Document Type



Cultural History | Jewish Studies | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures


By 1900 the Jewish community of Tunisia witnessed the emergence of new competing identities: “assimilationist” of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, termed “Alliancist,” and Zionist. Strikingly, two members of the same family in Tunis, Raymond Valensi, President of the AIU Regional Committee, and Alfred Valensi, President of the Zionist Federation, led the struggle for their separate causes. In his discussion of identity in the modern world, Homi Bhabha asks, "How do strategies of representation or empowerment come to be formulated in the competing claims of communities…where, despite shared histories of …discrimination, the exchange of values, meanings and priorities…may be profoundly antagonistic…?" It is in this context that the claims of the Alliance and Zionism will be examined prior to World War I, based on the Archives of the AIU and on such secondary sources as the indispensable work of Paul Sebag. The tensions between the Alliancists and Zionists continued until the outbreak of World War II, as the French-speaking Jews of Tunisia sought to define their individual and collective identities.


This article was published in CELAAN-Revue du Centre d'Etudes des litteratures et des Arts d'Afrique du Nord/ Review of the Center for the Studies of the literatures and Arts of North Africa 7. 1-2 (Spring 2009): 37-50.