The war between Russia and Ukraine is also a war about memory. We have seen how the past was constantly recalled, in particular the Second World War and the Shoah. Sergei Lavrov’s comparison of Zelensky to Hitler, who would also have Jewish blood, and the Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt’s departure from Russia, after having been pressured to publicly support Putin’s war, are two symptoms of the way in which the “Jewish question” remains one of the factors of the conflict. Thus, as Boris Czerny reminds us this week, the Jews are in the place of the “absent-present” in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict; they are not physically present, but everyone talks about them. Without forgetting to recall the tragic dimension of the relations between Jews and Ukrainians throughout history,  in his text, Boris Czerny intends to return to a part of another history, woven of dialogues and exchanges. Is there a common Jewish and Ukrainian culture, however marginal and parallel it may be to the history of violence that memory retains? His text presents two emblematic figures – Oleksa Dovbush, the popular hero of the Carpathians, on the one hand, and the “Baal Shem Tov”, on the other – and recalls how they have been able to intersect, and sometimes symbolically merge within the same shared imaginary.

Nazism is political, and an aesthetic. The philosophers Jean-Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, in ‘Le mythe nazi’ , spoke of a “national-aestheticism”. Music played a fundamental role in this. The great German classical, romantic and post-romantic composers provided much of the soundtrack of Hitler’s regime. Performers were needed to play it, and between 1933 and 1945 musicians flourished in the shadow of the Third Reich, committing themselves to varying degrees of exaltation to their führer…

Read More >>>

 

The history of relations between Jews and Ukrainians came back with insistence from the beginning of the war initiated by Putin. It is an essentially tragic history, which Boris Czerny revisits, but reminding us that it is not limited to acts of violence. Through the evocation of Dovbush, a popular hero of the Carpathians, and of Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer, known as the "Baal Shem Tov", he focuses on the web of linguistic and cultural exchanges that demonstrate the richness of the links between Ukrainians and Jews and that constitute the complex material of a common past.

Do today's music lovers and discophiles feel embarrassed when they listen to recordings of the great performers who played, between 1933 and 1945, without any qualms, for the Nazi leaders? This is the case of Philippe Olivier, a music historian and opera specialist - particularly Wagner - for whom this question is not insignificant and who wonders about his own relationship with this musical heritage.

Tal Hever-Chybowski is the director of the Paris Yiddish Center – Medem Library, the largest center for Yiddish language and literature in Europe. His native language, however, is Hebrew, which is the focus of journal he has founded, Mikan Ve’eylakh (“From Now On/From Here On”). The journal’s novelty rests in its treatment of Hebrew not as the exclusive property of the State of Israel, but as a Diasporic language in its own right. Mikan Ve'eylakh’s two issues feature articles, short stories and poems by Hebrew writers living in the Diaspora. Macha Fogel, K.’s Yiddishland correspondent, recently met up with Hever-Chybowski to discuss his project.

There were 100,000 Turkish Jews at the beginning of the century, but now there are only 10,000. One of the last Jewish communities in the Muslim world, faced with new challenges, seems to be on the verge of collapse. François Azar looks back at the history of a minority that has traditionally cultivated kayadez (discretion in the public space) but that plans to make itself more visible in Turkish society.

The story is well known: Kafka asked his friend Max Brod to destroy his manuscripts. Not only did Max Brod not do so, but he became the guardian of the writer’s memory, his biographer and publisher, the owner of most of his manuscripts – which he took to Israel. Who owns all these archives today? In his book-investigation, Benjamin Balint followed the events surrounding Kafka’s manuscripts, from the political and literary quarrels to the judicial outcome. Philippe Zard returns for K. to the story of a misheritage.

After the recent Israeli elections, the most right-wing government in the country’s history is expected to emerge. If the result is the effect of a long dynamic, it is nonetheless staggering. The philosopher Bruno Karsenti comes back in this text on what may well be a turning point in the history of Israel, and on the deviation of Zionism that it signals. A deviation that, in order to be avoided, implies re-understanding Zionism from the Diaspora, and particularly from Europe.

Ecology, as well as anti-capitalist and communalist alternatives, are increasingly popular with activists and researchers committed to social criticism. These audiences sometimes refer to Gustave Landauer (1870-1919), Emma Goldman (1869-1940), Murray Bookchin (1921-2006), or even Martin Buber (1878-1965), Jewish thinkers who can be described as anarchists or libertarian socialists. Their utopian visions prefigured an agrarian socialism or an everyday communism, of which certain initiatives in France – such as the zones to be defended or the alternative and ecological collectives – are reactivations. Sylvaine Bulle returns to the Jewish origins of these reference authors; origins that remain silent by those who analyse and defend their thought.

“I follow him inside the synagogue. Sit down on one of the wooden benches. My legs feel heavy as lead and my arms are moving strangely as I stand up. You have to do that from time to time. Get up, sing, pray, read and sit down. The synagogue is golden and pleasant.”

The impromptu arrival of the Netanyahu family one day in the winter of 1959 under the roof of Ruben Blum’s family causes the life of the young history professor at a provincial university in New York State to falter. But how can we understand this explosive event that American novelist Joshua Cohen stages without giving us the key?

In 1926, Samuel Schwarzbard assassinated Symon Petloura, the general-in-chief of the Ukrainian nationalist revolution, whose men were responsible for about 40% of the exactions committed during the pogroms that struck the Ukraine during the civil war (1918-1926). Paul Celan was born in Czernowitz, where Schwarzbard lived for a time and is now in Ukraine. Part of his poetry evokes “the widest of rivers”, the long history of anti-Semitic crime that links the history of pogroms to that of the Shoah. Yvan Segré dives into Celan’s poetry and questions, from it, a memory of the Ukraine like the gesture of Samuel Schwarzbard.

Jonas Pardo has been an activist for several years within the radical left, where he has long hidden his Judaism. Following the attack on the Hyper Cacher, he decided, with a handful of other activists, not to let the anti-Semitism that sometimes manifests itself and the denial that often surrounds it continue. This was the first step in a process that would lead him to create a training course on the fight against antisemitism specifically designed to address the left. In this article for K. he tells his story, details his training workshop and the various reactions it provokes.

The identity of Jews from Arab countries is the object of a conflict of legitimacy between the State of Israel and the supporters of the Palestinian cause. This article proposes a contextualization and reflection on the concept of “Arab Jew” and its political uses, following the controversy that erupted at the end of 2021 around the Institut du Monde Arabe’s exhibition “Jews of the Orient, a multi-millennial history”. 

With the support of:

Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.