- French Influence

After it’s defeat in World War I, the Ottoman Empire is divided up by the victorious allies. Syria and Lebanon are now under French control, exerting great influence in language, culture, rule of law, and education. Jews are no longer bound by the Pact of Umar and the restrictions of dhimmi status. The most popular French schools for Jewish students are run by the Alliance Israelite Universelle.

“We were happy with the French. We, the Jews, are happy with the French because at least we had some protection, meaning if anybody were to isolate us, we have the governing bodies protecting us.” – Elie S. Sutton, Episode 6
“Alliance is Jewish. Alliance Israelite Française. The first education is in French and then the Arabic. Arabic is a second language for us. It was very natural to speak French.” – Rachel Cattan Mouhadeb, Episode 6
“All the Jewish community when we were a French colony, all our names are French names: Leon, Edmond, Joseph, Alphonse, Maurice, Miro, Murad, all French names.” – Leo Tawil, Episode 6

(Image of a Reception at the Alliance Israelite; Aleppo, Syria, 1923.)

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