History - France
Georges Clemenceau, France’s newspaper editor-cum-prime minister, endures in historical memory as an implacable foe of antisemitism. He was accused of being indebted to “the Jewish syndicate.” Reading Au pied du Sinai (At the Feet of Sinai, untranslated) might be surprised to find in this collection of short stories and monologues rhetoric that belies the text’s status as a pro-Jewish apologetic. Clemenceau regurgitates a bevy of antisemitic motifs in this book. Philippe Zard explains how at the turn of the century antisemites and anti-antisemites both drew on “a broad repertoire of shared representations” vis-a-vis Jews.
The term “Israélite” has recently come back into the news following its repeated use by a polemicist-cum-presidential candidate in the French elections. However, the Israélite model that he claims to embody has nothing to do with the reality of what Israélitisme was. Through a vibrant tribute to Marcel Wormser, recently deceased, and to his father, Georges Wormser, Milo Lévy-Bruhl recovers the essence of this pre-war French Jewish phenomenon and discusses the reasons for its ultimate disappearance.
Thirty years ago, the great historical account “Vichy France and the Jews,” by Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton, was published simultaneously in French and English. Released in a new edition in 2015, the book is now experiencing increased interest in France, where some are questioning the responsibility of France in the persecution of Jews under the German occupation. In 2015, on the occasion of a tribute to the man – Roger Errera – who was at the origin of the work’s inception, Robert Paxton revisited the difficult process of researching and writing this book, which so fundamentally challenged France’s ‘resistance myth.’
One of the oldest medieval Hebrew manuscripts preserved in France was sold in New York on October 19. An anonymous private collector acquired it for more than eight million euros. The mahzor known as the “Luzzatto mahzor” had been one of the jewels of the Alliance Israélite Universelle’s library since 1870. Noëmie Duhaut looks back at this story and asks the question it raises: Why are an archive about Jewish life, culture, and politics, as well as research on these topics struggling to exist in France?
France was the first of the European countries to emancipate the Jews. The revolutionaries’ promise of freedom and equality for every Jew was not always honored. The Jews suffered for…
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