communally-specific engagement (Hanley, 2017, p. 187; Amara, 2012a, p. 92). Thanks to the AIU’s intervention, Elmilik reported later, all Algerian Jews whose nationality was in question were maintained on the registers of the French consulate22.

25In this case, Elmilik mobilized the discourse of Muslim barbarism and European superiority to justify what was not necessarily a question of humanitarian interest. He framed the matter of Algerian Jews’ nationality as one of justice: not only did these Jews have a right to French protection, but they would be subject to the tyranny of a « barbarous power » should they be removed from the French consulate’s list of Algerians. Elmilik’s letters about the nationality of Algerian Jews employed a discourse of rights. But unlike the way questions of citizenship are usually framed by historians, the matter of Algerian Jews’ rights depended on their membership in another state. Equally significantly, these Algerian Jews were not even citizens of France when Elmilik began his campaign; what mattered in Tunisia was their French nationality, which gave them extraterritorial privileges – not their citizenship, which would have allowed them to vote in French territory. Indeed, throughout the Islamic Mediterranean, jurists and politicians ascribed greater importance to nationality; individuals’ status as full citizens mattered less in extraterritorial contexts (Hanley, 2017).

  • 23 . On Tunisia, see CADN, 1TU/500/85, Registre d’immatriculation des israélites algériens, 1869-76: f (...)

26Elmilik’s interest in the nationality of Algerian Jews represented a question that was of central import for individuals across the Middle East. Thousands of Jews in Morocco, Tunisia, and the rest of the Ottoman Empire claimed Algerian origins, and thus French protection (Cohen, 2005; Marglin, 2012; Hanley, 2017, chapter 8)23. More broadly, increasing numbers of Jews across the Middle East claimed protection or foreign nationality from one Western state or another (Kenbib, 1994 and 1996; Masters, 2001; Marglin, 2016, chapter 6). Nor were Jews alone in benefiting from extraterritoriality, either as protégés of foreign powers or as foreign nationals; Muslims also claimed Algerian origins, and registered themselves in French consulates stretching from Tangier to Damascus (Amara, 2012b and 2015; Marglin, 2012). Nonetheless, Jews were overrepresented among the ranks of those with extraterritorial status. In Tunisia, the entire community of Grana – Jews with origins in Livorno who in the eighteenth century established separate communal organizations from the Twansa, or Tunisian Jews – acquired Tuscan nationality en masse in 1846. After the unification of Italy in 1861, this status was converted into Italian nationality (Masi, 1938). The advantages of foreign nationality loomed particularly large for Jews. Elmilik’s efforts to secure the rights of his Algerian coreligionists by helping to prove their French nationality represented an increasingly common strategy employed by both Jews and Muslims: rather than relying exclusively on local state actors, they sought to guarantee their rights through the extraterritorial privileges accorded to those with foreign protection.

Defending the Government

27Elmilik’s discourse concerning Jews’ rights began to change in the 1870s. Once he began working for a Tunisian government official, his earlier self-positioning came to be at odds with his professional commitments. Elmilik’s ties to the government must have made it impolitic to publish articles and write letters condemning Tunisian officials for the persecution of Jews. Perhaps Elmilik’s personal convictions also evolved, now that he developed close relationships with a number of Tunisian officials – prompting him to temper his criticism of the Muslim authorities and their treatment of Jews. The precise motive for Elmilik’s change of tone is impossible to know for certain. But there is little doubt that Elmilik’s friendlier attitude towards the Tunisian government communicated a newfound faith that Tunisian officials could guarantee rights for Jews.

28Even before Elmilik travelled to Livorno to begin his work on behalf of the Tunisian government, both he and the local AIU committee became embroiled in the government’s relationships with potential heirs in Tunis. Nissim Shamama’s nephew and great-nephew, Joseph and Nathan Shamama, stood to inherit a large chunk of their late uncle’s estate. The Tunisian government tried to pressure them to sign an accord agreeing to hand over part of their inheritance, which would cover the outstanding debts that Nissim had owed the Treasury. In order to avoid signing anything, Joseph and Nathan took refuge in the Italian consulate, where the consul, Pinna, welcomed them. Shortly thereafter, Azuelos, the vice-president of the AIU committee, wrote to Pinna to congratulate him on his actions in favor the Shamamas:

  • 24 . « Une affaire tunisienne », L’univers israélite, v. 28, no. 15, April 1873, p. 458-459.

« The AIU – which takes an interest in all that applies the principles of progress and humanity – has already paid tribute to your actions that honor the mission with which you were entrusted in Tunisia; but that which you have just done merits special praise…You have understood … that today the representatives of great nations are entrusted with the mission to protect the oppressed »24.

  • 25 . Archivio Storico del Ministero degli Affari Esteri, Rome (hereafter ASMAE), Seria Politica, no. 1 (...)

29What emerges from this letter is the standard Europeanizing, even Eurocentric discourse of the AIU. For Azuelos – and, seemingly, for the members of Tunis’s AIU committee – Pinna’s actions were motivated by his desire to protect Tunisian Jews from the barbarism and despotism of their Muslim overlords. And Pinna made good use of this letter, which he sent (in Italian translation) to his superiors in Rome to justify his actions and demonstrate that he was actively furthering Italy’s influence among the Jews of Tunis25.

  • 26 . ANT, SH.C108.D275, Elmilik to General Husayn, 10 Jumada II 1290.
  • 27 . AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, 30 December 1873, Elmilik to Crémieux.

30But Elmilik’s description of this event, penned a few months later, departed radically from Azuelos’ emancipatory rhetoric26. In a letter to the AIU central committee, Elmilik recounted the AIU’s involvement in the « Joseph and Nathan Shamama affair ». He noted that as a creditor of one of the heirs, Elmilik himself had asked « that the custom, indeed the law of this country be applied, by which no one can leave [Tunisia] without having paid his debts or given a surety »27. Not only was Elmilik’s request ignored, but Pinna personally ensured that the Shamamas were allowed to leave for Livorno to pursue their share of the inheritance. Elmilik continued:

  • 28 . Ibid.

« Even though the two heirs of Caïd Nissim were not menaced by any ordeal or torture (because these things have been long forgotten), Mr. Azuelos … remembered that in 1867, he was vice president of our [AIU] Committee in Tunis, and as such he wrote a letter thanking the Consul of Italy for his protection of these two Jews »28.

31According to Elmilik, Pinna’s action hardly « protected the oppressed »: nor did Azuelos, in writing to congratulate the Italian consul, represent the views of the AIU committee more broadly. Indeed, according to Elmilik, Azuelos was not even an active member of the AIU committee anymore. In other words, foreign intervention – both in the form of the unofficial protection that Pinna accorded to Joseph and Nathan Shamama, and in the form of the AIU committee’s support for Pinna’s actions – was unmerited and even against the law.

  • 29 . L’univers israélite, v. 29, no. 10, January 1874, p. 312.
  • 30 . AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, #115-21, 26 January 1875, Elmilik & Bocara to AIU.
  • 31 . L’univers israélite, v. 31, no. 13, March 1876, p. 402-403. See also Elmilik, « Le drame de Tunis (...)
  • 32 . « Le drame de Tunis », L’univers israélite, v. 31, no. 19, June 1876, p. 589-592.

32Elmilik similarly shifted the tone of his articles in L’univers israélite concerning the government’s complicity in abuses against Jews. In December 1873, he wrote: « it is fair to say that every time we have demanded justice from senior officials, we have been satisfied »29. This is quite an about-face from the letters in which he decried the Tunisian government’s inaction in the face of abuses against Jews. Two years later, he wrote to the AIU central committee that relations had improved between the local AIU committee and both Khayr al-Dīn, prime minister since 1873, and Elie Shamama, the Jewish receiver general for the Tunisian government30. In 1876, Elmilik wrote an article in L’univers israélite defending the government against charges made by Garsin, former president of the AIU committee in Tunis31. In the last article he published, in June 1876, he told the story of a Jew who was murdered by a Muslim. Rather than lamenting the absence of justice from local authorities – as he had done in the 1860s – Elmilik praised the Tunisian government’s treatment of its Jewish subjects32.

33The days of writing about the Tunisian government’s complicity in abuses against Jews were over. Instead, Elmilik emphasized that Tunisian government officials could and did protect their country’s Jews, and that the intervention of consuls like Pinna could be both unnecessary and harmful. In so doing, Elmilik located Tunisian Jews’ rights in the sovereign state in which they lived – rather than in the foreign organizations and governments to which he had previously appealed.

Conclusion: the limits of formal citizenship

34Elmilik’s trajectory drives home the notion that Tunisian Jews in the 1860s and 1870s did not attempt to assure their rights solely through recourse to the Tunisian state – or, for that matter, to any state, since international organizations like the AIU could also be powerful guarantors of Jews’ rights. For Elmilik, the legal relationship between an individual and a state – citizenship in the formal sense – was only one possible repository of rights. Because Tunisian Jews’ rights could be guaranteed by multiple entities (the Tunisian government, foreign consulates, and the AIU), Tunisian Jews could locate their belonging – their citizenship, as it is conceived beyond formal state membership – in multiple entities as well.

35Elmilik’s ability to invoke a number of repositories for Jews’ rights went hand in hand with a particularly utilitarian view of citizenship – one at odds with the high-toned register of nationalism, but quite typical of Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike in North Africa and the Middle East (Clancy-Smith, 2011, chapter 6; Stein, 2016; Hanley, 2017). During his work on the Shamama case, Elmilik wrote a number of memos concerning the nationality of Nissim Shamama, which the Italian courts had to determine in order to distribute the estate. One side claimed that Shamama had died a Tunisian national, while the other claimed he had died an Italian. Elmilik was one of the few involved in the case to claim that Shamama had deliberately gone back and forth between the two citizenships:

« For business purposes, the Caïd Nissim sometimes needed to be considered Tunisian and, consequently, to be judged by Tunisian law; and, in other cases in which Italian law was necessary, he invoked his Italian citizenship » (Elmelich, 1878, p. 19).

36Rather than fault Shamama for failing to exhibit adequate patriotism, Elmilik praised him for his « finesse » and his « savoir-faire » (Elmelich, 1878, p. 20). What most politicians and jurists decried as undesirable – dual nationality, implying loyalty to two states at once – was for Elmilik simply a practical approach that maximized Jews’ rights (Boll, 2007).

  • 33 . Elmilik died in Tunis in 1891 at the age of sixty-one, his lawsuit against Husayn’s estate still (...)
  • 34 . Rosa had also worked for Husayn in Livorno, alongside Elmilik (Oualdi, 2020, p. 79-80). On Rosa, (...)
  • 35 . ANT, SH.C104.D254, Eugène Rosa to Regnault, 19 November 1886.

37Eventually, Elmilik fell out of favor with Ḥusayn and his employers in the government. He moved back to Tunis in the 1880s, and spent much of the rest of his life suing Ḥusayn and the Tunisian treasury for payment he alleged was due to him for his work in Livorno33. He became even more alienated from the Tunisian Jewish community: forced out of the AIU in 1877, Elmilik was the target of a nasty letter by Eugene Rosa, a prominent Jewish businessman in Tunis34. Rosa accused Elmilik of having written against France’s colonization of Tunisia in 1881, while « noble French blood was spilled on the ground of Tunisia »35. Perhaps even worse, Rosa claimed that Elmilik had sought to naturalize his children as Spaniards in order to avoid military service. Rosa’s accusations suggest precisely the ways in which Elmilik’s view of Shamama’s citizenship – and his understanding of rights – was becoming problematic in an increasingly nationalized world. In Rosa’s view, citizenship should not be about convenience or « savoir-faire »: it should be about commitment, patriotism, and loyalty.

38Elmilik’s view of rights – and, more broadly of citizenship – was eventually eclipsed by the universalization of nationalist discourse and by states’ monopoly on rights. As Hannah Arendt pointed out in her critique of the newly emerging category of human rights, only states were actually in a position to guarantee the rights of individuals (Arendt, 1949). Yet this was by no means a foregone conclusion even in the late nineteenth century. Elmilik lived in a world in which formal citizenship was one way among many to guarantee rights. Jews and Muslims could draw on multiple sources of rights – suggesting that belonging did not emanate from formal bonds of citizenship alone, but from a range of state and non-state actors.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

Amara Noureddine, 2012a, « 1830, l’improbable frontière : Les écritures précaires de la possession française d’Alger – Le Djérid à l’épreuve de la nationalité algérienne », in Ben Slimane Fatma and Abdessamad Hichem (dir.), Penser le national au Maghreb et ailleurs, Tunis, Diraset-Études maghrébines.

Amara Noureddine, 2012b, « Être algérien en situation impériale, fin XIXe siècle – début XXe siècle : L’usage de la catégorie “nationalité algérienne” par les consulats français dans leur relation avec les Algériens fixés au Maroc et dans l’Empire Ottoman », European Review of History, no 19, p. 59-74.

Amara Noureddine, 2015, « Les nationalités d’Amîna Hanım – Une pétition d’hérédité à la France (1896-1830) », Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée, no 137, p. 49-72.

Arendt Hannah, 1949, « The Rights of Man: What Are They? », Modern Review, p. 24-37.

Assan Valérie, 2012, Les consistoires israélites d’Algérie au XIXe siècle : l’alliance de la civilisation et de la religion. Paris: Armand Colin/Recherches.

Bargaoui Sami, Cerutti Simona and Grangaud Isabelle (dir.), 2015. Appartenance locale et propriété au nord et au sud de la Méditerranée, Aix-en-Provence, Institut de recherches et d’études sur les mondes arabes et musulmans.

Bat Yeor, 1985, The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam, Rutherford, N.J., Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

Bat Yeor, 2002, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, Cranbury, N.J., Associated University Press.

Ben Slimane Fatma, 2013, « Une “dhimma inversée” ? La question des protections dans la Régence ottomane de Tunis », in Dakhlia Jocelyne and Kaiser Wolfgang (dir.), Les musulmans dans l’histoire de l’Europe II : Passages et contacts en Méditerranée, Paris, Albin Michel.

Ben Slimane Fatma, 2015, « Définir ce qu’est être Tunisien : litiges autour de la nationalité de Nessim Scemama (1873-1881) », Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée, no 137, p. 31-48.

Ben-Srhir Khalid, 2005, Britain and Morocco during the Embassy of John Drummond Hay, 1845-1886, London, RoutledgeCurzon.

Boll Alfred M., 2007, Multiple Nationality and International Law, Leiden, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.

Campos Michelle, 2005, « Freemasonry in Ottoman Palestine », Jerusalem Quarterly File, no 22/23, p. 37-62.

Cerutti Simona, 2012, Étrangers – Étude d’une condition d’incertitude dans une société d’Ancien Régime, Montrouge, Bayard.

Chouraqui André, 1965, L’Alliance Israélite Universelle et la renaissance juive contemporaine, 1860-1960 – Cent ans d’histoire, Paris, Presses universitaires de France.

Clancy-Smith Julia, 2011, Mediterraneans: North Africa and Europe in an Age of Migration, c. 1800-1900, Berkeley, University of California Press.

Cohen Rina, 2005, « Les juifs Moghrabi en Palestine (1830-1903) : Les enjeux de la protection française », Archives juives, no 38, p. 28-46.

Conti Fulvio, 2008, « Entre Orient et Ocident – Les loges maçonniques du Grand Orient d’Italie en Méditerranée entre les XIXe et XXe siècles », in Marta Ptericioli (dir.), L’Europe méditerranéenne – Mediterranean Europe, Brussels, P.I.E. Peter Lang.

Elmelich Leon, 1878, Observations relatives au testament de feu le général comte Nissim Samama de Tunis et présenté à Messieurs les juges européenes et aux rabbins israélites, Bône, Imprimerie de J. Dagand, M. Nicolas, Successeur.

Fenton Paul B. and Littman David G., 2010, L’exil au Maghreb : La condition juive sous l’Islam, 1148-1912, Paris, Presses de l’université Paris-Sorbonne.

Ganiage Jean, 1955, « Les Européens en Tunisie au milieu du XIXe siècle (1840-1870) », Les cahiers de Tunisie, no 3, p. 388-421.

Gueydan A. and Santillana David, 1890, Arbitrage : Réclamations du Sieur Liaou Elmilik contre le Gouvernement Tunisien : Mémoire pour le Gouvernement Tunisien, Tunis, Imprimerie française B. Borrel.

Hanley Will, 2017, Identifying with Nationality: Europeans, Ottomans, and Egyptians in Alexandria, New York, Columbia University Press.

Haruvi Yuval, 2007, « Les conflits autour du testament du Caïd Nessim Scemama, d’après quelques sources hébraïques », in Denis Cohen-Tannoudji (dir.), Entre orient et occident : juifs et musulmans en Tunisie, Paris, Éditions de l’Éclat.

Haruvi Yuval, 2013, « The Rabbinical Elite of Tunis in the Modern Era, 1873-1921 [in Hebrew] », Ph.D. Dissertation, Tel Aviv University.

Herzog Tamar, 2003, Defining Nations: Immigrants and Citizens in Early Modern Spain and Spanish America, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press.

Isin Engin F., 2011, « Ottoman Waqfs as Acts of Citizenship », in Ghazaleh Pascale (ed.), Held in Trust: Waqf in the Islamic World, Cairo, The American University in Cairo Press.

Katz Jacob, 1970, Jews and Freemasons in Europe, 1723-1939, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.

Kenbib Mohammed,1984, « Structures traditionelles et protections étrangères au Maroc au XIXe siècle », Hésperis-Tamuda, no 22, p. 79-101.

Kenbib Mohammed, 1994, Juifs et musulmans au Maroc, 1859-1948, Rabat, Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines.

Kenbib Mohammed, 1996, Les protégés : contribution à l’histoire contemporaine du Maroc, Rabat, Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines.

Kuperminc Jean-Claude, 2007, « Le regard des premiers instituteurs de l’Alliance Israélite sur les Juifs de Tunisie », in Cohen-Tannoudji Denis (dir.), Entre Orient et Occident : juifs et musulmans en Tunisie, Paris, Éditions de l’Éclat.

Larguèche Abdelhamid, 1999, Les ombres de la ville : pauvres, marginaux et minoritaires à Tunis, XVIIIe et XIXe siècles, Manouba, Centre de publication universitaire, Faculté des lettres de Manouba.

Larguèche Abdelhamid, 2003, « Nasim Shammama, un caïd face à lui-même et face aux autres », in Fellous Sonia (dir.), Juifs et musulmans en Tunisie : fraternité et déchirements, Paris, Somogy éditions d’art.

Laroui Abdellah, 1977, Les origines sociales et culturelles du nationalisme marocain (1830-1912), Paris, François Maspero.

Laroussi Mizouri, 1994, « La naissance de la franc-maçonnerie dans la Tunisie précoloniale », Institut des Belles Lettres Arabes, 57, no. 173, p. 69-80.

Laskier Michael M., 1983, The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Jewish Communities of Morocco, 1862-1962, Albany, State University of New York Press.

Leff Lisa Moses, 2006, Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century France, Stanford, CA, Stanford University Press.

Levi Giovanni, 1989, « Les usages de la biographie », Annales : Economies, sociétés, civilisations, no 44, p. 1325-1336.

Lewis Mary Dewhurst, 2008, « Geographies of Power: The Tunisian Civic Order, Jurisdictional Politics, and Imperial Rivalry in the Mediterranean, 1881-1935 », The Journal of Modern History, no 80, p. 791-830.

Mahmood Saba, 2012, « Religious Freedom, the Minority Question, and Geopolitics in the Middle East », Comparative Studies in Society and History, no 54, p. 418-46.

Marglin Jessica M., 2012, « The Two Lives of Mas‘ud Amoyal: Pseudo-Algerians in Morocco, 1830-1912 », International Journal of Middle East Studies, no 44, p. 651-670.

Marglin Jessica M., 2014, « Mediterranean Modernity through Jewish Eyes: The Transimperial Life of Abraham Ankawa », Jewish Social Studies, 20, no. 2, p. 34-68.

Marglin Jessica M., 2016, Across Legal Lines: Jews and Muslims in Modern Morocco, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press.

Marglin Jessica M., 2018, « La nationalité en procès : droit international privé et monde méditerranéen », Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, no 73, p. 83-118.

Marglin Jessica M., 2021, « Citizenship and Nationality in the French Colonial Maghreb », in Meijer Roel, Babar Zahra, and Sater James (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Citizenship in the Middle East and North Africa, London, Routledge.

Masi Corrado, 1938, « Fixation du statut des sujets toscans israélites dans la Régence de Tunis (1822-1847) », Revue tunisienne, no 40, p. 155-186, 323-342.

Masters Bruce, 2001, Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Arab World: The Roots of Sectarianism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

McDougall James, 2017, « A World No Longer Shared: Losing the Droit de Cité in Nineteenth Century Algiers », Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, no 60, p. 18-49.

Oualdi M’hamed, 2013, « L’héritage du général Husayn – La pertinence du “national” et de la nationalité au début du protectorat français sur la Tunisie », in Ben Slimane Fatma and Abdessamad Hichem (dir.), Penser le national au Maghreb et ailleurs – Actes du colloque organisé à Tunis 22, 23, et 24 septembre 2011, Tunis, Arabesques.

Oualdi M’hamed, 2014, « Le “pluralisme juridique” au fil d’un conflit de succession en Méditerranée à la fin du XIXe siècle », Revue d’histoire du dix-neuvième siècle, no 48, p. 93-106.

Oualdi M’hamed, 2020, A Slave Between Empires: A Transimperial History of North Africa, New York, Columbia University Press.

Rodrigue Aron, 1993, Images of Sephardi and Eastern Jewries in Transition: The Teachers of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, 1860-1939, Seattle, University of Washington Press.

Schreier Joshua, 2020, « Recentering the History of Jews in North Africa: The View from Oran », French Historical Studies, 43, no. 1, p. 47-61.

Sommer Dorothe, 2015, Freemasonry in the Ottoman Empire: A History of the Fraternity and its Influence in Syria and the Levant, London, I. B. Tauris.

Stein Sarah Abrevaya, 2016, Extraterritorial Dreams: Jews, Citizenship, and the Calamitous Twentieth Century, Chicago, Chicago University Press.

Stillman Norman, 1991, The Jews of Arab Lands in Modern Times, Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication Society.

Taïeb Jacques, 1995, « L’AIU en Tunisie (1878-1939) : un pays difficile, une action féconde », Cahiers de l’Alliance Israélite Universelle, no 11, p. 23-30.

Tawfiq Ahmad, 1980, « Les Juifs dans la société marocaine au XIXe siècle: l’exemple des Juifs de Demnate », in Identité et dialogue : Juifs du Maroc, Paris, La pensée sauvage.

Tsur Yaron, 2003, « Réformistes musulmans et juifs en Tunisie à la veille de l’occupation française », in Fellous Sonia (dir.), Juifs et musulmans en Tunisie : fraternité et déchirements, Paris, Somogy éditions d’art.

Tsur Yaron, 2012, « Religious Internationalism in the Jewish Diaspora: Tunis at the Dawn of the Colonial Period », in Green Abigail and Viaene Vincent (eds.), Religious Internationals in the Modern World: Globalization and Faith Communities since 1750, Basingstroke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Wansbrough J., Inalcik Halil, Lambton A. K. S., and Baer G., 2003, « Imtiyāzāt », in Bearman P. et al. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Islam, Leiden, Brill.

Weill Georges J., 2003, « Les débuts de l’Alliance Israélite Universelle en Tunisie, 1861-1882 », in Fellous Sonia (dir.), Juifs et musulmans en Tunisie : fraternité et déchirements, Paris, Somogy éditions d’art.

Wissa Karim, 1989, « Freemasonry in Egypt 1798-1921 : A Study in Cultural and Political Encounters », Bulletin (British Society for Middle Eastern Studies), 16, no. 2, p. 143-61.

Haut de page

Notes

1 . See Garsin’s presidential address to the lodge Persévérance in Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris (hereafter BNF), FM2.865, 8 April 1861, Constitution.

2 . This perspective has influenced the historiography of the AIU in North Africa (Chouraqui, 1965; Laskier, 1983; Weill, 2003).

3 . Giovanni Levi argues for biographical microhistory as a « cas limite », that is a way to « éclairer le contexte […] à travers ses marges » (Levi, 1989, p. 1331).

4 . For Hebrew petitions to the AIU, see, e.g., Archives of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, Paris (hereafter AIU), Maroc III, C.10b, April 5, 1876, Jewish Community of Azemmour to AIU; Maroc III, 10c.22, August 8, 1893, Aron Zagury to AIU and 10 Av, 5760, Jewish community of Debdou to AIU. For Jews’ appeals to the Sultan of Morocco, see Marglin, 2016, chapters 5-6. Presumably, these appeals were written by scribes who served both Jews who could not write in Arabic and illiterate Muslims (p. 44).

5 . See, e.g., Centre d’Archives Diplomatiques, Nantes (hereafter CADN), Tunis, 712PO/1, 884-912, dossiers d’immatriculation d’Algériens musulmans (as well as 882-883, which are for Muslims and Jews; after 1869, Jews were classified separately). On the French nationality of Algerians outside of Algeria, see: Amara, 2012b and 2015; Marglin 2012.

6 . See, e.g., BNF, FM2.865, 8 April 1861, Constitution. On Elmilik’s involvement in the AIU, see: Tsur 2003, p. 163, and 2012, p. 194-196.

7 . BNF, FM2.865, 26 Mai 1861, requêtes des diplômes qui constatent leur qualité de maçons réguliers au grade de Maître; here, Elmilik is listed as having acquired the grade of apprentice in August 1854 at the Loge Les Enfants choisis de Carthage et Utique, another masonic lodge in Tunis.

8 . Archives Nationales de Tunisie, Tunis (hereafter ANT), SH.C131. D454.7699: I am grateful to Fatma Ben Slimane for this reference.

9 . BNF, FM2.865; the lodge was dissolved in 1866. Garsin was born on March 14, 1818 and until 1848 was a Tuscan subject (Ganiage, 1955, p. 393-394, fn 17).

10 . BNF, FM2.865, 8 April 1861, Constitution. Other masonic lodges existed in Tunis, including one under the Grand Orient of England and another under the Grande Oriente d’Italia (on which, see esp. Conti, 2008, p. 113). On freemasonry in the Ottoman Empire in general, see: Campos, 2005; Sommer, 2015.

11 . The other masonic archives I consulted for Tunisia, BNF, FM2.155, concern the relatively short-lived creation of a Grand Orient de Tunisie (independent of any of the European Orients) in the 1870s. Although no complete roster of members survived in the sources I consulted, there is no indication that there were Muslim members of either the lodges affiliated with the Grand Orient de Tunisie or the other masonic lodges operating in Tunisia. On the other hand, the British lodge Ancient Carthage, created in 1877, had five Muslim members (3.7%) in 1880 (Laroussi, 1994, p. 75). Other parts of the Islamic world had masonic lodges which included significant numbers of Muslim members, particularly Egypt (Wissa, 1989).

12 . AIU, Tunsisie I B 011 b, #29-30, 9 October 1865, Record of the first meeting of the AIU Committee. On the early years of the AIU in Tunis, see esp.: Taïeb, 1995; Weill, 2003; Tsur, 2003 and 2012; Kuperminc, 2007.

13 . BNF, FM2.865, 2 October 1864, Garsin to Magnan.

14 . Of the nine articles Elmilik published between 1865 and 1876, all concerned abuses against Jews – though, as discussed below, those published after 1874 tend to defend the actions of Tunisian government officials rather than condemn them.

15 . L’univers israélite, v. 21, no. 1, September 1865, p. 38-39.

16 . L’univers israélite, v. 21, no. 1, September 1865, p. 38-39, at 38.

17 . See, e.g., letters to the AIU (Fenton and Littman, 2010; Rodrigue, 1993).

18 . AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, 30 December 1873, Elmilik to Crémieux.

19 . AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, #103-4, 17 September 1874, Elmilik to AIU President.

20 . L’univers israélite, v. 21, no. 3, November 1865, p. 141-5.

21 . AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, #103-4, 17 September 1874, Elmilik to AIU President.

22 . AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, #103-4, 17 Sept 1874, Elmilik to AIU President. See also AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, #818-21, 3 November 1876, AIU Committee in Tunis to AIU Central Committee.

23 . On Tunisia, see CADN, 1TU/500/85, Registre d’immatriculation des israélites algériens, 1869-76: for these years alone, 764 individual Jews are registered as Algerians; most have between one and five family members who also benefit from French nationality due to their Algerian origins – meaning that in Tunis during the year 1876, somewhere between 1,000 and 4,000 Jews claimed French nationality in 1876.

24 . « Une affaire tunisienne », L’univers israélite, v. 28, no. 15, April 1873, p. 458-459.

25 . Archivio Storico del Ministero degli Affari Esteri, Rome (hereafter ASMAE), Seria Politica, no. 198/ 1440, 18 March 1873, Pinna to Venosta.

26 . ANT, SH.C108.D275, Elmilik to General Husayn, 10 Jumada II 1290.

27 . AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, 30 December 1873, Elmilik to Crémieux.

28 . Ibid.

29 . L’univers israélite, v. 29, no. 10, January 1874, p. 312.

30 . AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, #115-21, 26 January 1875, Elmilik & Bocara to AIU.

31 . L’univers israélite, v. 31, no. 13, March 1876, p. 402-403. See also Elmilik, « Le drame de Tunis », L’univers israélite, v. 31, no. 19, June 1876, p. 589-92.

32 . « Le drame de Tunis », L’univers israélite, v. 31, no. 19, June 1876, p. 589-592.

33 . Elmilik died in Tunis in 1891 at the age of sixty-one, his lawsuit against Husayn’s estate still pending (ANT, SH.C108.D275.26, translation of a settlement signed by Sidi Mohamed El Aziz Bou Attur and David ben Liah Elmelik). Oualdi claims that Elmilik sided « with the French colonizers » after the two had a falling out in the early 1880s (Oualdi, 2020, p. 39). This may very well have been Husayn’s view of the matter, but in fact the overwhelming evidence suggests that Elmilik was also alienated from the French Protectorate government, given the multiple lawsuits he carried on against Husayn’s estate.

34 . Rosa had also worked for Husayn in Livorno, alongside Elmilik (Oualdi, 2020, p. 79-80). On Rosa, see: « Moreno fils et Cie c. S. A. le Bey de Tunis et Proust », Revue algérienne, tunisienne et marocaine de législation et de jurisprudence, no 4, 1888, p. 229-30; « Héritiers caïd Moumou c. Héritiers Giarmon », Revue algérienne, tunisienne et marocaine de législation et de jurisprudence, no 17, 1901, p. 405-407. Giacomo di Castelnuovo and Garsin forced Elmilik out of the AIU committee by organizing elections for a new board while Elmilik was in Livorno working on the Shamama case: AIU, Tunisie I B 011 b, 23 October 1877, Elmilik to Crémieux.

35 . ANT, SH.C104.D254, Eugène Rosa to Regnault, 19 November 1886.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Jessica M. Marglin, « Jews, Rights, and Belonging in Tunisia: Léon Elmilik, 1861-1881 », L’Année du Maghreb, 23 | 2020, 167-184.

Référence électronique

Jessica M. Marglin, « Jews, Rights, and Belonging in Tunisia: Léon Elmilik, 1861-1881 », L’Année du Maghreb [En ligne], 23 | 2020, mis en ligne le 10 décembre 2020, consulté le 07 juillet 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/anneemaghreb/7082 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/anneemaghreb.7082

Haut de page

Auteur

Jessica M. Marglin

Associate Professor of Religion and Law and Ruth Ziegler Early Career Chair in Jewish Studies at the University of Southern California.

Haut de page
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search