A New Israel: Colonial Comparisons and the Algerian Partition that Never Happened
In 1960-62, French officials considered partitioning Algeria between European- and Muslim-majority areas, much later and more seriously than the existing historiography shows. Even its supporters, however, remained ambivalent considering it to be a “foreign” approach to decolonization, opposed to French principles of territorial unity and racial equality. Thus, they discussed partition by comparing Algeria to foreign models, in particular the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine that led to the creation of the state of Israel. Drawing on the private papers of Prime Minister Michel Debré, the writings of Alain Peyrefitte, as well as archives from the ministries of Algerian and Foreign Affairs, this article argues that partition plans were failed attempts to deflect colonialism by looking sideways. To do so, the supporters of partition made use of comparison, a longstanding tool of the colonial administration.
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