Reportage / 19 February 2019

February 19th 2019

Are the Nazis back in Paris?

On the screen of my computer previous Sunday morning, a yellow vest, face and eyes distorted by hatred, utters anti-Semitic insults of extreme violence, extreme brutality; I sobbed, Nazis are back to hunt the Jews, we are again in danger of death. This yellowvest was not just addressing Alain Finkielkraut, he was addressing me, my family, the entire Jewish community of France. And the French government, instead of deciding that very Saturday evening, on a crisis meeting and immediate measures, our government contented itself yet again, once more, as usual, with saying that it severely condemned this call to hunt down Jews, those pariahs who usurp the title of French citizen.

Has anyone in the government askedhimself these very simple questions: if I were Jewish, how would I have reacted? If I were Jewish, what would have been my feelings? What memories would this hatred have brought back? It seems to me today that the most democratic officials, the most sensitive among them, has not, viscerally, experienced what continues to tear us apart: this denial of our citizenship. Otherwise, in the urgency of the moment, this minister would have convened all the members of his cabinet.

Previous Sunday morning, in the face of these images that take us back to Berlin and Vichy, I told myself it was still dangerous, and sometimes deadly, even today, 70 years after the mass roundup on the Vel D 'hiv, to be a French Jew. To have a French passport in one’s pocket does not protect us from the French Nazis.

For a few hours I had the desperate desire to go the next day to give back the French passport which I had been so proud to obtain sixty years ago, and which perhaps is no longer intended for me. I even thought about the stateless passport, the invention of Albert Cohen who knew too well the history of anti-Semitism. I asked myself if we should not, all Jews at the same time, go to hand over our passports to the mayor of our district. And to take it back only when measures, laws, and regulations will protect us to the same degree as every citizen in danger.

Translated from the French by Diane Joy Charney


Jacqueline Raoul Duval

born Lily Khayat in Tunisia, was first professor of history and geography. Literary director for years in Paris, she wrote as a ghost-writer for others until the day she decided to write for herself. "Kafka, l’éternel fiancé"(Flammarion) has been translated in eleven countries. Her last one « La nuit de Noces »( L’Age d’Homme) is quite autobiographical.