Why we cannot forget Dreyfus. The chief actors in the drama have been on the political scene ever since but the dynamic takes on shape-shifting characteristics in defining new enemies and the necessity of an “other” as the basis of invidious comparison. Today, it is the pretext of the war on terror, the fears of Islamophobia and the still existent anti-Semites posing as patriots….
In Europe, Jews were a distinct community within the Christian environment for centuries.With Napoleon, a sea change began with the decline of religion and the emergence of a nascent liberal democracy, permitting Jews to integrate into the larger society, much to the near visionary displeasure of the consequences that the Orthodox Jews foresaw. The otherness was now seen as somatic differences instead of religious one; physical signs as marks of categorization and the whole mess of aesthetic markers weaving its way from anti-Judaism to anti-Semitism, the essence now of Jewishness to be found in the body, a less than favorable aesthetic envelope.
Although there is evidence that feature creatures were a significant factor in determining Jews before the end of the eighteenth century, such as the nose or the Jewish foot, a kind of link between the yid and the devil, the Jewish limp-diseased etc. ; but it took on a whole new dimension with the junk science of physical anthropology in the eighteenth-century of morphological, alleged oddities proved scientifically as genetic inferiority, all airbrushed as objective science. This was the background of the Dreyfus trial and it resurfaces today in a virulent anti-Arabism that posits the entire gamut of heinous stereotypes…..
And the conclusion of the Dreyfus Affair, with the main culprit offering some very ironic and ambiguous messages that reminds a bit of Heydrich appinted head of the SS in part, because he knew who all the Jews were, and where the big money was both visible and stashed…
(see link at end)…As for Esterhazy, he died in exile in London in 1923, trying to turn his role in the Dreyfus Affair into a racket. I learned the other day that there has been an Israeli play produced recently with some success, whose subject is Esterhazy in London. It is called in Hebrew “Ani lo Dreyfus,” “I am no Dreyfus.” That Esterhazy.
By the way, on the story of Esterhazy, the Shakespearean scoundrel as William James called him, there is no end of interesting material. For instance, let me add this. If in the years before the Dreyfus Affair you were a Jewish officer in the army who had been insulted by a professional anti-Semite, say Drumont, in the press, the thing to do was to challenge your insulter to a duel. Ah, but that was difficult. You had to find someone to assist you to serve as your second in a duel—not so easy, preferably a non-Jew to vouch for your honor.
Well, it turned out that there was a man who set up a concession; he could be hired out to serve as a second for Jewish officers whose honor had been doubted in the press, questioned in the press, attacked in the press. That guy, the man who had the concession to assist Jewish officers in defending their honor, was none other than Esterhazy, the future villain of the Affair. And, by the way, the man who would get you in touch with Esterhazy, if you were the Jewish officer— because how would you find him?—well, it was Zadoc Kahn, the Chief Rabbi of Paris, who said I can put you in touch with the man who will help you out in this embarrassing situation. So, just think that, as late as, shall we say, 1890 or so, if you were a Jewish officer whose honor had been attacked, the man who would help you defend your honor was Esterhazy, the future villain of the Affair.
So, as I say, he died in exile, Esterhazy, in 1923. Dreyfus, who had reenlisted in the army—which he had left because he was not being given credit for the years he served at Devil’s Island, he was not credited with those years in his advance, in his seniority within the army, so hethe army—but he reenlisted during World War I, and he fought at the battle of Verdun.
He eventually died in 1935, which is why Charles Dreyfus, the grandson, could have known him for eight years. He, by the way, Dreyfus, had a granddaughter who died at Auschwitz. The continuity, you see, between the Dreyfus Affair and the Holocaust seems in many ways clear. One of the great readers, by the way, of Edouard Drumont, the man of La Libre Parole and La France Juive, one of the great readers was the Viennese anti-Semite Lueger, the man whom Hitler called “the last, true German to serve the public in Austria.” So you go from Drumont to Lueger to Hitler, it’s a rather clear genealogy. When Charles Maurras, the man whose career was launched by arguing that Henry’s forgery was in fact heroic, when he was found guilty of collaborating with the enemy in World War II, his comment showed an admirable sense of history; he said, “this is the revenge of Dreyfus.”
In 1985, Jacques Lang, the French Minister of Culture, commissioned a statue of Dreyfus, but the army managed to prevent its installation at its intended site, the courtyard of the École Militaire, the scene of Dreyfus’s ceremonial humiliation. Three years later, it was discreetly installed and unveiled at an unobtrusive spot on the Boulevard Raspail on Paris’s Left Bank, where you can see it today. Thanks. Read More:http://sceti.library.upenn.edu/dreyfus/PDF/Mehlman_transcript.pdf
…So, today, what if we take anti-Semitism at its anthropological level, zeroing in on all Semites and not just Jews. We can see that today’s currents as another aspect of a long joint linking of Jew and Muslim, albeit numerically, the followers of Islam equal the Christian world and the construction called Judeo-Christian heritage is somewhat of an illegitimate marriage of convenience and could crumble although it is argued that America and Israel are joined at the hip which makes it even more complicated. Still, on a deeper level, “Semitism” was a concept that was invented initially to to refer to a language type and a sort of human being as part of a given culture which are Jews and the Hebrew speaking forefathers and mothers as well as Arabs. The old tradition of the Christian West of viewed Jews and Muslims as separate but yet having affinities of the same religious genre, in fact some believing the Jews had created Islam to foist it on the West as counterbalance to their hegemony…. the substitution of “Arab” for “Muslim” added a clear linguistic and racial dimension to the narrative similar to what the Jews passed through…