To Flee or Not to Flee: Is That the Question?

in International Journal of Public Theology
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This article examines the two deadly attacks in Paris on 7 and 9 January 2015 from an angle of interest in which they impinge upon Jews as Jews. Specifically, it homes in on a question that was triggered by the attacks: Is it time for the Jews of Europe to depart en masse? The facts alone cannot explain why the Paris attacks triggered this question. There is, in the first place, a larger empirical context. More fundamentally, there is a powerful narrative context that places the present and the future by reference to the Nazi Holocaust and ultimately the biblical story of the exodus. This stock narrative not only gives rise to the wrong question—to flee or not to flee—but makes it impossible to engage in ‘thinking in the world’: the kind of thinking that generates the right questions regarding the Jewish future.

To Flee or Not to Flee: Is That the Question?

in International Journal of Public Theology

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References

2

Angelique Chrisafis‘Born, raised and radicalised in France’The Guardian13 January 2015 6; Emma Graham-Harrison ‘French Jews in shock after deadly end to siege at kosher supermarket’ The Observer 11 January 2015 3.

5

Kim Willsher et al‘The bloody denouement’The Guardian10 January 2015 p.1. Hyper Cacher is a chain of kosher supermarkets in France. The name means ‘super kosher’.

7

Ian Traynor‘Jewish leaders call for Europe-wide legislation outlawing antisemitism’The Guardian25 January 2015 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/25/jewish-leaders-europe-legislation-outlawing-antisemitism [accessed 29 September 2015].

8

Benjamin Netanyahu 10 January 2015https://twitter.com/netanyahu/status/554035156474793984 [accessed 30 October 2015]. Similar calls were made by defence minister Moshe Ya’alon foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman (who also took part in the ‘unity rally’) and former finance minister Yair Lapid: see Peter Beaumont ‘Netanyahu: Israel will welcome European Jews with open arms’ The Guardian 11 January 2015 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/11/netanyahu-israel-european-jews-open-arms [accessed 30 October 2015].

10

James Bennet‘Editor’s Note: To stay or to go’The AtlanticApril 2015 p. 8.

11

Ben Hartman‘Two stabbing attacks in Ra’anana’The Jerusalem Post13 October 2015 http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Initial-report-Attempted-stabbing-attack-in-Raanana-423789 [accessed 18 October 2015].

12

Allison Kaplan Sommer‘Terror shakes new immigrants who came to Israel to flee anti-Semitism’Haaretz13 October 2015 http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.680193?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook [accessed 18 October 2015].

19

Jeffrey Goldberg‘Is It time for the Jews to Leave Europe?’The AtlanticApril 2015 p. 64. At the end of the article Goldberg answers his own question this way: ‘I am predisposed to believe that there is no great future for the Jews in Europe because evidence to support this belief is accumulating so quickly’ (Ibid.75). Logically this is a puzzling statement: a belief you are predisposed to have precedes the evidence that might support it and is not explained by that evidence. The evidence he presents suggests that ‘predisposed to believe’ is an accurate description of the frame of mind in which he conducted his research. For two trenchant critiques of Goldberg’s article see: Antony Lerman ‘European Jews don’t need Jeffrey Goldberg’s provocations’ Al Jazeera America 25 March 2015 http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/3/european-jews-dont-need-jeffrey-goldbergs-provocations.html [accessed 30 October 2015] and Diana Pinto ‘I’m a European Jew—and No I’m Not Leaving’ New Republic 26 March 2015 http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121388/why-jews-arent-leaving-europe-contra-atlantics-jeffrey-goldberg [accessed 30 October 2015].

29

Compare Jacqueline RoseThe Question of Zion (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press2005) chapter 1.

30

HertzbergThe Zionist Idea p. 618 (emphasis in the original).

32

Ludwig WittgensteinPhilosophical Investigations (Oxford: Basil Blackwell1958) p. 48 par. 115.

33

Ibid. Preface p. vii.

34

Ibid. p. 48 par. 114.

35

See for example Maud S. MandelMuslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press2014) Ethan B. Katz The Burdens of Brotherhood: Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France (Boston: Harvard University Press forthcoming) and Paul A. Silverstein ‘The context of antisemitism and Islamophobia in France’ Patterns of Prejudice 42:1 (February 2008) 1–26. See also Natasha Lehrer ‘The threat to France’s Jews’ The Guardian 15 January 2015 pp. 33–35.

36

WittgensteinPhilosophical Investigations p. 46 par. 107.

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