Bacri

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BACRI

BACRI , Algerian family prominent near the end of Ottoman rule, with special status within the community and at the dey's court. The family had an important role in diplomatic relations between the Ottomans and several European states as well as in ransoming Jewish captives and arming neutral fleets in the Mediterranean. It had two branches, one in the capital, *Algiers, which had relations with France in Napoleon's time, the other near the western borders, in *Oran, which had connections with Spain. Relations with France, however, were not smooth, as in 1795 when the authorities impounded their merchandise in retaliation for the family's arming a pirate ship. After the Napoleonic era the Bacris did increased business with Spain.

[Shalom Bar-Asher (2nd ed.)]

joseph coen bacri (1740–1817), banker, trader, and communal leader, was born in Algiers. He founded the Bacri Frères firm which played a significant role in Algerian politics for fifty years. The firm was an important wheat supplier to France during the Napoleonic period. In 1811, after the execution on a charge of treason of his son David, who had been active manager of the firm for several years, Joseph reassumed the management of the firm's affairs and was appointed leader of the Algerian Jewish community by the dey. However, in 1816, the dey confiscated his possessions and banished him from Algiers. According to other sources, he fled because of the anti-Jewish atmosphere. Bacri died in poverty in Leghorn.

david coen bacri (1770–1811), son of Joseph, was a financier and communal leader. David had widespread shipping and trading interests and served as the financial agent for many European firms and governments. In 1797 he married Aziza, a niece of Naphtali *Busnach. Busnach, a statesman who was able to manipulate the Algerian Regency for his own purposes, became a partner in the firm. Under David's management, the firm of Bacri Busnach became so powerful and its operations so extensive that it was able to defy the British government and buy captured allied vessels from French privateers.

Acting on the advice of Bacri Busnach, the dey authorized a five-million franc loan to the French Directory. The credit for the loan was later transferred to the firm. The subsequent 30-year-long dispute over the settlement of the loan was one of the factors which exacerbated relations between Algiers and France, and led eventually to the French occupation of Algeria in 1830. After Naphtali's assassination by a soldier of the dey's palace guard in June 1805, Bacri Busnach became insolvent. David was imprisoned for allegedly owing the government five million francs. The European governments, however, which had profited by David's business activities, put pressure on the Algerian Regency and secured his release. These same governments then helped David set up the Bacri firm in payment for his past services to them. In 1806 the dey named him head of the Jewish community. Subsequently, his enemy, David Duran, who wanted the leadership for himself, denounced Bacri to the authorities and he was executed for treason.

jacob coen bacri (1763–1836), a financier, served as French consul in Algiers under the restored Bourbon monarchy. In 1827, he represented Charles x in negotiations with Dey Hassan in regard to a French claim. Hassan, angered by Bacri's impassioned defense of French interests, insulted him. The French government regarded the dey's action as a national insult and as an immediate excuse to declare war. The war resulted in the French conquest of Algiers in 1830 and the banishment of the dey.

Bacri, who had left Algiers at the outbreak of the war, settled in Paris. During the last years of his life, he was continually importuned by creditors because of his inability to collect a 35-million-franc debt from the Spanish government.

[Joachim O. Ronall]

bibliography:

M. Eisenbeth, in: Revue Africaine, 96 (1952), 372–83; M. Rosenstock, "Economic and Social Condition among the Jews in Algeria," in: H.J. 18 (1956), 3–26; Hirschberg, Afrikah, index (includes bibliographies); R. Ayoun and B. Cohen, Les Juifs d'Algérie, (1982), 102–13. add. bibliography: M. Hoexter, "Ha-Edah ha-Yehudit be-Aljir ve-Mekoma …" in: Sefunot, 17 (1983), 133–63.