# 77 / Editorial

A few days after the desecration of the Jewish cemetery in Carpentras in 1990, the great philosopher Jean-François Lyotard reacted in an article published in Libération. “Europe, the Jews and the Book” is a short, radical and striking text, like an uppercut in the good conscience of Europeans. After emphasizing the irreducible singularity of antisemitism which, according to him, should not, as is customary, be thought of at the same time as racism. Indeed, the author of The Postmodern Condition asserts that “the desecration of graves and the display on a pallet of a corpse torn from its coffin in the Jewish cemetery of Carpentras say something specific: it is that after the Shoah, the Jews have no right to their dead and to the memory of their dead (…) I say that the Jews represent something that Europe does not want or cannot know anything about. Even in death, it abolishes their memory (…) All this happens in its unconscious.” It was one of Jean-François Lyotard’s great affairs, in the second part of his work, to work out and elaborate a thought underlying such a position – “the Jews represent something of which Europe does not want to know or cannot know anything.” Jacques Ehrenfreund introduces our republication this week of this seminal text of Lyotard, who is one of the rare non-Jewish philosophers who attempted to philosophically expose himself to the event of extermination, to confront Auschwitz as the breaking point of the West’s destiny, and to be preoccupied at the very heart of his thought by the destruction of the Jews of Europe. Published thirty years ago in the press, “Europe, the Jews and the Book” remains a fascinating object of meditation, an invitation to delve into others Lyotard’s Jewish texts. K. is happy to bring it to light again.

Macha Fogel met with Tal Hever-Chybowski. He may be the director of the Paris’ Medem Library, the largest Yiddish center in Europe, but it is Hebrew that will be discussed with him. Not the Hebrew that is his mother tongue, but a Hebrew that he refuses to confine to the borders of the State of Israel. “My typically Israeli education had hidden from me the role of Europe in the modernity of Hebrew,” he explains. So he founded a magazine, Mikan Ve’eylakh, to question the history and diasporic possibilities of Hebrew. What results is an original and fascinating reflection on the place of this language: “[the linguistic question] becomes political when I say, and this will be of interest to K., that our language, Hebrew, has its place here, in a Europe that must accept it and give it the possibility of existing on its soil.”

During the night of May 8-9, 1990, a group of neo-Nazis broke into the Jewish cemetery in Carpentras and desecrated about 30 graves. The philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, his pen stirred by events, commented on the persistence of antisemitism in postwar Europe in an article in the Liberation newspaper. Lyotard’s article, emblematic of his later interest in “the Jewish question” in post-Holocaust Europe, has become a reference of specialists, who have passed it around in the intervening three decades. K. is reprinting the text in both English and French so that a wider public can engage with it. Jacques Ehrenfreund, professor of Jewish history at the University of Lausanne, prefaces the philosopher’s landmark meditation.

Tal Hever-Chybowski is the director of the Paris Yiddish Center – Medem Library, the largest center for Yiddish language and literature in Europe. His native language, however, is Hebrew, which is the focus of journal he has founded, Mikan Ve’eylakh (“From Now On/From Here On”). The journal’s novelty rests in its treatment of Hebrew not as the exclusive property of the State of Israel, but as a Diasporic language in its own right. Mikan Ve’eylakh’s two issues feature articles, short stories and poems by Hebrew writers living in the Diaspora. Macha Fogel, K.’s Yiddishland correspondent, recently met up with Hever-Chybowski to discuss his project.

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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.