In this essay, first published at Les mots sont importants, Christine Delphy and Sylvie Tissot react to the storm created by Nicolas Sarkozy’s comments on French national identity in the build-up to the French presidential election. Translated by David Broder
Maurice Barrès and the far right Ligue des Patriotes, 1912. via Wikimedia Commons.
"Once you become French, your ancestors are the Gauls," declared Nicolas Sarkozy, bringing a deluge of protests. As people everywhere told him, our ancestors are far more numerous and diverse than "the Gauls" alone. Yet such protests are insufficient. For what we need to attack are the very terms of this debate.
The Israeli historian Shlomo Sand made his name with his critical re-reading of the history of Israel, nationalism and Jewish identity. Trained in the French historical school, he is also a keen observer of intellectual life in Paris. His most recent book, devoted to the decline of a milieu which he once so admired, concludes with a sombre diagnosis. Translated by David Broder.
"When an intellectual makes eulogies to the police, the army, and the forces of the state, then he is out-of-step with the history of France since Voltaire. Houellebecq accuses the government of not being sufficiently militaristic. How can we imagine an intellectual, a writer, an artist taking a stance against the authorities saying they aren’t ‘muscular’ enough? It is astonishing to see how the intellectuals dominating the debate today are against immigrants, against foreigners, against the weakest [...] This neoconservatism is a sign of the times."
This summer in France has been marked by constant rows, with the introduction of anti-burkini edicts and fines for veiled women. Does France have a problem with Islam and Muslims? As Shlomo Sand, professor in contemporary history at the University of Tel-Aviv and author of The Invention of the Jewish People writes, ‘People used to say that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Today, it’s laïcité’.
Edited by Sébastien Billard and originally published in L’Obs. Translated by David Broder.
At least 30 Israeli airstrikes took place over Gaza on Sunday 21st August in the latest Israeli military attacks, the worst since the 2014 war.
Before the July 2014 offensive when 2,100 Palestinians—mostly civilians—were killed, the last large-scale escalation was in November 2012, when the Israeli military bombarded the Gaza Strip with air strikes for eight days. Those strikes killed 171 Palestinians, including more than 100 civilians. In 2008-2009, Israeli soldiers launched a 22-day military operation in Gaza, dubbed Operation Cast Lead. About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed, according to Al Jazeera.
Reports of the Israeli air raids on northern Gaza began at around 10pm local time (7pm GMT). Photo: Al Jazeera
In light of these recent airstrikes, Verso presents a reading list of books that contextualise the political motivations behind these assaults and, more importantly, how Israel have been able to carry out such atrocities without reprisal. Here, we present a list of books from Israeli, Palestinian, and anti-imperialist authors, to explain the conflict and consider what the future might hold.
In recent months we’ve witnessed a cascade of articles and calls for help by all sorts of learned people on the liberal left crying out that fascism is threatening Israel. Some of them claim that it’s already here; others warn that it’s about to arrive