#46 / Editorial


Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus wander through Dublin on a long day like everyone else. Bloom is the modern-day Odysseus who finally returns home in the middle of the night. But why did Joyce, a pure Irishman, albeit an expatriate, make his hero of Ulysses a Jew? Mitchell Abidor wonders if Bloom was Jewish, recalling that Bloom’s father was a Hungarian emigrant who converted to Protestantism and that his son Leopold converted to Catholicism, taking care to be baptized… three times. The story of a gradual integration into the majority community of the host country? Except that in Leopold Bloom, both in himself and through the eyes of others, his lost identity comes back in waves like a recessive gene that pulsates intermittently. For Joyce, whose words a critic reported in the New York Times, there is no doubt: “Bloom Jewish? Yes, because only a foreigner would do. The Jews were foreigners at that time in Dublin. There was no hostility toward them, but contempt, yes, the contempt people always show for the unknown.” Leopold Bloom, Dublin Marrano. A character with a multiple and troubled identity is this eternal minority sent by Joyce into the Irish and Catholic reality to better reveal its underside.

Ireland again, but in the North – and a century later. Élie Petit had already recounted in K. how a tiny community (about a hundred Jews in Belfast today) was caught in a Kafkaesque situation, since Brexit, struggling to purchase kosher meat and poultry. This week, Jacob Judah explains how Northern Ireland is remotely replaying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by projecting into it the history of their conflict between Catholic Republicans and Protestant Unionists.

Provided that these conflicts are reduced to their bloody component, they could be used by Éric Zemmour to exemplify his conception of history. A conception in which history is “reduced to its lowest neo-Hegelian or meta-Marxist common denominator,” as philosopher Gérard Bensussan states this week in his piece “Zemmour, the Jews, and Democracy.” Everything would be a conflict of interests and a balance of power; liberal democracy would be the space for renunciation; assimilation into the powerful nation would be the only viable path for the Jews of France. And the philosopher notes that Zemmour spares Europe, the rule of law, democracy that renounces itself, and everything that, according to him, flouts the sovereign unity of a strong nation, less than his competitors in radicalism – including jihadists…

Ulysses is now one hundred years old. James Joyce’s novel was published in its original full text in Paris on February 2, 1922. Leopold Bloom is one of the two main characters of the book. Fans of Joyce’s cult novel have never ceased to speculate about the identity and personality of this son of a Hungarian emigrant, converted to Catholicism and baptized three times. Jewish or not Jewish, Leopold Bloom? Or rather what kind of Jew? Mitchell Abidor investigates the biography and beliefs of one of Ulysses’ heroes.

The streets of West Belfast and Derry offer a sharp, if unlikely, reminder of the Middle East, as Republicans and Unionists identify with the Palestinian and Israeli causes. In the middle of all this lies a small, somewhat bewildered Jewish community.

How to characterize “Zemmourism”? The philosopher Gérard Bensussan considers the way in which Eric Zemmour asserts himself as a “Berber-Jew” and a nostalgic of French “israelitism”, questioning the vision of history that underlies the far-right polemicist’s blind nostalgia as well as his adoration of force. In his text for K., he points out what appears to him to be a curious affinity of the candidate of “La Reconquête” with a form of stale Marxism that also deeply impregnates the ideology of the radical left.

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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.