France

Georges Clemenceau, France’s newspaper editor-cum-prime minister, endures in historical memory as an implacable foe of antisemitism. He was accused of being indebted to “the Jewish syndicate.” Reading Au pied du Sinai (At the Feet of Sinai, untranslated) might be surprised to find in this collection of short stories and monologues rhetoric that belies the text’s status as a pro-Jewish apologetic. Clemenceau regurgitates a bevy of antisemitic motifs in this book. Philippe Zard explains how at the turn of the century antisemites and anti-antisemites both drew on “a broad repertoire of shared representations” vis-a-vis Jews.

Last month, a group of almost three dozen members of the lower house of the French Parliament, the National Assembly, introduced a resolution labeling Israel an “apartheid state”. The deputies, hailing from the far-left France Insoumise (LFI) and Communist parties, set off a fiery debate in the chamber, as members of Emmanuel Macron’s government accused LFI of promoting antisemitism. Bruno Karsenti evaluates this latest controversy over antisemitism in France.

2022 marks the 100th anniversary of Marcel Proust’s death. For the occasion, the “Jewish side” of the author of In Search of Lost Time is the focus of unprecedented attention. The Museum of Jewish Art and History (mahJ) in Paris is showcasing an exhibition “Marcel Proust. Du côté de la mère” (on display through 28 August), whose principal academic advisor is Antoine Compagnon. The professor at the Collège de France has published a book entitled Marcel Proust du côté juif (Marcel Proust: From the Jewish Side) devoted to analyses of the work that have focused on its “Jewish” aspect. After reading this excellent work, Milo Lévy-Bruhl presents Proust from a new angle: as a product of the competing impulses in modern Judaism of return and emancipation.

How, in a few months, could a extreme right-wing Jewish leader create a large movement of support for him? And why can a number of French Jews consider voting for the nationalism embodied by this presidential candidate? A few days before the first round of the election, the editors of K. look back at a phenomenon that is seen as an affront to the Jewish experience.

In March 2012, an Islamist terrorist targeted the Ozar Hatorah Jewish School in Toulouse, France. For the first time since the Holocaust, there were Jewish children murdered close at hand in Europe. This week marks the tenth anniversary of the attack in which eight-year-old Myriam Monsonego, Jonathan Sandler and his two sons, Gabriel, three, and Arie, six, were killed. We met with Franck Touboul, the president of the the Jewish Community of Toulouse.

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.

The term “Israélite” has recently come back into the news following its repeated use by a polemicist-cum-presidential candidate in the French elections. However, the Israélite model that he claims to embody has nothing to do with the reality of what Israélitisme was. Through a vibrant tribute to Marcel Wormser, recently deceased, and to his father, Georges Wormser, Milo Lévy-Bruhl recovers the essence of this pre-war French Jewish phenomenon and discusses the reasons for its ultimate disappearance.

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.’

July 1942. Robert Klein is a Parisian art dealer who takes advantage of the Occupation to enrich himself on the backs of Jews forced to sell the pieces of art they own at low prices. One day, he receives a copy of “Information Juive” in his name. But isn’t Klein a good French Catholic? Who is this double? Is it a misunderstanding? A manipulation? Klein goes in search of this Other… and thereby of himself. Jean-Baptiste Thoret revisits Joseph Losey’s film on the occasion of its release on Blu-ray and an edited volume commenting this masterpiece made in 1976.

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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.