Le camp du Grand Arènas, l’étape française des émigrants du Maghreb en route vers Israël (1952-1966) », par Nathalie Deguigné et Emile Temime
The Great Arenas Camp, the stopping-place in France for emigrants from the Maghreb, on their way to Israel (1952-1966), by Nathalie Deguigné and Émile Temime
Presently almost nothing remains of the great Arenas camp, closed in 1966, and completely razed at the beginning of the years 1980. Managed both by the French authorities and by the Jewish Agency, in those days when it was a France-Israel honeymoon, the place was an important hub of the alyah, with more or less secrecy. As early as 1945 it was visited by survivors of the Holocaust fleeing from Eastern Europe and determined to force their way into Palestine, in spite of the still mandatory Great Britain's refusal. From 1952, they were followed by Jews coming exclusively from North Africa, in great numbers from Morocco, and less numerous from Tunisia. This article deals with this “North-African” period of the history of the camp, the longest and the least known. As the result of an investigation dealing with people who stayed there and witnesses, it describes pointedly and with sympathy the conditions of life of these migrants, the discomfort, the offences they underwent ( particularly from the Israeli managerial staff), but also the expectations for a better life in the Promised Land.