Eve Wolf’s current production of “The Dreyfus Affair” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music does not mirror the current political situation in France — or the one in our country, either “(‘Dreyfus Affair’ In The Age Of Le Pen,” April 28).
At a discussion about Jewish life in France at the French Consulate here, Roger Cukierman, president of CRIF (French Jewish Organizations), praised the French government for its sincere support and protection, and in his latest book, “The Genius of Judaism,” Bernard-Henri Levy emphasizes the Jewish foundations of French culture and the strength of the French Jewish community today.
Ted Merwin’s question, “Has France ever put the Dreyfus Affair behind it?” must be answered affirmatively for many reasons.
There is no longer a powerful anti-Semitic literati that once included some of France’s most capable, popular and creative writers. There are no longer brown-shirted mobs, no deputies or senators on wholly anti-Semitic tickets representing anti-Semitic political parties. French Jews are no longer marginal figures — psychologically, legally, economically or socially — who must seek to convert to assimilate to the “pure French” society. Finally, there are laws against Holocaust denial and we have the State of Israel.
Ironically, some French Jews find Le Pen an attractive candidate because of her outspoken positions on the large Muslim population that has been the unique source of anti-Semitic violence in today’s France. That, and the alliance of the extreme Left and Le Pen’s National Front may swing the vote her way as did Bernie Sanders’ supporters for Trump after the primaries.
Merwin’s citation of a decreasing exodus of French Jews is comforting for those of us who believe that Jews (and non-Jews) everywhere should continue to visit and support the French cultural patrimony, which owes such an important debt to French Jews since Rashi and the Middle Ages.