#132 / Editorial

Two weeks ago, K. dedicated its issue to the event represented by the petition “The Elephant in the Room” – an event in the sense that the criticism of the State of Israel as an apartheid regime brought together both the traditional anti-Zionist academics and, for the first time, representatives of the Zionist camp, who are generally more cautious about using such a stigma. “Apartheid”… Should criticism of Israel, which is at a turning point in its history since the crisis that is dividing the country and mobilising part of the Diaspora, be forced to resort to this infamous term in order to combat the path taken by the current government of Benjamin Netanyahu? Does this use of the category really strengthen the legitimate cause of defending the Palestinians and opposing israeli government’s policies? We don’t think so. The text signed this week by Bruno Karsenti and Danny Trom argues that the apartheid lens frames the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a fundamentally flawed way and is detrimental to understanding it. Above all, and by this very fact, it distances us from any real political solution to the conflict.

On the occasion of the release of Cédric Kahn’s fascinating film Le Procès Goldman, philosopher Gérard Bensussan looks back at what the figure of Pierre Goldman represented in his youth – a revolutionary activist arrested for robbery and suspected of murder, author of a cult book written in prison, Souvenirs obscurs d’un juif polonais né en France (Dim Memories of a Polish Jew Born in France) – which has remained legendary for many but has been largely forgotten. “I remember, as if it were yesterday, the news that Pierre Goldman had been murdered by a far-right commando while I was in the middle of an editorial meeting for a long-gone review, Dialectiques. We were all stunned. Goldman was a key figure in the whole of the far left and its broader movements…” writes Gérard Bensussan in a text that is both intimate and meticulous in its analysis of the political careers of young Jewish revolutionaries in France in the 1970s. In many ways, Pierre Goldman was the one who said out loud how much their commitment to the far left in those years had to do with their Jewish heritage.

To mark the holiday of Sukkot, we are republishing “My Father’s Sukkah”, a text by Ruben Honigmann in which he recalls the place of this holiday in his family history, the tête-à-tête with his father that it made possible and the often comical moments of promiscuity in the communal sukkah. He is amused by the 50 different Jewish practices that Sukkot gives rise to. “A sukkah that flies away without collapsing, fragile but enduring, an onion – the human heart – pierced but out of reach, my father’s sukkah contains what is essential: the Jewish condition in exile, precarious but tenacious.

In issue 129 of K., we discussed the open letter, entitled “The Elephant in the room”, denouncing the State of Israel as an apartheid regime. The petition was signed by more than 2,500 academics, bringing together, in a combination unthinkable only a few months earlier, committed Zionists and avowed anti-Zionists. We gave the floor to several of our authors, who explained why they had signed even though they did not agree with the use of the word apartheid. The following text is intended to explain why such a characterization is historically and politically inappropriate, counter-productive and the fruit of an absolutely impracticable analogy, unless one wishes to discredit the history and very existence of Zionism in bad faith.

The release in French cinemas of The Goldman Trial raised questions for the editors of K. What mark has the activist left on French Jewish consciousness, particularly on the left? And what impact did he leave on the left after his assassination? It seemed obvious to us to turn to the philosopher Gérard Bensussan, who after seeing Cédric Kahn’s film entrusted us with this text in which he breaks down the figure of Pierre Goldman, caught up in his Jewish condition.

“I like Sukkot. For a week, Jews are required to eat their meals in an ephemeral dwelling, in Hebrew a sukkah, which is translated, for want of a better word, as “booth.” This draws the curiosity of children and perhaps softens the hearts of antisemites. (…) A clever solid-fragile construction to which one repairs three times a day to eat, dining cart in tow. By temporarily settling outside while keeping one foot at home, inside and outside merge, primary and secondary residence are reversed. In short, you stage your own exile. And as I never manage to feel totally at ease where I am, hoping at each station that the next one will be the right one, this festival of fidgeting suits me perfectly.”

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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.