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Round Table of French Scholars in New York Condemns Abrogation of Cremieux Decree

May 3, 1943
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The abrogation by Gen. Giraud of the Cremieux Decree was condemned here at a Round Table on North African problems held by the Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes, a French university affiliated with the New School for Social Research.

Jacques Maritain, noted Catholic philosopher, in commenting on the abrogation of the Cremieux Decree and on the situation of the Jews in North Africa, pointed out that Gen. Giraud’s abrogation of the decree was possibly an evidence of the anti-Semitic feelings remaining in North Africa. He expressed concern over the danger that the anti-Jewish principles and practices which are now enforced in North Africa may be followed as a general line in the reconstruction of France.

Paul Jacob, a prominent lawyer in pre-war France, declared that the revocation of the citizenship of native Algerian Jews was as ridiculous as if the United States were to declare that since the Indians living in Texas were not granted citizenship when that state was annexed by the United States and the Mexican residents were, the only way of remedying that situation would be to reduce the descendants of these Mexicans to the present status of the Indians, who may now apply for citizenship as individuals but do not receive it automatically.

Mr. Raoul Aglion, one of the Fighting French leaders in this country, attacked the legality of all constitutional measures taken since the disruption of the French parliament. He pointed out that in all territories under the direction of General de Gaulle, the French Republican laws had been maintained or re-established and pointed to Syria where despite strong anti-Semitic propaganda, the application of Republican laws had not met with any difficulty. He emphasized that such an experience was in absolute contradiction to the present situation in North Africa.

Another speaker, Henri Gregoire, recalled the history of the Cremieux decree. He explained how long before the liberal Empire of 1865 there was a law giving all rights to the Jews of Africa with the one exception that they could only become French citizens individually. Upon the advice of Cremieux, the most competent authority of African questions at that time, a decree was passed changing this lengthy procedure, which decree has been considered one of the basic laws of France. The action taken by Giraud in this respect is an attempt to violate the French Republican principles, Mr. Gregoire said.

John Maynard discussed the respective situation of Jews and Moslems in North Africa. He explained how the two groups had statutes of their own which could not be compared because of their particular religious and legal standpoints and therefore opposed the idea that the abrogation of a law favoring the Jews would benefit the Moslems.

Dr. Alvin Johnson, president of the New School for Social Research, who presided at the Round Table, concluded by thanking the speakers and expressing his conviction that the French Republic had never ceased to exist and was in no possible danger of dying.

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