# 86 / Editorial

In a future issue, we will discuss the recent Israeli elections and what we can say about them from our situation in the Diaspora. In the meantime, in the Netanyahu family, let’s look not at the son, Benjamin, but at his father, the central character of Joshua Cohen’s novel The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family. This book was acclaimed in the United States – Joshua Cohen received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2022 – but it left Israeli critics relatively indifferent. Americans recognized themselves in it, while Israelis clearly did not grasp the meaning of the novel. Yet, seen from Europe, Danny Trom tells us, its scope is obvious. Those who hoped that the novel would deal with Binyamin Netanyahu, who is about to form the government that emerged from the last elections after too many years as Prime Minister, will certainly be disappointed. Because Cohen’s narration, which takes the form of an entertaining anecdote, is of a different kind. It concerns the arrival of the historian Bentzion Netanyahu, a candidate for a professorship at a provincial American university where the young professor Ruben Blum teaches. A zionist right-wing activist, father of a wild trio of kids, including Benjamin, he arrives in the the Blum family’s peaceful house on one winter day in 1959. Then, everything starts to waver. Through this satirical tale, Joshua Cohen delivers a diagnosis of a Jewish-American world that now doubts itself, as if the Jews, comfortably installed in their new Promised Land, were now having a “European” experience. With The Netanyahus, does Joshua Cohen announce the beginning of the end of the Jewish-American symbiosis?

1926, Paris. Symon Petloura – the general-in-chief of the Ukrainian nationalist revolution, whose men were responsible for about 40% of the crimes committed during the pogroms that occurred in Ukraine during the civil war (1918-1926) – is murdered in the street by Samuel Schwarzbard (“Assassin! This is for the massacres, this is for the pogroms!”) In the same year and in the same city, Petloura gave his name to the Ukrainian Library (still named as such). Its current director still says that Samuel Schwarzbard was an “agent of Moscow” whose action was intended to defeat Petlura’s plan for a Nationalist revolution. In his youth, Schwarzbard, born in Ukraine, lived for a time in Czernowitz, where the poet Paul Celan was born. Part of his poetry evokes the Ukraine and “the widest of rivers”, i. e. the long history of anti-Semitic crime that links the history of pogroms to that of the Holocaust. Ivan Segré immerses himself in Celan’s poetry and questions, on the basis of it, a memory of Ukraine; like the criminal gesture of Samuel Schwarzbard.

This week, we will evoke the recent Israeli elections in an indirect way, and in particular what it reveals of a polarization between religious Zionists and secularists, by republishing a text issued last year. Noémie Issan-Benchimol reviewed the TV show Autonomies, a dystopian story that imagines Israel split in two: on one side, the autonomous territory of Jerusalem ruled by an ultra-Orthodox religious group; on the other, a secular state with Tel Aviv as its capital; on one side, the Zionist country and on the other, the theological country.

The impromptu arrival of the Netanyahu family one day in the winter of 1959 under the roof of Ruben Blum’s family causes the life of the young history professor at a provincial university in New York State to falter. But how can we understand this explosive event that American novelist Joshua Cohen stages without giving us the key?

In 1926, Samuel Schwarzbard assassinated Symon Petloura, the general-in-chief of the Ukrainian nationalist revolution, whose men were responsible for about 40% of the exactions committed during the pogroms that struck the Ukraine during the civil war (1918-1926). Paul Celan was born in Czernowitz, where Schwarzbard lived for a time and is now in Ukraine. Part of his poetry evokes “the widest of rivers”, the long history of anti-Semitic crime that links the history of pogroms to that of the Shoah. Yvan Segré dives into Celan’s poetry and questions, from it, a memory of the Ukraine like the gesture of Samuel Schwarzbard.

The series Unorthodox and Shtisel have been worldwide successes, familiarizing audiences with Haredi life. Noémie Issan-Benchimol discusses another Israeli series for K., Autonomies, which imagines the nation riven in two: on one side, the autonomous territory of Jerusalem, a theocracy led by the ultra-Orthodox; on the other side, the secular and Zionist state of Israel, its capital Tel Aviv.

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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.