In the narrative of World War II, as in the case of the narrative of Shoah in public discourse in Israel, the subject of the Jews of North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya) is missing. Of course the fate of these communities was much better than that of European Jewry, but that is not a sufficient reason to ignore the plight of Jews who suffered the loss of a family member in labor camps and internment camps, or deportation to concentration camps in Europe, the exploitation of children in forced labor, expropriation of property, houses destroyed by aerial bombardment, the humiliation of being forced to wear a yellow badge and the constant uncertainty of what the future would bring.
The Center for Information, Documentation and Research on North-African Jewry during World War II, which operates under the auspices of the Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem, was established in 2006 with the support of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, with the purpose of making information on this subject available, raising the public consciousness and awareness of the travails of Jews in North Africa, developing curricula and training teachers to incorporate the subject in the Israeli school system and to advance academic research.
The Center is setting up a data base on the internet that will be available to the general public and researchers and will enable them to obtain information through thousands of indexed documents from archives in Israel and abroad on North-African Jewry during WWII. This data base will be part of a website that will include, chronology, bibliography, information on conferences and publications, interactive learning, options for depositing source material and a forum for researchers and teachers.
It is of paramount importance to obtain the testimonies of Jews from North Africa living in Israel and abroad who experienced World War II. Because of advanced age of the potential witnesses the staff of the center is cooperating with other institutions in this area in order to reach the greatest number of people and record their stories while it is still possible.