original sur Si Khaled, par Annie Boukhris, a ete publie sur Harissa en
2001, puis a ete repris par Robert Satloff qui en a fait un livre. Cette
histoire est a l'origine de la decision du Simon Wiesenthal Center a Los
Angeles d'honorer Si Khaled comme juste.
Wiesenthal Center honors one of Shoah's righteous Arabs
Tugend, Contributing Editor
Hitler conquered France, the French colonies of Algeria and Morocco remained
under the control of the collaborationist Vichy regime. While the Jews of
these countries suffered under the anti-Semitic Vichy-imposed laws, their
lives were not at risk.
Tunisia was the exception. In November 1942, German troops and their Italian
ally occupied the small country, forced its 100,000 Jews to wear yellow
stars and confiscated their properties.
Before British troops liberated Tunisia six months later, the Nazis sent
5,000 Jews to forced labor camps, where at least 46 died, according to Yad
Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial authority. About 160 Tunisian Jews
living in France were deported to death camps.
takeover immediately affected Jacob Boukris (wedding photo, right), an
affluent household appliances manufacturer, as well as his wife, Odette, and
their 11-year-old daughter, Anny. German troops gave the family one hour to
evacuate their spacious house in the coastal town of Mahdia, then the
soldiers turned it into a barrack and took all the valuables. The family and
two dozen Jews found shelter in a nearby olive oil factory, but a few days
later, another visitor appeared at midnight.
He was Khaled Abdelwahab (the transliterated Arab name is also spelled
Abdelwahhab), a notably handsome man of 32, whose father was Tunisia's most
eminent historian. The visitor told the startled Jews that they must leave
immediately and explained why. Young Abdelwahab served as liaison between
the local population and the Nazi occupiers. He used the position to
ingratiate himself with the Germans and, like Oskar Schindler in Poland,
frequently treated the officers to meals and endless rounds of wine.
The Germans had set up a brothel and impressed a number of local women,
among them Jewish girls. One evening, a drunken officer confided that he had
his eye on a particularly beautiful Jewish woman and planned to take her to
the brothel and rape her the next night. The intended victim, Abdelwahab
quickly realized, was Odette Boukris.
Between midnight and morning, Abdelwahab drove the Boukris family and the
other Jews in the olive oil factory to his secluded farm. He hid and fed the
large group until the Germans were chased out by the British four months
On Monday morning, when the Simon Wiesenthal Center observes Yom HaShoah,
commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, a place of honor will be
reserved for the daughter of the late Khaled Abdelwahab.
Abdelwahab is the first Arab to be nominated for official recognition by Yad
Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations, and his story adds a new dimension
to the 6 million stories of horror -- and occasionally nobility
-- rising from the ashes of the Holocaust. His acts also shed
light on the little-known fates of Jews in the Arab countries of North
Africa during World War II.
But while Abdelwahab and Boukris maintained their friendship for some years
after the war, the story would surely have been forgotten after their deaths
but for the curiosity and persistence of one American scholar.
Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East
Policy and an expert on Arab and Islamic politics, moved with his family to
Morocco shortly after Sept. 11 to research the attitudes and behavior of
North African Arabs toward the resident Jews during World War II. He posted
a message on a Web site popular with Tunisian Jews, now scattered across the
world. Within a week, he received a response from Anny Boukris, the
11-year-old girl hidden with her parents on Abdelwahab's farm who was then a
71-year-old woman living in Palm Desert.
Boukris wrote, "The Arabs saved many Jews, hurt also other Jews. I don't
know very well these stories. I remember very well only our story."
That message launched Satloff on a four-year investigative trip, with
numerous stops in North Africa, Israel, Britain, France and the United
Initially, Satloff had his doubts about the Boukris story, and two experts
on Tunisian Jewish history assured him that her tale was sheer fantasy. But
as Satloff dug deeper and discovered more and more corroborating facts and
witnesses, he became convinced of the story's veracity.
He also found additional instances of "noble, selfless" deeds by Arabs.
Thus, when the Vichy regime offered Algerian Arabs huge profits if they took
over Jewish property, not a single Arab responded. In 1941, prayer leaders
in mosques throughout Algiers, the capital city, delivered sermons warning
the faithful not to participate in a similar scheme to strip Jews of their
As one result of his findings, Satloff recently published a detailed account
in his book, "Among the Righteous: Lost Stories From the Holocaust's Long
Reach Into Arab Lands." For another, he formally petitioned Yad Vashem to
recognize Abdelwahab as the first Arab to be designated as a Righteous Among
the Nations and a rescuer of Jews during the Shoah.
The Yad Vashem investigation, now under way, tends to be long and exacting,
but Satloff is convinced Abdelwahab will meet the required criteria.
Yad Vashem has so far honored 21,700 men and women with the Righteous
designation. Among them are 60 Muslims, all from the Balkans, but none are
Arab. As a follow-up to his research, Satloff is working with the U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum to organize a conference in Morocco on the Shoah's
impact on North African nations.
Abdelwahab died in 1997 at the age of 86. Standing in for him at the
Memorial Plaza of the Wiesenthal Center will be one of his two daughters,
Faiza Abdul-Wahab. A long-time resident of Paris and active in the French
film industry, Abdul-Wahab said her father rarely spoke of his wartime
experiences, but she was not surprised that he had aided Jews. "My father
was a shy person," recalled Abdul-Wahab, speaking from Madrid. "He mentioned
occasionally that some Jews had lived on his farm." More vividly, she said,
he recalled that a young German fighter pilot had been killed when his plane
crashed near her Tunisian hometown.
"All the Jewish women cried because he was such a young boy," her father
Growing up in Tunisia, "at a certain social level there was no difference
between Arabs and Jews, and our home was actually in the Jewish section,"
Abdul-Wahab said. In retrospect, she felt that her father was quietly
frustrated that his wartime deeds were never recognized. "He seemed a little
sad," she said, "but whenever he visited me in Paris, he wanted to go to the
Jewish neighborhood." As for herself, Abdul-Wahab mused that "I've always
tried to bring Jews and Arabs together. I felt like a link, but I never knew
why. Now I understand."
It took only a local phone call to reach Nadia Judith Bijaoui, who will
represent the rescued Boukris family at the Yom HaShoah ceremonies. The Palm
Desert resident is the daughter of Anny Boukris, who witnessed the German
occupation of Tunisia as an 11-year-old.
Boukris, whose initial message set Satloff off on his four-year search, died
in late 2003, only a few weeks after detailing her life story in an 83-page
transcript. Bijaoui remembers long conversations with her mother and her
grandmother, the Odette Boukris desired by the Nazi officer, but they didn't
talk about their wartime experiences.
"I think what they went through was so traumatic, they wanted to forget
about it," Bijaoui said. "They were happy just to be alive."
Bijaoui was raised in France and came with her family to the United States
in the early 1970s. She is a trained psychologist and has written two
Satloff said in a phone call from Jerusalem, where he was visiting, that he
hoped that his book and recognition of Abdelwahab by Yad Vashem would
stimulate both Jews and Arabs to look at the Holocaust in "a different way,
beyond the purely European narrative."
In addition to the dramatic Boukris story, Satloff's investigations showed
that there were other individual Arabs who aided their Jewish neighbors,
but, as in Europe, they represented a small minority of the population.
"The majority of Arabs, as the people in occupied Europe, were indifferent,"
he said. "A regrettably large minority of Arabs collaborated with the Axis
powers. Many served as guards at forced labor camps, helped the SS hunt down
Jews and even fought in the German army."
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, urged that
the deeds of Abdelwahab and other compassionate Arabs become "part of both
the Jewish and Arab collective memories."
To the current Muslim rulers and media who denigrate and deny the Holocaust,
Abdelwahab's deeds send a different message, Cooper said.
"If you deny the Shoah, you also deny that there were noble Arabs and other
Muslims, those who put their lives on the line to rescue Jews."
Reponses a cet article par Renato Bensasson :
A friend has given to me the 13 April issue of your journal.
I have read with interest the article
"Wiesenthal Center honors one of Shoah's righteous Arabs"
By Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor (
The first sentences of this article indicate:
"After Hitler conquered France, the French colonies of Algeria and Morocco
remained under the control of the collaborationist Vichy regime. While the
Jews of these countries suffered under the anti-Semitic Vichy-imposed laws,
their lives were not at risk. Tunisia was the exception. In November 1942,
German troops and their Italian ally occupied the small country, forced its
100,000 Jews to wear
yellow stars and confiscated their properties."
Actually the facts are not exactly what Tom Jugend wrote:
1) In Morocco, the jews were protected by the Sultan Mohamed V against the
Many books and article have described the Moroccan situation see for
History_of_the_Jews_in_Morocco from which the following sentence is
"In 1940, the Nazi-controlled Vichy government issued antisemitic decrees
excluding Jews from public functions and imposing the wear of yellow Magen
David stars. Sultan Mohamed V refused to apply these racist laws and
insisted on inviting all the rabbis of Morocco to the 1941 throne
celebrations." quotation from p. 966 from The Encyclopedia of World History
Sixth Edition, Peter N. Stearns (general editor), © 2001 The Houghton
Mifflin Company, at Bartleby.com.
2) In Algeria, the situation was quite different as described in HOLOCAUST
The following sentences are extracted from an article by Sarah Sussman
of Stanford University ;
"A major characteristic of Algerian settler society was its antisemitism.
The Algerian Jews' French citizenship, and the political rights which it
granted, were seen as dangerous to settlers' vision of Algerian society. In
the early twentieth century, antisemitic newspapers flourished in Algeria,
and politicians of major cities were elected on antisemitic platforms.
European antisemites in Algeria also tried to incite Muslims to act against
the Jews, but without great success. Not surprisingly, this environment
proved to be particularly fertile ground for the Nazi-inspired anti-Jewish
measures during World War II. European antisemites spread rumors blaming the
Jews for the French defeat and calling for pogroms. In September 1940,
Jewish shops in Algiers were attacked and plundered, with little reaction
from the authorities.
Because they had fewer European settlers, French right-wing organizations
had less of an impact in Morocco and Tunisia."
Further on, Sarah Sussman writes:
"The first Jewish Statute was quickly followed by an event that had a major
impact on the Algerian Jews. On October 7, 1940, the French government
abolished the Crémieux Decree, revoking the Algerian Jews' French
citizenship and offering no way to regain it."
Algeria has been the only french territory where the racial laws of Vichy
persisted under the authority of General Giraud many months after the
liberation of Algeria,
which took place the 8th of November 1942.
It is via a strong action by General de Gaulle on his arrival in Algeria in
October 1943 that the Vichy decrees were abolished..
3) In Tunisia the same article of HOLOCAUST ENCYCLOPEDIA http://
www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10007310 by Sarah Sussman
of Stanford University reports;
"In Tunisia, sympathetic French and Muslim officials -- in particular the
resident-general Admiral Jean-Pierre Estéva, the Tunisian ruler Ahmed Pasha
Bey and his successor, Moncef Bey -- and entreaties from the Jewish
community postponed evictions and “Aryanization.” Furthermore, Italian
officials in Tunisia opposed the
application of Vichy racial laws to the 5,000 Jews with Italian citizenship,
further weakening the force of the “Aryanization” measures."
TOM JURGEND might also read pages 242 à 246 of "Histoire des Juifs de
Tunisie-Des origines à nos jours" by Paul Sebag, published by l'Harmattan
I will only reproduce two sentences dealing to the
"six months under the nazi occupation from the 8 november 1942 to the 7
SENTENCE of PAGE 242:
"Contrairement aux Juifs de la plupart des pays qui ont connu l'occupation
allemande, les Juifs de Tunisie ne furent pas astreints au port d'une
"In contrast with all countries under German occupation, the Jews of
were not forced to wear the yellow star of David"
SENTENCE OF PAGE 244:
"De son côté, le Bey MONCEF, qui avait succédé au Bey AHMED, décédé le 19
Juin 1942, avait plus d'une fois signifié que tous ses sujets, qu'ils
fussent musulmans ou juifs, avaient droit à sa sollicitude
which means " Moncef Bey who succeeded to Ahmed Bey after 19 June 1942,
repeatedly declared that all his subjects, Moslems as well as Jews, were
equally entitled to his care and concern."
With my best regards
Renato V. Bensasson