A Scottish professor visits the ancient university of Salamanca and its historic library. In a secret room, containing a collection of books banned by the Inquisition, a Torah scroll is preciously preserved. Philip Schlesinger, himself a professor of Cultural Theory at the University of Glasgow, tells a story he heard and his protagonist’s quest to find the traces of the Spanish city’s Jewish past.
Examining the political situation that is inflaming Israel, Bruno Karsenti gives an account of the multiple fractures that deeply divide the populations living in the region. All the sub-groups in turmoil – religious Zionists, Israeli citizens demonstrating in defense of a modern democratic state now in danger, Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories – are brought back to the same question, which touches on the feeling of belonging, which is felt in different ways. For although it is of equal intensity, it does not have the same content or the same meaning according to the perspectives involved. To belong or to possess? Sari Nusseibeh returns in this week’s issue of K. to the tension between these two words. Bruno Karsenti’s text reads like an introduction to the Palestinian philosopher’s contribution.
Sari Nusseibeh, 74, is a prominent Palestinian philosopher who, after studying at Harvard, was president of the Arab University in Jerusalem. A former PLO representative in Jerusalem and a longtime player in negotiations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his books include What Is a Palestinian State Worth?
But what is the State of Israel? Danny Trom’s book The State of Exile proposes an answer to this apparently simple question: the State of Israel is not, cannot be, the nation-state of the Jewish people but a state “for the Jews”. Proceeding from the political experience of the Jews of Europe, it remains inscribed in the exilic configuration of the Jews, outside of which its very foundation would disappear.
In the early 2000s, a radical left-wing magazine referred to the Kabbalah tradition and took a Hebrew name: Tiqqun. The magazine only had two issues, but it constituted the matrix of the Invisible Committee (collective author of The Coming Insurrection) of which Julien Coupat, arrested during the Tarnac affair, was a central figure. How did a virulent critique of liberal democracy and capitalism originate in a tradition of Jewish esotericism?
A historian of religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Guy G. Stroumsa – starting from the shock felt by many at the results of the last Israeli elections and in front of a government in which the extreme right-wing nationalist and orthodox religious parties figure prominently – reviews the new political situation in Israel. He emphasizes the religious dimensions of the problem and the difficulties that the history of Zionism has faced in its attempt to resolve, without success, the question of the interweaving of the religious and the national in Israel.
Zionism or diasporism? And what if the essence of being Jewish was precisely between these two options? Between here and there, between exile and being rooted? David Haziza gives us here the account of a summer spent between these two horizons.
How can we understand the composition of the new government formed by Benjamin Netanyahu, which gives pride of place to religious Zionism and to a nationalism itself increasingly tinged with religious references? How can we understand it historically and circumstantially? Danny Trom looks back at this event, which marks a break in the history of Israel and of Zionism itself.
Martine Cohen is a sociologist specialising in the evolution of French Judaism. The text she has let us republish in K. is an extract from her recent book: “Fin du Franco-judaïsme ? Quelle place pour les Juifs dans une France multiculturelle ?” More precisely, it appears in the chapter “Dissonances politiques”, in which the author identifies the sources of unease that weaken “Franco-Judaism”. This Franco-Judaism crystallised in its new form during the 1980s, in a break with the ‘Israelism’ of the 19th century.
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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.