Jews, Europe, the XXIst century (2024)

Jews, Europe, the XXIst century

# 171 July 04, 2024

The National Rally (RN), a nationalist, racist and antisemitic party, is on the brink of power in France. We therefore devote this week’s issue to the unique and indisputable challenge of this second round: the need to resolutely oppose the extreme right.

If we’ve reached this point, it’s because, without changing anything in its ideological matrix, it has managed to pass itself off in the eyes of a significant proportion of the French population as something it could never be: a credible political alternative, a responsible and modern party. At the heart of this well-known “dediabolization” operation is the idea that the RN has rid itself of its antisemitism.

From now on, the devil dresses as a philosemite. Julia Christ’s text examines the context in which the RN’s claim to be a “shield for Jews” may have been founded. And what responsibilities need to be assumed if we are to mount an effective opposition to an antisemitism that now knows how to move forward in disguise.

In order to dispel the illusion that the RN has become the defender of the Jews, and that the latter are therefore rallying it in large numbers, we publish a cross-interview between Johan Weisz – editor-in-chief of the extreme right media specialist Streetpress – and Jonathan Hayoun – co-author, with Judith Cohen Solal of an investigation (La main du diable : Comment l’extrême droite a voulu séduire les Juifs de France [The Devil’s Hand: How the extreme right sought to seduce France’s Jews ] (Grasset, 2019)) –on the evolution of its discourse and strategy concerning the Jews.

In our third text for this week we focus – as reflected in the dialogue between Bruno Karsenti and Danny Trom – on the dilemma facing Jews on the left, which has long been their political home, and which should be their refuge from the rise of the extreme right

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Jews, Europe, the XXIst century (1)

The far right, the Jews and the others: If only we had known

  • Julia Christ

We know without a shadow of a doubt that the far right is structurally antisemitic. We even know it so well that we sometimes forget that antisemitism is not structurally extreme right-wing. In this text, Julia Christ examines the deleterious effects of this discrepancy between what is known, and what does not want to be known. Without changing its ideological matrix, the far right has turned suspicion into strength - the ability to assume what it does and control what it says - aided and abetted by opponents who, rather than assuming their political responsibility, take refuge in childish posturing: "we didn't know...".


Jews, Europe, the XXIst century (2)

Investigating an antisemitic RN: Interview with Jonathan Hayoun and Johan Weisz

  • Elie Petit

Some people claim that the French far-right party Rassemblement National (RN) is no longer antisemitic, and that the vast majority of Jews would vote for Bardella. To discuss these two dubious assertions, we spoke to film director and essayist Jonathan Hayoun-- notably the author, with Judith Cohen-Solal, of La main du diable : Comment l'extrême droite a voulu séduire les Juifs de France (Grasset,2019) [TN:The Devil's Hand: How the far right tried to seduce the Jews of France] --,and Johan Weisz, journalist and editor-in-chief and committed founder of the online media StreetPress. Interviewed by Elie Petit, they question the idea that, beyond the communication strategy, there would be a real normalization of the RN, while questioning the feeling of danger in which the Jews of France live, and its political consequences.

With parliamentary elections approaching in France, and the issue of antisemitism taking center stage in the political debate, the editorial staff of K. felt it was their duty to take a stand. However, given the existential and strategic dilemma facing Jews, we felt it was impossible for this position to be expressed in a single voice: it had to be divided. Two Jewish voices, those of Bruno Karsenti and Danny Trom, are thus articulated and answered here. Let there be no mistake: the aim is not to make each hold one pole of the electoral dilemma, but rather to grasp it at two different levels. First, that of the philosopher, who poses it from the point of view of what the reference to the Jewish condition represents, or should represent, for the Jews themselves, and above all for the Left and its future. Then that of the sociologist, who takes charge of the practical dimension of the dilemma, illuminating through the strategies of perseverance in exile the embarrassment and wanderings of Jews who no longer know where to look for security.


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Jewish violence, our malaise

  • Danny Trom

The result of Zionism, in other words, access to political sovereignty, also meant that the Jewish state had to exercise violence. In this text, Danny Trom returns to the difficulties of coming to terms with the violence inflicted, and its articulation with the violence suffered by Jews. It seems as though, after the Zionist revolution, Jews could only oscillate in their relationship to violence.


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The scrutinized university in the wake of pro-Palestinian mobilizations

  • Tal Rosenthal

Since the student mobilizations in support of Gaza began, universities have become the focus of media and political curiosity. But what does the situation look like from the inside? A student familiar with the activist world gives us their view of what happened in the universities, the forces at play and the ambiguities that run through the pro-Palestinian mobilization.


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From Odessa to Nir Oz. A linguistic history of the pogrom

  • Elena Guritanu

Pogrom is the term by which the memory of persecution in Eastern Europe has found its way into Jewish memory. But when did it appear, and how was it used? For this text, Elena Guritanu delved into the dictionaries of the last two centuries, in order to trace the history of this term which, because it designates an undeniable horror, has itself been the object of omissions and denials.


Jews, Europe, the XXIst century (7)

The Eternal Settler

  • Benjamin Wexler

In Canada, a fresh iteration of anti-Judaism takes shape. Ben Wexler, a recent graduate from McGill University in Montreal, watched with alarm as a wave of attacks swept through his hometown’s Jewish community. A series of firebombings, shootings, and vandalismtargeted Jewish schools, synagogues, community centres, and businesses, beginning after October 7 and continuing into the present.At the same time, protests against Israel often cross into explicit antisemitism and incitement. Wexler notes a curious variation on anti-Zionist formulas: Canada’s Jews – the Diaspora’s third-largest community, at 300,000 strong – are regarded as a distinctly ‘settler’ population, alongside the Yishuv and the modern state of Israel.


Jews, Europe, the XXIst century (8)

The return of the little “h” (typographical slips and antisemitism)

  • Judith Lyon-Caen

For Jews, the current political situation gives the impression of being caught in a bind, as if it were impossible to position oneself without betraying oneself. In this text, Judith Lyon-Caen bears witness to the doubts that beset her, and to the way in which one too many of a simple little “h” can mark the impossibility of breaking free from it.

October 7

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Student mobilization and the antisemitism of the future

  • Bruno Karsenti

What is it that explains the ability of anti-Zionism to unify protests in the name of emancipation, and the fact that Israel has become the focal point of criticism from universities? In a measured and enlightening text, Bruno Karsenti takes a step-by-step look at the language of student protests, to gain a perspective on the political reconfigurations that lie ahead. In this language, two notions are opposed as irreconcilable: the nation, the only historically realized political form of collective and individual emancipation, and an apolitical fetish – the solution to all ills – autochthony. A drifting critique haunts the university, which instead of reflexively reclaiming the potential of the political form nation – which has undeniably led to crimes – opposes it with the fantasy of a pure, authentic people. Unbeknownst to the students, it is the old ‘Jewish question’ that finds a new formulation, around the unthinkable persistence of the Jewish people in the modern nation.


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Etgar Keret: “When you say Israel is committing genocide, it means you don’t want to have any conversation.”

  • Emmy Barouh

Etgar Keret is a leading Israeli writer, whose talent for blending the mundane with the magical is appreciated both in Israel and abroad. In this interview conducted by Emmy Barouh a week ago, Keret evokes the feeling that, since October 7 and as the government plunges the country into war, the reality experienced by Israelis is losing its consistency, and escaping any grip they may have had on it.


Jews, Europe, the XXIst century (11)

Can the Left’s Coalition EmbraceJewishVoters?

  • The Editors

The rise of the far-right party of France in the recent European elections, begs the question for many Jewish voters who their votes should go to where they can even find representation… If the union of the left is desirable, it’s on the condition that it is purged of its antisemitic tendencies, even when they are cloaked in anti-Zionism. Otherwise, it may be called “united”, but it will no longer be truly “left-wing”. If the legislative elections confirm the division of the national public sphere between an alliance of the right around the RN and an alliance of the left around LFI, a trap will have closed on the Jews of France and, with them, on all citizens for whom democracy, the rule of law and social progress, in a united Europe, constitute an ideal.


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Arabic: my dead Jewish language

  • Yossef Murciano

Méssaouda is an Arab-Jewish great-grandmother who has just passed on. Yossef Murciano, her great-grandson, remembers her history, her humor, her language, and, above all, the memory of a lack of understanding. In this text, the distant descendant recalls his strange familiarity with Moroccan Jewish culture, in which he has been immersed all his life, without ever really knowing it.

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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.

Jews, Europe, the XXIst century (2024)
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