Monday, July 10, 2006


Both Katherine and my mother thought I might be interested in this article about the Dreyfus Affair. They know me well. Alan Riding called the message of the Affair "disturbingly topical," and I've in a sense chosen what I want to do on the basis of this fact. Riding says everything I wish I could say that concisely about France and Jews, then and now, so by all means read his article and don't bother with this blog. All he misses is the Dreyfus Affair-Herzl-Zionism connection--while Herzl may or may not have become a Zionist on account of witnessing Dreyfus's degradation, that's at the very least what Herzl himself claimed, and it's indisputable that the Affair helped to point Bernard Lazare and other intellectuals in Herzl's direction.

Riding makes the important point that the Dreyfus Affair and fate of French Jews during WWII are not only connected ideologically, but also chronologically--the anti-dreyfusards basically transitioned into the Vichy regime. Stating the obvious, but perhaps not for the NYT audience, Riding notes, "In a sense, then, today's Dreyfus Affair is the Halimi case, and both illustrate how easily a civilized society can slide into uncivilized behavior." Also worth thinking about: "Evidently it is easier to celebrate the centenary of that triumph of justice than it was to spotlight earlier anniversaries of less heartening moments in the affair."

Conclusion: French Jews, hmm? Haven't got anything better at the moment, but I'm working on it.

No comments: