Commentary Magazine


French Jews

To the Editor:

Renee Winegarten’s article [“Jews in the Mind of France,” November 1970] perfectly describes those subterranean currents in the spiritual tradition of France. From Napoleon to Charles de Gaulle there have often been pressures upon French Jews to renounce their authenticity as Jews so that they might “deserve” full recognition as French citizens. (Clermont-Tonnerre: “To Jews as individuals—everything; as a nation—nothing”). Contrary to the American democratic attitude, French rationalism, despite Barrès, Sartre, or Gide, denies Jews the right to be different. Therefore, that tenacious provincial animosity, with its recent explosions in Orléans. These resentments are nourished by bestsellers, in the style of Drummond, like Le château de la Juive by Guy de Cars; in this novel, Eva Goloski, a refugee from Warsaw, “the dirtiest ghetto of Europe,” is characterized as a depraved super-Shylock, debasing French society by means of her “Jewish splendor in all its aggressivity.” This formula reminds us of Charles de Gaulle’s definition of the Jewish people: un peuple dominateur, sûr de luimeme.

Rabbi Chaim Lehrmann
West Berlin, Germany

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