Betrayed by Europe: An Expatriate's Lament
Washington, D.C., November 29, 2003
It is not so easy to know when you’re deluding yourself and when you are finally seeing the light. When I look back at my reasons for leaving the United States for France in 1972, some seem to me as outmoded—and, in retrospect, as endearing—as Beatles haircuts and Vietnam-war protests. Others stubbornly persist. In any event, my career as a serious American novelist having been short-circuited, I opted for the improbable exploit of becoming a writer in French and a professional translator, and I succeeded. I am long settled in Paris; the three youngsters I brought there, tucked under my free-flying wing, are mature adults with fast-growing children of their own. We have excelled in flexibility, risen to every challenge, transformed somewhat slapdash beginnings into a harmonious whole.
What happened? The sea change began on September 28, 2000, when the domestic repercussions of Arafat’s prefabricated “al-Aqsa” intifada in Jerusalem struck me in a dizzying instant of recognition. I was hardly alone. Stunned and dazed, the formerly integrated, assimilated, liberated, progressive, and (in some cases) indifferent Jews of France found themselves—ourselves—thrust out of the body politic and herded into a virtual ghetto. In the years since then, things have only gotten worse, much worse.
About the Author
Nidra Poller, who lives in Paris, has written for National Review Online, Frontpage, the New York Sun, and other publications. Her essay, “Betrayed by Europe: An Expatriate’s Lament,” appeared in the March 2004 COMMENTARY.