Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Anti-Semitism in France?

Robert Zaretsky uses the recent polemic between Alain Finkielkraut on one side and Alain Badiou and Eric Hazan on the other as an occasion to revisit the history of French intellectual constructions of anti-Semitism. I use the word "constructions" deliberately, because the relation of these evolving polemics to the underlying reality is an elusive and much-debated topic. Those who have followed this story over the years won't learn anything new from Zaretsky's essay, but to those who haven't, this is a valuable recap and introduction.

Here's the TV debate to which Zaretsky refers:


Jeremy Kargon said...

My own impression of Zaretzky's article is that his rhetoric is poorly constructed, as though he believes that if not for BHL or Finkielkraut, political discourse in France would remain on its even keel, without distraction or misdirection. If I'm not mistaken, the clip you posted is not a monologue.

And Zaretzky's account of Badiou and Hazan's critique doesn't make me eager to read more. Do we have to agree that the "stigmatisation" of French Muslims is really the fault of... guess who!

But, mostly, the writer reminds me of what Von Neumann said about the atomic scientists' having "known sin": "Sometimes someone confesses a sin in order to take credit for it." Is it so important (and therefore plausible) for Zaretzky to place Jews squarely at the core of French intellectual history? Not for me...

petitrobert36 said...

Thanks for posting the debate. Almost independent of the issues, the passion, style and intelligence they show is a delight to watch.