For half a century, memories of the Holocaust limited anti-Semitism on the Continent.
For half a century, memories of the Holocaust limited anti-Semitism on the Continent.That period has ended—the recent fatal attacks in Paris and Copenhagen are merely the latest examples of rising violence against Jews.
Emancipation and enlightenment opened the broader culture to Jews, who came to prominence in politics, philosophy, the arts, and science—Chagall and Kafka, Einstein and Freud, Lévi-Strauss and Durkheim. When the survivors of the Shoah emerged from the camps, and from hiding places in cities and forests across Europe, they were met on occasion by pogroms.But he has lately come to find radical Islamism to be a more immediate, even existential, threat to France than the National Front. I think there is real violence in her,” he told me.“But she is so successful because there actually is a problem of Islam in France, and until now she has been the only one to dare say it.”Suddenly, there was news: a kosher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, in eastern Paris, had come under attack. “The Jews.” Even before anti-Semitic riots broke out in France last summer, Finkielkraut had become preoccupied with the well-being of France’s Jews.“It would be easier for the left to defend the Jews if the attackers were white and rightists.”I asked him a very old Jewish question: Do you have a bag packed?“We should not leave,” he said, “but maybe for our children or grandchildren there will be no choice.”Reports suggested that a number of people were dead at the market.To his disciples, he is a Jewish Zola, accusing France’s bien-pensant intellectual class of complicity in its own suicide.To his foes, he is a reactionary whose nostalgia for a fairy-tale French past is induced by an irrational fear of Muslims.I located an acquaintance, a man who volunteers with the Jewish Community Security Service, a national organization founded after a synagogue bombing in 1980, to protect Jewish institutions from anti-Semitic attack. We made our way closer to the forward police line, and heard volleys of gunfire.The police had raided the market; the suspect, Amedy Coulibaly, we soon heard, was dead. They had been shopping for the Sabbath when he entered the market and started shooting.Despite this history of sorrow, Jews spent long periods living unmolested in Europe.And even amid the expulsions and persecutions and pogroms, Jewish culture prospered.