Interviews

Some people claim that the French far-right party Rassemblement National (RN) is no longer antisemitic, and that the vast majority of Jews would vote for Bardella. To discuss these two dubious assertions, we spoke to film director and essayist Jonathan Hayoun– notably the author, with Judith Cohen-Solal, of La main du diable : Comment l’extrême droite a voulu séduire les Juifs de France (Grasset,2019) [TN:The Devil’s Hand: How the far right tried to seduce the Jews of France] –, and Johan Weisz, journalist and editor-in-chief and committed founder of the online media StreetPress. Interviewed by Elie Petit, they question the idea that, beyond the communication strategy, there would be a real normalization of the RN, while questioning the feeling of danger in which the Jews of France live, and its political consequences.

Etgar Keret is a leading Israeli writer, whose talent for blending the mundane with the magical is appreciated both in Israel and abroad. In this interview conducted by Emmy Barouh a week ago, Keret evokes the feeling that, since October 7 and as the government plunges the country into war, the reality experienced by Israelis is losing its consistency, and escaping any grip they may have had on it.

Continuation of Revue K.’s interviews and reports from Israel. Julia Christ and Elie Petit met with attorney and founder of the Movement for Quality Government, Eliad Shraga. One of our interviewees called him “the biggest judicial troublemaker in the country”. He is a leading figure in the fight against corruption and for the rule of law. His case for the drafting of ultra-Orthodox into the army will have its final decision on June 2nd and could represent an important threat to the current coalition.

What about the request to issue arrest warrants against the three main leaders of Hamas as well as against Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant just announced by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court? While his statement immediately aroused a hubbub of positions, we returned to question Yann Jurovics—a lawyer specializing in crimes against humanity and former expert at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda—for clarity.

How do Israeli universities avoid getting overwhelmed by the conflict? In this interview – the second in our series of reports from Israel – Mona Khoury, the first Arab Vice-President in the history of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, describes the successful efforts made to ensure the continuity of university life after October 7 and in spite of the conflict. All this while taking a critical look at how, elsewhere in the world, campuses have allowed themselves to be overrun by the ideological conflagration.

Dara Horn is a journalist, essayist and professor of Yiddish and Hebrew literature. In this interview, she talks about what prompted her to write People Love Dead Jews in 2021, and the question this book explores: why do dead Jews arouse so much more interest than living Jews? Between the ritualization of a sterilized memory of the Holocaust, fascination with the figure of the Jew reduced to helpless victimhood and denial of the actuality of antisemitism, Dara Horn questions the deeply ambiguous way in which the West, and America in particular, relates to Jews, and to the ghosts they evoke.

What is the significance of this massive return to the history and memory of the Holocaust as a point of reference since the October 7 massacres, and what is the significance of the proliferation of the word “genocide” to condemn Israel’s war on Gaza? How should we understand speeches that claim that Israel is instrumentalizing the memory of the Holocaust to justify a war that is considered genocidal, echoing the trope that the victims have become the executioners? We asked Tal Bruttmann to shed some light on these questions.

Ber Kotlerman was born in Irkutsk, Soviet Union, in 1971. He grew up in Birobidjan—the “autonomous Jewish region” founded in May 1934 at the edge of the USSR on the Chinese border, with Yiddish as its official language. Ber Kotlerman has lived in Israel for thirty years, where he teaches Yiddish literature and culture at Bar-Ilan University. His novel “Koydervelsh,” which takes the reader from Birobidjan to Tel Aviv, has just been published. This is his fourth book of prose in Yiddish—the first, a collection of short stories, was published in Tel Aviv; the second, a thriller based on rabbinic responsa, in New York; and the third, a family epic, in Buenos Aires. However, he says that everything he writes is in one way or another linked to the region of his childhood, Birobidjan, which is the subject of this interview by Macha Fogel, conducted in Yiddish.

The book by historians Jean-Frédéric Schaub and Silvia Sebastiani – Race and History in Western Societies (15th-18th centuries) – intersects with many issues familiar to readers of Revue K. It recounts the construction of the concept of “race”, as it plays out in racist thought, as a process spanning several centuries, from the imperialist Ancien Régime to the modern period. It thus offers a much richer history of racism than those often limited to the scientistic theories of the late 19th century. Above all, the book places the “Jewish question” at the heart of its history of the concept of race: election, obstinacy and the invisibility of differences are all problems that Christian societies have encountered in their relationship with the Jews, and whose mark racism bears. Interview with the authors.

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