The extreme right in France, criticized the historian Benjamin Stora, who was assigned by French President Emmanuel Macron the memory file with Algeria and in a swift reaction the historian promptly provided clarifications, through which he tried to refute the charges attributed to him, questioning his ability to accomplish the task devolved upon him with integrity and competence.
Benjamin Stora chose to respond to his critics from the French conservative right, about his assignment to the task entrusted to him, on the columns of a right-wing newspaper, Le Figaro, and targeted his response, to the French historian, Jean Sevillia, who had accused Stora of being close to Algeria, by virtue of his specialty, by suggesting that the outcome of Stora’s work will be in the interest of Algeria.
Historian Sevillia, is known for his right-wing orientations.
Stora tried to deny the charges against him, and began to defend himself, highlighting his scientific accomplishments, when he said: “I was the scientific adviser to the documentary prepared about the black feet in Algeria, which was broadcast on the French TV Channel 2 in 2017,” as well as his writings on the Jewish community in Algeria as he is considered one of the sons of this community.
The French historian also talked about his prolonged work on the liberation revolution or the “Algerian war” as it is called in the French historical literature, and the Algerian national movement, from its spiritual father, Mesali Al-Hajj, and the head of the first independent government of Algeria, the late Ferhat Abbas, and he has been studying the written and video archives since 1970, at the level of Aix-en-Provence, Vincent and Evry, for the French army.
Stora also referred to his authorship of the contemporary history of Algeria, and some documents related to the French police (public inquiries) in the face of the National Liberation Front, in addition to other works that made him gain insight into the colonial system in Algeria, as he put it, and also led and headed many theses in French universities from 1985 to 2018, all inspired by the archives related to the French colonial army in Algeria.
Stora made it clear that he depended on many facts and atrocities committed against the Algerian people by the French occupation army, such as forcibly removing them from their lands and imposing the forbidden areas, in addition to using the internationally prohibited weapon of Napalm against the Algerians.
The French historian Jean Sevillia attacked Benjamin Stora and said that he was not qualified to carry out the task entrusted to him, considering that Stora specialized in everything related to the history of France in Algeria, making it closer to the Algerian vision to solve the memory crisis with France, in addition to this Marxist background, known for its hostility to colonialism and its support for the vulnerable peoples.
The vision of the historian Jean Sevillia extends to a wide segment of the extreme right movement in France, a group that is very afraid of the Algerian-French rapprochement at the expense of the circles that were and are still yearning for “French Algeria”, spearheaded by the so-called far-right “Black Feet”…
Last Thursday, on the eve of his appointment, historian Benjamin Stora had stated on Radio France Internationale (RFI) that “he is not a representative of the French state”, as reported by several French and Algerian media.
He also spoke about this reconciliation initiative, “One can never definitively reconcile memories. But I believe that we must move towards a relative peace of memories in order to face up to the challenges of the future, so as not to remain prisoners of the past all the time because Algeria and France need each other,” he explained.
“History in Algeria as in France is a history with stakes (…) On both sides of the Mediterranean, we have indeed tried to approach as closely as possible a history that is that of the facts themselves and that is not a history that is permanently ideologized or instrumentalized,” he stressed.
This initiative aims at carrying out a work of “truth”, which tends to reconcile the two peoples, Algerian and French, about their common past. In the mission letter of Benjamin Stora, the Head of State had indicated that “it is important that the history of the Algerian war be known and looked at with lucidity. It is a matter of appeasement and serenity for those it has wounded”.