# 93 / Editorial

The great Canadian historian Michael R. Marrus died a few days ago. A specialist in French Judaism, he wrote the classic The Politics of Assimilation: The French Jewish Community at the Time of the Dreyfus Affair, published in France by Roger Errera in his collection Diaspora at Calmann-Lévy in 1972. It was this same Roger Errera who, at the same time, asked Robert Paxton to undertake what would become Vichy France and the Jews. In December of last year, Robert Paxton authorized us to publish an unedited text in which he recounted the events leading up to the writing of this book, which was about to revolutionize French historiography and remembrance. Beginning in 1971, Paxton found the writing of this book to be very difficult and in 1976 he was about to abandon the project when he was joined by a young historian: Michael R. Marrus. With his help, the work was resumed, and Vichy France and the Jews was completed in 1981. As a tribute to Michael R. Marrus, this week we are re-issuing the account of Robert Paxton.

In this last issue of the year, before the return of original texts in the first week of January, K. also republishes our interview with David Nirenberg. The great American historian had first argued that forms of hostility towards Jews varied according to place, time and circumstance, taking on a singular face each time, before changing his perspective. In Anti-Judaism. The Western Tradition, on which David Haziza questions him, Nirenberg argues that anti-Judaism structures the thought of the Christian West, so that its infinite variations are manifestations of one and the same phenomenon, so many replicas of one and the same scheme.

Lastly, we re-issue the text on the assassination of Dr. Joseph Wybran, president of the C.C.O.J.B. (The Jewish community of Belgium) in 1989. Agnès Bensimon has reopened this sprawling file and takes stock of an impossible investigation and a clear denial of justice. From Brussels to the Kingdom of Morocco, from international terrorist networks to the failures of the police and of the justice system, a fascinating investigation on a scandal that has been widely publicized in Belgium but has remained little known outside.


Thirty years ago, the great historical account “Vichy France and the Jews,” by Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton, was published simultaneously in French and English. Released in a new edition in 2015, the book is now experiencing increased interest in France, where some are questioning the responsibility of France in the persecution of Jews under the German occupation. In 2015, on the occasion of a tribute to the man – Roger Errera – who was at the origin of the work’s inception, Robert Paxton revisited the difficult process of researching and writing this book, which so fundamentally challenged France’s ‘resistance myth.’

David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition proved an instant classic of Jewish studies on its publication a decade ago. Nirenberg, Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, presents anti-Judaism as a structural discourse in the history of the West (and arguably in the history of the world at large). The figure of the “Jew,” and the bugbear of “Judaism,” he maintains, have served as epistemic tools for philosophers and theologians to define themselves – and Western civilization – over and against. In such a scheme, Judaism morphs from religion into foil, the Jew from living being into abstraction; and even societies hosting few or no Jews can entertain “Jewish questions.” Nirenberg’s study starts in the Egypt of the Hellenistic Period and ends in our own time.

On 3 October 1989, at around 6 pm, Dr. Joseph Wybran, a leading doctor and president of the C.C.O.J.B, the Belgian Jewish federation , was shot at close range in the parking lot of the Erasmus hospital in Brussels. Thirty-three years later, justice has still not been served. Agnès Bensimon reviews for K. the twists and turns of an investigation into a murder whose treatment by the Belgian police and justice system raises questions.

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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.