#152 / Editorial

By now, we’ve become sadly accustomed to hearing that Jews are taking undue advantage of the history of their persecution, that they’re basically wallowing in their status as eternal victims. This week’s interview with Dara Horn, based on her book People Love Dead Jews, offers an interesting twist on this accusation. For the journalist and professor of Yiddish and Hebrew literature, the question is why Westerners, and Americans in particular, seem to find dead Jews so much more interesting than living ones. Why, in the contemporary imagination, are Jews always relegated to the figure of the victim, or rendered invisible as Jews? For Dara Horn, the sanitization of the memory of the Holocaust, and the teaching of it as a moral fable from which everyone can draw their good conscience, erase the particularity of Jewish life and culture, and reduce Jews to the status of symbols of Nazi horror, and of the lessons we are supposed to have learned from it forever. What therefore seems unthinkable, and gives rise to unease, is the idea that Jews can be actors in their own destiny: the figure of the all-powerful Jew is countered by that of the radically powerless victim. To this interview conducted before October 7, Dara Horn adds a reflection following the event that continues to hit the Middle East.

Little remains of Greece’s once thriving Jewish community, which was devastated by the Holocaust. This has apparently not prevented antisemitism from flourishing, as Greece is now one of the European countries where prejudice against Jews is most prevalent. To understand the specifics of the Greek case, this week we present the first article in a series conceived in partnership between K. and DILCRAH as part of a European survey on the state of public policies to combat antisemitism. Over the coming months, we will look at different European countries in the same way, before offering a summary. The aim of this survey is to compare the diversity of manifestations of antisemitism in different national contexts, highlighting an antisemitism that has little structure at the political level, but is sufficiently widespread in public opinion that its manifestations have become normalized. In this first part, Greek Jews and political leaders testify to the extent of this phenomenon and show, sometimes in spite of themselves, the extent to which it can be internalized. We also learn from the responses to opinion polls that Greeks seem particularly sensitive to the idea that Jews are instrumentalizing the memory of the Holocaust, and that they tend to enter into a type of victimhood competition with them.

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.

This first part of the DILCRAH report about antisemitism in Greece, part of the European Survey on the state of public policies to combat antisemitism, reveals the worrying spread of prejudice against Jews in Greek society. Whether through the testimonies of Greek Jews, politicians or opinion polls, it is clear that antisemitism is an integral part of the Greek political landscape, although it is expressed less violently than elsewhere. The second part of this report looks at how the Greek authorities intend to tackle this problem, which seems to be deeply rooted in the country’s history and political culture. 

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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.