#7 / Editorial

We had planned to run our interview with former French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve – conducted just before the court’s decision in the Halimi Affair – in a previous issue. We could not, however, publish the interview, which includes Cazeneuve’s assertion that “each time anti-Semitism wins in France, the Republic ceases to be itself,” without posing him one additional question. His response to the last question is as brief it is unequivocal: the situation now generating such emotion among Frenchmen attests in his view to the need to immediately fill “the legal vacuum” pertaining to criminal responsibility and insanity.

Legal vacuum? The search for justice in France thwarted? In this context, we have seen that the quest for a solution can lead one to look elsewhere, in the form of a singular extraterritoriality. Bruno Karsenti and Danny Trom examine the significance of a request made in Israel to hold a trial in absentia, in response to what seems in France to be a failing of our national institutions. We do not know if or when a criminal complaint will be filed, or whether it will be validated by Israel’s courts, but the prospect of such an event is an event in itself. The political import of the Halimi Affair is manifest in this development. What is at stake in this appeal made to Israel, rather than to a legal institution in Europe, such as the European High Court of Justice? How to consider the chance of such a change of venue?

The transnational is also a question in Mona El Khoury’s auto-fiction (semi-biographical tale). She recounts her winding personal and family story, vis-a-vis the multiple identities of Jewish, Muslim, Christian. Her own self-concept evolves in the course of queries from others, and she attempts to reconcile these diverse voices through the act of writing. “I feel like a visitor to my own surname,” she writes. “Someone who travels somewhere while maintaining a certain distance. I do not speak Arabic, the language from which it is derived; nor am I Christian, as the name indicates; nor am I Lebanese, as the name implies. The name ties me to my father, who could not or did not know how to pass on his culture. The name is a link to an absence.”


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As Minister of the Interior during the presidency of François Hollande, Bernard Cazeneuve had to deal with the wave of attacks in 2015. An interview about the threats to the Jews of France and the attacks they suffered, as well as his conception of the Republic and the relationship of Jews to it … >>>

The decision of the Cour de Cassation (French court of appeal), which confirmed the penal irresponsibility of Sarah Halimi’s murderer, has provoked a tremendous collective emotion. An unprecedented fact: the civil parties plan to fight, not on the French judicial terrain – which seems blocked to them – but by addressing themselves to Israel… >>>

“But why make yourself more Jewish than you are? You’re lucky not to have to carry that kind of name around; it just opens the door to anti-Semitic digs. And honestly, who really wants to be Jewish in France these days?”

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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.