Debating the “Jewish Question” in Tunisia

War, Colonialism, and Zionism at a Mediterranean Crossroads, 1914–1920

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
Chris Rominger University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Search for other papers by Chris Rominger in
Current site
Google Scholar
Restricted access


In Tunisia, the end of World War I and the return of Muslims and European settlers from the front brought attacks against local Jews who had been exempt from conscription under French colonial rule. French commentators spoke of a “Jewish question” fueled by Muslim fanaticism and Jewish profiteering, obscuring their own divisive attitudes and policies. Colonial archives and the popular press, however, reveal that this was far from a monolithic sectarian concern. Jews responded to violence with a variety of transnational political visions. I explore how some Jews reaffirmed their loyalty to France, while others highlighted colonial hypocrisies. Others turned to solutions such as US protection or the Zionist movement. This Tunisian story, with its unique colonial arrangement and legal ambiguities, foregrounds an oft-overlooked North African perspective on the global questions of identity, nationalisms, and minority politics at the end of World War I.

Contributor Notes

Chris Rominger is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. He is preparing his book manuscript, The Mediterranean Overturned: North African Identities at the Intersection of Empire, for publication. Email:

  • Collapse
  • Expand


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 1555 594 63
Full Text Views 97 8 0
PDF Downloads 99 8 0