PARIS (Aug. 18)
The 12,000 Jews still living in Algeria were reported here today to be in a state of panic as a result of the charges by Algeria that Israel was involved in an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government of Premier Ahmed Ben Bella.
The reports indicated that virtually all of the remaining Jews were ready to emigrate, out of fear that the charge against Israel was prompted by a “basic anti-Semitism” in the Ben Bella Government, and by the Premier’s wish to find a handy scapegoat for his continuing political opposition.
(In Jerusalem, a Government spokesman declined comment on the Algerian charges, asserting that Israel could not be expected to react to every “absurd charge uttered or published.” The charge was considered so bereft of substance as to preclude even consideration of any official Israel comment.)
Most of the Algerian Jews were reported to fear that the anti-Israel charge portended a government clampdown in the near future on emigration. They also feared that the resignation of Algeria’s elder statesmen and Parliamentary President, Ferhat Abbas, might worsen the domestic situation.
The Algerian Jews were reported to have been deeply shocked by the statement of Information Minister Mouloud Belaoune that most of the 10 arrested foreigners, charged with participation in the guerrilla network, led by Abdel Kader Rezek, were “foreign Jews.” The Information Minister also said at the press conference that Abdel’s wife was “a Polish Jewess.”
Names of the arrested foreigners have been withheld by the Algerians. However, an unofficial list of the names seen here by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency contained nine names, of which only one might be Jewish.