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Reflections on Anti-Semitism

Dissecting how facile accusations of "anti-Semitism" are used to stifle dissent.

Since the inception of the "War on Terror", Israel has become increasingly important to Western imperial strategy and ever more aggressive in its policies towards the Palestinians.  A key ideological weapon in this development is the cynical and unjustified accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ to silence protest and dissent.

For historical reasons, this tactic has been deployed most forcefully in France, and in the first of the two essays in this book French writers Alain Badiou and Eric Hazan demolish the ‘anti-Semitism is everywhere’ claim used to bludgeon critics of the Israeli state and those who stand in solidarity with the banlieue youth.

In "The Philo-Semitic Reaction", Ivan Segré undertakes a meticulous deconstruction of a rampant reactionary trend that identifies Jewish interests with the ‘democratic’ West.  Segré’s aim is to uphold a universalist position and to defend Jewish tradition from Zionist ideological distortion.

Reviews

  • “The calm and smiling power [of Segré’s work] lies in the logical rigor with which he reads texts.”
  • “French anti-Semitism is a very different animal to the diffuse form that has existed in the UK and these essays...help us comprehend its complexities. Walking round Tel Aviv nowadays you are more likely to hear French spoken than English. Reading these essays it is not difficult to understand why.”

Blog

  • Performances

    In any case, what sticks out amidst this mass vote is a feeling of absurdity. The absurdity of a mechanism that brings to power a man we know nothing about, and who has grounded his success precisely in his capacity to say nothing (the back cover of his book Révolution has not one line of text, but just a full page photo of Macron himself). The absurdity of a system that gives a crushing majority to such a man, in order to avoid a danger that is largely imaginary. Most of all, the absurdity of a focus on elections that we all feel have nothing to do with our lives, and which we all feel are playing out on a sort of flying carpet, above our heads.

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  • Post-fascism: a mutation still underway

    This interview with Enzo Traverso was first published in L'humanité. Translated by David Broder. 


    June 2015 press conference of far right 'Europe of Nations and Freedom' bloc within European Parliament. 

    In his Les Nouveaux Visages du Fascisme, historian Enzo Traverso analyses the mutations of the European far Right movements that have emerged from "the fascist matrix."1 According to Traverso, the Left has to "offer political perspectives again" in order to occupy "the immense void" that is today being filled by both jihadism and a "post-fascism" that excludes Muslims.

    Are Europe’s far-Right movements (the AfD in Germany, the Front National in France, Jobbik in Hungary…) adopting the same codes as fascism or Nazism?

    Enzo Traverso: First of all, these movements do share common traits, including their rejection of the European Union, their xenophobia and their racism, in particular in its Islamophobic dimension. Beyond these markers, we can see notable differences. There are clearly neo-fascist or neo-Nazi movements, like Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary, etc., whose radicalism is often linked to the extent of the crisis, even if in Greece the rise of Syriza did put a lid on this dynamic. As for France, the Front National does have a fascist matrix, and there are certainly neo-fascists in the party, but its discourse is no longer fascist. After all, it has made a considerable effort at ideological mutation, and that is one of the keys to its success. If it still advanced neo-fascist arguments it would not get a hearing, and could certainly not hope to reach the second round of the presidential election.

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  • Culture

    This piece first appeared in lundimatin. Translated by David Broder.


    Stendhal wrote cela [that] with a double l, which got him in trouble when he was working as a functionary at the War Ministry. In fact, he was no good at literature when he was studying, and his goal was to enter the École polytechnique — like Octave in his Armance, as well as his Lucien Leuwen. His whole life, he wrote in an unreadable spidery scrawl with countless errors – so much so that he had to dictate The Charterhouse of Parma. He did so in seven weeks, which is pretty quick for what is not a thin volume. Sainte-Beuve found Stendhal’s novels "frankly detestable." He could not stand Balzac, to the point that he refused to attend a dinner where he risked meeting him. He really liked Baudelaire, however, finding him a to be "nice boy, fine in his language and entirely classical in form." Balzac would have loved to be in the Académie française, but when he presented himself as a candidate he only got four votes, and it was instead the Duke of Noailles who was chosen to replace Chateaubriand. Baudelaire had also thought of putting himself forward, and when he withdrew his candidacy, Sainte-Beuve congratulated him on having left "a good impression."

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Other books by Alain Badiou, Eric Hazan, and Ivan Segré