# 115 / Editorial

On May 9, Cléo Cohen was in the Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba, at the time of the anti-Semitic attack in which two Jewish pilgrims and three Tunisian policemen were murdered. In this text, she shares with us the anguish of the moment, the feelings of unreality and loneliness that plague a young 30 year old woman who went to live in Tunisia – the country of her grandparents – proudly claiming her Jewishness. Her family always feared her stays in Tunisia. In a previous article published by K. about young French Jews returning to their parents’ Maghreb – which we republish this week – Cléo Cohen wrote: “It’s a gesture of betrayal [for my family]. Everyone sighs and rolls their eyes when I say I’m going to Tunisia.” Today, after May 9th, the feeling of betrayal seems to come from somewhere else. And to the turmoil of a woman who says she has spent a lot of time repeating that “unlike in France, you don’t die because you’re Jewish in Tunisia”, is added anger at a suffocating silence: that of her friends, both Tunisian and French, committed activists who are always quick to denounce all injustice and racist violence, but who, in the face of this attack, remain silent. A silence that covers up widespread anti-Semitism and prevents Jews from being recognized as victims. President Kaïs Saïed, for his part, did not remain silent, since he thought it appropriate to declare, a few days after the attack, that “Palestinians die every day without anyone talking about it”. Using Israel as a means of justifying the absence of compassion for Jews, wherever and whatever they may be.

This week, K. also republishes Bruno Karsenti’s essay on Moses Mendelssohn, the greatest philosopher representing the Jewish Enlightenment. In a national and international context of renewed conflict today, when Europe is expressly seeking to reconnect with the current of Enlightenment in which it gained its modern momentum, it may be that Mendelssohn, in a new guise, at a distance from the one he had at the time of emancipation, must once again become our contemporary.

At the age of thirty, Cléo Cohen is representative of a movement that is sweeping through part of the younger Sephardic generation: the desire to reconnect with their Arab history, overcoming the silence and sometimes reticence of their parents and grandparents. She lives in Tunisia, where she felt “at home”, as she puts it. Three weeks ago, Cléo Cohen was in the Ghriba synagogue when the attack took place. In this text, she talks about her anxiety during the attack, and above all about the way in which the event impacted on her journey to re-establish her roots. She evokes the latent anti-Semitism in Tunisian society, the anti-Semitism that prevents Jews from being recognised as victims, and the great silence, in Tunisia as in France, in the midst of which this anti-Semitism unfolds.

Joseph Benamour had already wondered in K. whether there were any Jews left in Algeria; today he investigates the need, so present among certain young Sephardic Jews of the second or third generation, to go to North Africa. Why and how do they think they will find a part of their history there? What role does family nostalgia play in these quests for identity?

Through Moses Mendelssohn, the greatest figure of the Haskala, the Jews ceased to be intruders and became distinguished guests. Today, as Europe seeks to reconnect with the Enlightenment, Mendelssohn may well become our contemporary again. He will return, however, in a different guise than the one he wore in the era of emancipation…

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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.