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I said goodbye, and took the Métro to Porte de Vincennes.Stations near the market were closed, so I walked through neighborhoods crowded with police. Teenagers gathered by the barricades, taking selfies. One young man, however, said of the victims, “It’s just the Feuj.” Feuj, an inversion of Juif—“Jew”—is often used as a slur.Finkielkraut’s cast of mind is generally dark, but when we met in Paris in early January, two days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, he was positively grim.“My French identity is reinforced by the very large number of people who openly declare, often now with violence, their hostility to French values and culture,” he said. There is so much guilt and so much worry.” We were seated at a table in his apartment, near the Luxembourg Gardens.
(Some in Europe and the Middle East take this line of thought to an even more extreme conclusion: “Those who condemn Hitler day and night have surpassed Hitler in barbarism,” the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said last year of Israel.)The previously canonical strain of European anti-Semitism, the fascist variant, still flourishes in places.
In Hungary, a leader of the right-wing Jobbik party called on the government—a government that has come under criticism for whitewashing the history of Hungary’s collaboration with the Nazis—to draw up a list of all the Jews in the country who might pose a “national-security risk.” In Greece, a recent survey found that 69 percent of adults hold anti-Semitic views, and the fascists of the country’s Golden Dawn party are open in their Jew-hatred.
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.
The Church blamed the Jews for killing Jesus; Voltaire blamed the Jews for inventing Christianity.
In the febrile minds of anti-Semites, Jews were usurers and well-poisoners and spreaders of disease.Sale Juif—“dirty Jew”—rang in the streets, as did “Death to the Jews,” and “Jews to the gas.”The epithet dirty Jew, Zola wrote in “J’Accuse …! As Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, has observed, Europe has added to the global lexicon of bigotry such terms as Inquisition, blood libel, auto‑da‑fé, ghetto, pogrom, and Holocaust.Europe has blamed the Jews for an encyclopedia of sins.(In The Eternal Anti-Semite, the writer Henryk Broder popularized the notion that “the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.”) Israel is coming to be understood not as a small country in a difficult spot whose leaders, especially lately, have (in my opinion) been making shortsighted and potentially disastrous decisions, but as a source of cosmological evil—the Jew of nations.An argument made with increasing frequency—motivated, perhaps, by some perverse impulse toward psychological displacement—calls Israel the spiritual and political heir of the Third Reich, rendering the Jews as Nazis.Jews were the creators of both communism and capitalism; they were clannish but also cosmopolitan; cowardly and warmongering; self-righteous moralists and defilers of culture.Ideologues and demagogues of many permutations have understood the Jews to be a singularly malevolent force standing between the world and its perfection.Finkielkraut sees himself as an alienated man of the left.He says he loathes both radical Islamism and its most ferocious French critic, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s extreme right-wing—and once openly anti-Semitic—National Front party.Renewed vitriol among right-wing fascists and new threats from radicalized Islamists have created a crisis, confronting Jews with an agonizing choice.“All comes from the Jew; all returns to the Jew.”— Édouard Drumont (1844–1917), founder of the Anti-Semitic League of France I.The Scourge of Our Time The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, the son of Holocaust survivors, is an accomplished, even gifted, pessimist.