Even if the results of the recent Israeli elections had been largely anticipated, they have had a startling effect: the most right-wing government in the country’s history is set to be formed, with a man in it – Itamar Ben-Gvir, the leader of the Otzma Yehudit [Jewish Force] party, of which Netanyahu has made his main ally. As Bruno Karsenti writes in his article: “The slope has been taken: the progressive forces, which have proved incapable of allying themselves and converging, and whose deficit on the social front has long since given way to the religious parties, have now been defeated in favour of a reactionary bloc whose open radicalism warrants all fears.” One of these fears: the prospect of a process that touches on the very redefinition of Zionism. In Israel, we now hear a slogan, which we were more used to in the old European nations: “We are at home”. But who is this “we” in the case of Israel? The original Zionist project seems to have gone astray – at least as seen from Europe and the Diaspora – if this formula is understood as the expression of an identity-based nationalism that intends to close off the country and fold it into a form of state that Ben-Gurion would not recognise. What does “being at home” mean in such a state, Bruno Karsenti asks, recalling that a certain idea of openness is structural to the idea that presides over the creation of Israel and its purpose of existence. In so doing, he shows us that the recent elections also call for a renewed reflection on the Israeli-Diaspora bipolarity.
This week, Sylvaine Bulle introduces us to a little-known moment in modern Jewish thought, but one that is part of the emancipatory dynamic of the Haskalah. By “anarcho-Judaism” the sociologist refers to the coherence of a theoretical current developed at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries by intellectuals, and sometimes rabbis, most of whom were educated in the yeshivot of Eastern Europe. This branche, at the intersection of Jewish tradition and anarchist thought, within which an ecological thought prefiguring forms of community and mutualist organizations emerged, where the relationship between the earth (adama) and social issues is forcefully affirmed, represents what Sylvaine Bulle designates as a “messianism of the here and now”. Her article gives an account of this political thought, interrupted by the first two world wars, but also of its paradoxical heritage; for if it is in contemporary ecological and libertarian movements that one finds traces of this anarchist and Jewish tradition, it is without it ever being mentioned as such. By ignorance? By avoidance?
Proust died on November 18, so just one hundred years ago this week. The year 2022 has been marked by an intense editorial activity in France around the author of La Recherche du temps perdu. Among the books published, that of Antoine Compagnon: Marcel Proust du côté juif (Gallimard). Milo Lévy-Bruhl has read it, taking an interest in Proust’s specific trajectory within French Judaism, but also comparing it to that of some of his readers – in particular André Spire, a fundamental actor in the 1920s of a Jewish affirmation critical of French-style assimilation conceived in the form of ‘israélitisme‘. “Proust’s pivot to modern Jews” can be read as a double portrait, that of the author of La Recherche and that of one of his readers seeking to annex him as a source enabling him to articulate an internal critique of French Judaism. And in the framework of this double portrait, Proust appears as a pivotal, and perhaps divided, figure whose work testifies to the internal tension of the French Jewish world at the beginning of the twentieth century, traversed by both the dynamics of individual emancipation and of “Jewish awakening”.