UC Berkeley’s Dr. Ethan Katz talks about how Jewish Resistance Fighters captured Algiers for the Allies in 1942. Then we discuss the history and importance of Jewish-Muslim relations in France, which has the largest population of both in the EU.
Jewish-Muslim Relations in Modern France with Dr. Ethan Katz
Hello everyone. This is your host Gary. On a recent trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, I had the
opportunity to interview Professor Ethan Katz of UC Berkeley. Professor Katz is an incredibly
accomplished scholar with a list of awards grants and fellowships for his books. That is so long
that it could be a book in and of itself. His most recent book was The Burdens of Brotherhood:
Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France, published by Harvard University Press in 2015.
And as the primary topic of today’s interview. Professor Katz specializes in both the history of
Jews and modern France and the history of Jewish Muslim relations in modern France. France is
an incredibly important country for Jews. France was the first country to give Jews full political
rights under Emperor Napoleon. During the 19th century tens if not hundreds of thousands of
Jews emigrated to France from the east as they fled the Russian pogroms. Today France has the
third highest population of Jews in the world behind Israel and the United States. France also has
the second largest Muslim population of any European country behind Russia. As such Jewish
Muslim relations are incredibly important within France. In what follows, Professor Katz tries to
untangle the complex history of Jews, the development of their identity in the 20th century, and
their relationship with Muslims. If there is a central theme to this episode it is that of Frenchness
as Jews and Muslims have alternately accepted or rejected a French identity and in turn tried to
have their identities accepted by France and its people. Please enjoy.
Gary: Thank you very much for being with us Professor Katz I am very excited about this interview because this does seem to be very relevant but also a very hot button issue that you’re dealing with. I’m sure we can talk about potential controversies as we get along but you focus on Jews in 20th century France. From my understanding this was a time of intense contradictions. On the one hand Jews were much more tolerated in France than much of the rest of Europe. In the preceding century hundreds of thousands of Jews migrated from the east to France and this continued into the 20th century. Meanwhile in part because of these mass migrations many on the far right promoted anti-Semitic policies and stereotypes. Can you tell us about the intense and
contradictory place of Jews in France in the first half of the 20th century?
Sure. Thank you for having me on the podcast. I’m happy to be here. A lot of what you’re
describing there really is centered in the 1930s and 1940s. The largest migrations of Jews to
France occur from the late 19th century to the late 1930s and really the largest one takes place in
the interwar years when the population grows from one hundred and ten thousand to over three
hundred thousand. And as you say, the majority of those people come from Eastern Europe. And
as we know the 1930s in France as in many places are a time of economic depression and they’re
a time of heightened xenophobia. They’re a type of France of a kind of cultural malaise and
sense of crisis that goes beyond economics or social problems. And in those circumstances you
have a dramatic rise in anti-immigrant sentiment, anti black sentiment and anti-Semitism
probably most prominently.
And at the same time, this is a moment where the response to the threat of fascism in France is
this great counter mobilization of the left between 1934 and 1936, culminating in the election of
the Front Populaire in 1936, and the head of that coalition government is Leon Blum who is a very proudly Jewish French politician, the head of the French Socialist Party and the first man to be elected.
What the French called Premier but effectively prime minister of France and he is on the one
hand only able to be elected prime minister in France because of the opportunities that are there
for Jews. At the same time, he is jeered as a Jew in the National Assembly shortly after his
election where one deputy’s Xavier Vallet will become a major official for economic policy
under the Vichy government says, “we need someone deeply rooted in French soil not a subtle
Talmudist,” which is a, you know, a terrible anti-Semitic screed against Blum. So it’s a moment, I mean, France has this contradictory history. It has these countervailing forces and then we see them really turned on their head. Whereas the promise of the republic and its inclusionary tendencies and the tradition of the French Revolution create a certain amount of protection for Jews through the 20s and 30s even in the face of intense anti-Semitism. That’s all wiped away with the fall of France in 1940 and the emergence of the Vichy government and a very systematic policy of anti-Semitism, which as we know very well now from historians, those policies began well before the demands of the German government. And the policies in the southern zone of France right where the Vichy government had a significant amount of control from 1940 to 1942.
They were really more rapidly anti-Jewish and intensely anti-Jewish and many of their policies
than the Germans in the occupied zone during those first two years of the war. So, that of course
is a, there’s a deep sense of betrayal for French Jews for all of the challenges of the 1930s. For
the longer history that included the Dreyfus Affair in the 1890s and the early 20th century Jews
felt very aligned with that revolutionary tradition, very aligned with republican democracy in
France, very much at home, right. There’s a saying in the early 20th century ‘like a Jew in France
to describe a situation of paradise for a Jew elsewhere in Europe’.
Gary: Some even called it the promised land.
Professor Katz: Right, There’s a claim about France has a new Jerusalem that’s already widespread in the late 19th century. And so for Jews who lose their property, who have their rights stripped away with the fall of France 1940 and the emergence of the Vichy government and who are not able, despite lobbying intensely, and in many cases talking about ways they’ve served the state historically and all these things to regain their rights. There is a deep deep sense that their world has been shattered and their faith in France has been shattered. And yet despite all that, after the liberation of France in 1944 to 1945, and the return of the Republic, most Jews appear to have their faith in France in some significant measure restored. Based on the strength of the resistance, based on the efforts of various resistance figures to try to stand up against the anti Jewish measures and based on their own desire for a return to normalcy. And so, in some ways what I think we can fairly describe as a kind of great love affair of a significant Jewish population with its home country in France in a sense resumes in 1945, not entirely as if nothing had happened. But, I think largely also based on the assumption that the vast majority of anti-Semitic measures had been orchestrated by an outside force, the Nazis, and a small cadre of people supporting them at Vichy. We now realize that that was not an accurate view of things. But I think it made it easier also. So so yes. So we have these tremendous ebbs and flows the first half of the 20th century in terms of Jews relationship to France and their sense of inclusion or exclusion.
Gary: So you talked about the French resistance and how the activity of the French Resistance helped restore faith in France for the Jews. But currently you are working on a project about Jews actually being involved in a lot of military engagements against Vichy France. Previously it was titled Freeing the Empire of the Jewish uprising that helped the Allies win the war. Can you tell us about this?
Yes, so that is my current project and it’s a project really based in Algeria. We’ll probably get a
chance to talk about my first book and how it led me toward an interest in French Algeria. But,
this is a story that’s remarkably little known.
It’s a story of a small group of several hundred people, mostly Jews and most of the non Jews are
probably anti Semite. They’re in many cases from the same kind of far right groups that I spoke a
few minutes ago about. But they have aligned interests. Those people want to resume the fight
against the Germans. And so, in the city of Algiers and in some other towns of Algeria various
groups begin organizing and they coalesce in the autumn of 1942 to help prepare the way for the
success of the American landing in Algiers. And they played a central role by taking over almost
all of the strategic locations in Algiers from the Vichy government on the night before the
Americans arrive. And they do that quite successfully. And there are almost no casualties as a
result of that when the allies come to enter Algiers, which is really the key target of the invasion
with Algiers. They have basically taken French Algeria and signaled that they’re going to be
taking French North Africa in a short time. So it’s a remarkable story and it’s a group of Jews
who are by and large students, small shop owners, doctors, lawyers, civil servants and people
who tend to be very very integrated in their sense of their Frenchness, but people who are also
mostly in social circles with principally other Jews. Often involved in Jewish organizations that
are combating anti-Semitism or working for better relations with Christians and Muslims.
People whose Jewishness is in some cases awakened by the events of 1940.
What’s crucial in the Algerian context unlike most people in mainland France is that in October
1940 with the Jewish statute there, all the Jews of Algeria who have had French citizenship and
then that is almost every Jew in Algeria had French citizenship for the preceding 70 years,
they all lose that citizenship with the stroke of a pen. And so that context really creates a
tremendous sense of betrayal for these Jews as well and for many people, a kind of political
awakening that leads them into this resistance group.
Gary: That is very fascinating and I wanted to ask one more question then about Jews in World War 2, specifically about the public’s image of Jews during this period. Because you seem to be proposing a whole new perspective on Jews that maybe people don’t have because generally speaking I feel like the public thinks when they think about Jews during World War 2 it’s mostly as victims or hiding. But here you have Jews taking an active role even taking over a major city. How do you want to change the public’s perspective then about Jews during this period? Or do you?
That’s a good question. So in some ways I think you’re correct in that that public image is very
prevalent. I’m not sure, in some ways what is required to change the public image, that is to say,
we now have a lot of scholarship about Jews as resisters. We have books with titles like Jews
who fought back. Right, we have this significant effort that scholars have undertaken already to
show that Jews were not simply passive victims in World War 2. So I’m, I don’t have enough of a sense of self-importance thinking my book will transform that image where others have not. This is a great story. It’s a story that also has a direct connection to American history because of
American landing and they collaborated with the Americans. The most distinctive facet of it is
the success of this effort. The most familiar case of Jewish resistance for most people is the
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. A valiant but tragic and arguably doomed from the start effort to resist
the Nazis and the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto. Fundamentally different in almost every way from this effort. And so I do want to try to recenter our understanding of Jewish resistance during World War Two by thinking comparatively about what made this effort successful versus the movements that we know better in mainland France and Eastern Europe and across Europe. But I’m not, I don’t think it’s unique insofar as Jews fighting back or participating and resistance. It happens to be a story of great success which perhaps will have a different impact on people’s
image. But I can’t say.
Gary: Well I wish you the best of luck in becoming huge and popular. Maybe you should contact
Quentin Tarantino and tell them this is Inglorious Bastards, but real. Maybe you can get that
Professor Katz: From your lips to God’s ears.
Gary: I know right. OK, so moving now beyond World War 2. So you’ve researched Jews in the postwar period in multiple contexts, those specifically you focused on the idea of secularization versus religion, most notably in the book Secularism in Question: Jews and Judaism in Modern Times which you co-editor with Ari Joskowicz. I hope I’m saying that right. Can you tell us about the place of Jews in France post-World War 2 and this question of secularization versus religiosity.
Professor Katz: Right, so let’s take a big step back on the secularism question and move the lens out from France for a moment because it’s a broader issue, right. That book is a result of a working group that I was part of at the University Pennsylvania the Katz Center for Judaic studies, now ten years ago, and the impetus for that working group was a major debate, a major rethinking of secularization as an inevitable narrative that had been very wide spread through the 80s and even into the 90s among many historians and social scientists and the rethinking of secularism for a more critical perspective. Rather than simply as a kind of neutral way of separating church and state and creating space for everyone which tends to be our conventional view of it. So there has been a major rethinking in significant part because of developments that we know about in our world in the case secularization. The Iranian Revolution 1979 was a big impetus for a lot of people.
September 11th is a more recent memory for many of us. But the rise of various religious groups
in many cases, radical religious groups and their success forced a rethinking of the secularization
narrative as it became called. And meanwhile secularism in places like France is regarded by
many people as having exclusionary components to it. As defining who can and can’t speak in
the public sphere and in what ways.
And so that more critical perspective has opened a lot of new paths in analyzing the place of
religion and what it means to call things secular in various contexts. So that had had very little to
say about Jews and Judaism. And Jewish studies had had very little engagement with those
conversations when our working group was coming. So that was the broad goal of that collection
that we put together was to bring together Jewish studies in the case of Judaism with those
conversations. The French case as I started to allude to a moment ago is a very interesting one
because laïcité as the French call it, this public secularism that is deeply embedded in
French culture and in French law since the 1905 separation law is a striking case of the challenge
of negotiating some place for religious groups in the public sphere in a country that has had a
notion about a neutral public sphere that actually goes back right to the French Revolution and
that the then present neutral self, if you will, the unencumbered self of the abstract individual
that’s at the heart of ideas of revolutionary citizenship and Republican citizenship, frequently
those ideals find themselves uncomfortable with what it means to bring religion into the public
sphere with what it means to bring another ethnic or national identity in the public sphere.
They historically had a very hard time with what they viewed as an affable biological differences
in the case of women. I dealt with some in that book and more in my book Jews and Muslims
was how have various groups tried to find ways to negotiate a place where they were both fully
French and in a sense French first in public and still able to also bring other identities and
allegiances into the public sphere in public conversations.
Gary: And it seems like at least to some extent that Jews have been successful in this regard and we can talk about more modern events because things have seemed to take a turn, but at least for now France has the third largest Jewish population of any country in the world behind only Israel and the United States. Why do you think France of all countries has become such a magnet for Jews?
Professor Katz: So, France has historically been a real magnet for Jews and we should note that despite contemporary challenges it retains this very large population. There are over 300 kosher eateries in the Paris region which makes it the city with the with the largest number of kosher restaurants outside of Israel. And there is a thriving community in many ways. Historically France was the first country to emancipate its Jews during the French Revolution 1790 in 1791.
There is certainly a history of, kind of, receding and rising levels of anti Jewish sentiment and
receding and rising levels of Jewish rights in France.
It’s not a straight line but it is a country that for many Jews after the French Revolution became
very strongly identified with a set of notions about tolerance and enlightenment and openness to
Jews. Opportunity for Jews that felt very distinctive and that has certain strong parallels with the
American context. And I think for many Jews they felt, particularly in the 19th century that the
values of the Hebrew Bible were the basis of the values of French Revolution and they really felt
their destiny as Jews tied up with the destiny of France and the early years of the state of Israel.
France was one of Israel’s strongest allies from 1948 1967. People forget that because what came
after was much more acrimonious at times but that I think felt like a continuation for many
French Jews of their sense of striking explication between Jewishness and Frenchness.
So there’s a long history there and in the 20th century there were five prime ministers of Jewish
descent in France. That’s five more than America has had Jewish presidents. Right.
So you know, there’s a strong sense, you know, in the 1950s ,1960s France was the only country
outside of Israel that did not have any quotas on Jewish immigration as hundreds of thousands of
Jews came from French Africa and settled in France.
So there’s a long history there where Jews have felt welcomed with significant almost unlimited
upward mobility in France. Many Jews have been successful economically.
Occasionally up to the level of extreme wealth but more commonly just successfully moving into
the French middle class. Many many immigrants within a generation. So I think there’s lots of
reasons why people have felt that France was a place that Jews could and would succeed.
Gary: So aside from this positive view in the past 10 years or so there hasn’t been a lot of complaints of a rising wave of anti-Semitism. And whether or not this happens to be the case I’ve read certain reports that the Jewish population in France could cut by half within the next 40 years or so. Do you want to tell us about these new challenges Jews face in France? And do you think that there will be an exodus from France?
Professor Katz: So really, what we’re looking at can be data to the fall of the year 2000, in terms of the major shift. Where you had in the course of a few months several hundred, seven or eight hundred reported anti-Semitic incidents. By far, the most since World War 2 in any concentrated period time and a sense of shock, further shock, and a sense of betrayal about the unwillingness of the French state for a couple of years to acknowledge France has a problem anti-Semitism and to articulate it that way. And a steady stream of, on average, six to seven hundred reported anti-Semitic incidents a year which ranged from graffiti, to anti-Semitic mailings, to several cases
particularly in the last seven or eight years of murder, right, of lethal anti-Semitic attacks.
And so that’s all real, that’s all there, and there’s a lot of reasons for it. I talk a little bit about
some of those reasons in the last chapter of my book on Jews and Muslims.
And so I think people are fearful and there has been an uptick in migration to Israel from France
by Jews not the kind of dramatic swelling that some people predicted and continue to predict.
Historians are notoriously bad prophets. I think the future is up in the air. I think the future is to be made. I think France’s challenges with Muslim -Jewish relations, and that’s where a majority of anti-Semitic attacks come in the last couple years is from Muslims, all of the lethal anti-Semitic attacks of the last 20 years have been carried out by people who in some way identify with Muslims or Arabness. That’s a small number of attacks. Just to be clear and it’s a small number of perpetrators and I left my book trying to show that Muslim Jewish relations have always been very complex historically and operating from the assumption that there’s nothing automatic about strife today and that that strife is limited to a small number of people but all that said how France deals with its significant Muslim population and the level of socioeconomic inequality and the in many cases discrimination that these people face, the challenges of where they live, all these issues that are very live issues in France.
I believe those issues, and how France addresses them will do much to shape the future of Jews
in France, because I think if France is successful at integrating more of its population from North
Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, than anti-Semitism will be a much smaller factor.
But these are hard issues and, you know, a big part of the challenge is that in pockets of that
cultural world from which it will come, Anti-Semitism is endemic. It’s automatic. It’s part of how
people were raised, just like we’re all raised with certain biases. And Mark Weitzman, this French journalist, just published this book called Hate about anti-Semitism in France. And he has some very challenging material there. The way that pockets of that world are so inflected with anti-Semitism. And it’s not easy to solve these challenges but I continue to think that, the inequalities that many of these people face do a lot to shape the ways in which they take on radical ideologies of all sorts. And so the degree to which France can deal more successive social problems, there’s not a lot to make us super optimistic in recent French history on this score, but it is going to do a lot to shape this question.
Gary: Absolutely. So now that it’s been brought up I do want to jump into your work on Jewish Muslim relations. I think one thing that most people would be shocked to hear is that Jewish Muslim relations were quite amicable up until the 1920s ,30s and perhaps even longer. Do you want to explain why this was?
Professor Katz: Well Jewish-Muslim relations have always been complex. And the fact is that the Jews and Muslims who came to France from North Africa beginning in the 20s and 30s and in the interwar period after WWI, you have a hundred to one hundred and forty thousand Muslims who come to France, who are living in France at a time, you have more people who come because they come as rotational laborers, that come as seasonal laborers right. So they usually don’t stay in France for more than a consecutive 18 months and then they send a lot of their income back. In many cases to their families it’s primarily men like 80 percent men. Often they have wives and children back in North Africa. So you have these people living alongside the first small wave of Jewish migrants from the same countries to France. And sometimes you have shared spaces of culture and music and cuisine and all the things that people knew from North Africa that they had in common which were quite considerable. I mean Jews and Muslims had lived together in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and the larger Mediterranean world in significant numbers for centuries. Well before the French conquest in Algeria in the 19th century and while they didn’t live on equal terms per say they often lived quite amicably and they influenced each other’s habits and customs and culture. And so they brought all that with them. But the other piece is of course that Jews and Muslims faced not identical, but often similar challenges, as minority ethno religious groups in France that struggled for full acceptance. That struggled to negotiate this very divide of secular public culture and their private ethnic and religious identities I spoke about earlier. And so in many cases there were groups of Jews and Muslims who were part of the same groups together. Like, International League Against Anti-Semitism in the 1930s and that even has remained the case up to the day that certain numbers of Jews and Muslims have worked together in the anti-racist movement in France periodically. So there also was a reason for a common political cause in many cases on the left. Of course, there were tensions but there are the tensions in France were largely around legal inequalities since Jews in Algeria had become French citizens in 1870 and Jews who came to France from practically anywhere had a relatively smooth path to naturalization since French citizenship law enables people to naturalize as immigrants from most countries within a certain period of years and their children who were born in France to all almost automatically receive citizenship whereas the Muslims who came from Algeria had French nationality but did not have French citizenship. And their way of getting French citizenship would have required them to renounce their Muslim status in a way and most viewed as a betrayal of their traditions. And so their path was much more difficult and it affected everything in terms of their legal rights and their educational background and all kinds of limited possibilities for them.
And so that was the source of significant tension. Really only much later, really after the
independence of Algeria, it’s only then that the principal source of political tension between
Muslims and Jews in France becomes the Israeli Arab and Israeli Palestinian conflicts.
Gary: So, I specifically wanted to jump into that because I like to consider myself a pretty learned person. However I’m not an expert on Jewish history and I think most people make the
assumption that Israel was a huge turning point in Muslim and Jewish relations. However, we
had contact each other before this interview and you told me that it was actually Algeria not
Israel that was a major turning point in Jewish Muslim relations in France. Can you explain why
Professor Katz: Well Algeria’s the catalyst for, sort of you know, a periodic set of tensions, right. I don’t think I would call it the turning point persay. You know there’s a set of riots in Constantine in 1934. Joshua Cole has a great book coming out on this topic in the very near future. I write about it some in my first book and these riots left twenty five Jews and three Muslims dead and they had major ripple effect in the French mainland and they were illustrative of all of the tensions the fact that Jews had greater legal rights, greater economic opportunity, had greater educational background in Algeria than Muslims with rare exception. The fact that meanwhile there was the beginning of a real native Muslim politics in Algeria in the interwar period. Partly because of visual not a law of 1919 which create a small cadre of but a significant one of Muslim men who could participate in local politics and really begun to mobilize in important ways. And also because of the beginnings of Algerian nationalism around a figure named Messali Hadj who had started this group actually in the mainland among workers who were coming these rotational laborers, who were becoming more politicized in the context of Paris’s radical political tradition and their experiences that they were having there. So all of that is bubbling up in this. This is by far the most significant moment of violence but it’s all bubbling up in the conflict over the future of Algeria. That becomes a live question. Jews in many cases are liberal, they’re committed to reform for Muslims, they would like to see that happen, Blum puts his name on failed Bill 36, which while a modest reform effort was also considered by many people a major one but at the same time they are by and large very wedded to the French presence in Algeria.
I mean they’ve had citizenship since 1870. That changed their whole education and cultural
trajectory even though many remained attached in certain ways to local Arab culture.
And so that’s very different than the experiences of Muslims who are becoming increasingly
skeptical that they can really ever be fully French and become integrated and gain citizenship as
various moments of promise evaporate and that tension becomes more acute in the aftermath of
World War Two as the move toward independence calls for independence and ultimately a
violent war for independence. As that march kind of gets underway in the late 40s and early 50s
The under pinning its attention only grow and so then you have the French Algerian War from an
1954 to 1962 which as we know is one of the central conflicts of French history writ large in the
20th century and one where, you know, Muslims had more than one position, and I talk about
that in my book, but by the war’s end most Muslims supported the call for independence, the FLN and Jews were much more conflicted and a certain number of Jews even went over to the die hards of Action League Française, not because they necessarily liked them or liked their methods but because they felt they were all stood between them and the departure of France and a very uncertain future if France left and the vast majority of Jews in Algeria came to France in 1962. And that was a moment of trauma for them.
So all of these events made Algeria really central to our story. And it’s not that the Israeli Arab or
Israeli Palestinian conflicts are not important they are important. But you’re right, the assumption
that suddenly 1948 when Israel is established is the watershed moment. It just doesn’t really hold
in this case even though what is important is that the Israeli Palestinian, Israeli air conflicts
become mapped on to the air during question, they become mapped onto social inequalities, they
become lived out by Jews and Muslims in French terms in the main land more and more and then
eventually take on a life of their own after 1967.
Gary: So I want to end by asking a bit about the French and Muslim Jewish relations today. How do you see that occurring in France? I particularly ask because right now France has the third largest population of Jews but it also has one of the largest Islamic populations in Europe.
So it appears to me that the positive or negative relationship of these two groups would have
quite a big spillover effect upon the world.
Professor Katz: That’s it, I think there is some silver effects. I think the capacity of Jews and Muslims to live together in France is in some ways a test for a lot of the world. That is to say, if France could get this right that would be a good model for a lot of Europe and beyond and the level of tension is typically viewed as almost an inevitable spillover from the Middle East conflict in a way that of course loses sight of a lot of complexities that we’ve been talking about here and a lot of particularities the French case. So yes I mean I think that France has a country that has prided itself on its ability to integrate diverse populations. It forgets periodically (FR 40:38 else) argument about the amnesia French immigration history that France forgets any generation that is already integrated all these people before. It hasn’t had a chance yet to forget because in the case of African Muslims because that integration has been less successful although it’s been more successful by many measuring sticks than people tend to realize in terms of the way that opportunity comes for second generation people and the way that on a whole series of metrics people’s cultural assumptions gravitate toward those of the driving population when you look at these polling statistics after that they’ve lived there for a generation. So yeah I mean it is a it is a question that concerns us all because we’re living in a world that is sharply divided in so many instances along ethnic religious lines and the wider conflict between Jews and Muslims that is centered in this small strip of land in the Middle East that much of which is regarded by many of us as Israel and at the same time contested, call by others Palestine that that conflict is one that has vast ramifications. And I think the real question that gets asked in France that really resonates for everyone is can people separate their allegiances, their ethnic
religious identifications, the time to that conflict from a life that is somewhere else where they
have many strands to their identity and their life that go beyond conflict. Right.
And a lot of people I spoke to in France put it in those terms and they said you know I tell my
Jewish friends or I tell my Muslim friends. Look, I’m more, you know, faithful to the Israeli side,
I’m Jewish, you’re more faithful to the Palestinian side, you’re a Muslim I don’t blame you, I hope
you don’t blame me. That doesn’t mean we can’t get along here. The slogan of, one of the slogans
of SOS Racisme, this anti-racist movement that was born in the mid 1980s and many of its
early activists were Jews and Muslims. One of the slogans was, “we cannot solve the Israeli
Palestinian conflict on the banks of the Seine,” meaning we shouldn’t be trying, and we should be focused on what our common causes are here. And that is not something that most people have been able to really do, is to have a strong sense of separation that says we share a life here. We have to have a sense of common destiny here and the things that divide us are somewhere else and we need to be able to compartmentalize them right.
And I think that is something that you know in a world that is constantly smaller because of the
ways that we’re interconnected across the globe, we have to all face that question of can we take
the things that are maybe opposing legginess and put them aside in the name of a common good.
So this conflict which centers on a small strip of land in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict that conflict has vast ramifications for the world. And in that sense France is a kind of testing ground for whether spillover as it’s often referred to from the Middle East can be contained can be set aside.
Gary: Well hopefully Paris will retain its 300 kosher shops. Thank you very much for joining us
Professor Katz: Thanks for having me.
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