From the Alfred Dreyfus Case to the Sara Halimi Case
From the Alfred Dreyfus Case to the Sara Halimi Case

Article by Pierre Lurçat, translated by Abraham Chicheportiche

Much has already been said about the Sarah Halimi case, and most of it has probably not yet been said. Beyond the injustice and all that it implies that leads one to worry about the future of France, there is the crucial question of the future of the Jews in that country. The appeal launched by Theodor Herzl, in the aftermath of Captain Dreyfus' degradation, remains of topical relevance.

Contrary to the promise made by French President Emmanuel Macron, on July 16, 2017, during the Vel d'Hiv commemorative ceremony, to “make all the clarity” on the Halimi affair - everything seems to be done to stifle a reality, well even more sinister than one could imagine then.

As revealed by the victim's brother, Mr. William Attal, during a demonstration organized recently in Paris, the police were not only present at the bottom of the building, but also, apparently, behind the very door of Mrs. Halimi's apartment, without intervening, during the interminable forty minutes that it took to perpetrate the assassination of Sarah Halimi!

In these circumstances, the decision of the Paris Court of Appeal to conclude that the murderer is not criminally responsible seems primarily intended to prevent all the light from being shed on the precise circumstances of the murder and the breaches of police procedure and justice, before, during and after the crime. In other words, it sounds like an out and out state lie.

What lesson is in this for the Jews of France?

The main thing is probably not there. For the Jews of France, who live as best they can, from one antisemitic attack to another, the main lesson of this new affair still remains to be learned.

This lesson had, however, already been stated, over a hundred and twenty years ago, by a Jewish journalist with the famous name, then correspondent in Paris of a large Austrian daily - Theodor Herzl. Contrary to tenacious legend, Herzl did not "discover" Zionism by witnessing the degradation of Captain Dreyfus at the Place des Invalides.

He had already started studying the Jewish question long before the start of the case.

What Herzl discovered on this occasion was the inevitability of the Zionist solution.

While his interlocutors - members of the Jewish establishment at the time - still harbored illusions and believed that Zionism was, at best, a solution for Jews in Russia and Central Europe, but not for them, and in the worst case, outright madness, Herzl had acquired the certainty that the emancipation and integration of the Jews in Western societies were doomed to failure.

With almost prophetic foreknowledge, the "Visionary of the State" also glimpsed the catastrophe that would engulf two-thirds of European Judaism, half a century later. It was moved by this prophetic vision and by the energy of despair (the famous “Judennot” - the Jewish suffering he felt in his own flesh), that Theodor Herzl devoted his whole life and sacrificed his career, his health and even his family life to the cause of the Jewish people.

"If you want it, it will not be a dream" he proclaimed, giving the date of birth of the Jewish state, almost to the day ...

The denial of reality of the leaders of French Judaism

Why does Herzl’s lesson from the Dreyfus Affair matter to us today?

Is Zionism only a matter of the past? T

The new affair which is currently shaking up Judaism in France reminds us that this is not the case. The blatant injustice committed against the victim, Sarah Halimi, towards her relatives and the whole of the Jewish community in France is a painful reminder of the reality, which most of the leaders of this community have tried to hide for years.

The solitary state of the Jews of France is much worse today than at the time of Captain Dreyfus. They are almost the only ones to protest and demonstrate today, while France was then equally divided between Dreyfusards and Antidreyfusards.

This is explained by the fact that the Jews have been progressively excluded from the status of victims, while their murderers -[Muslim migrants] - have been relegated to the status of victims of "exclusion".

As a result, it is likely that no review trial will remedy the unfair judgment of the Court of Appeal. No Zola will rise to denounce anti-Semitism in the columns of a major French daily.

Herzl's irrevocable diagnosis, in the aftermath of Captain Dreyfus' degradation, therefore remains extremely topical, while the Jews of France are still divided between denial and disillusionment. The future is no less bleak today than it was then. The only difference, obviously immense, is that the Zionist dream has come true.

This is why it is high time that the community and spiritual leaders of French Judaism finally recognize, with one hundred and twenty years of delay, what a Viennese Jewish journalist understood then and which is even more true today. As the directors of French Jewish schools said lucidly and courageously recently, "our place is no longer in France". Let us hope that the leaders of Jewish institutions and the rabbis of France also open their eyes and join this urgent appeal, to encourage aliyah, the only solution to the plight of the Jews of France.

This article was written in French by Pierre Lurçat. Pierre Lurçat, born in Princeton in 1967, graduate of ESSEC, is a lawyer and author of several books, including two essays on radical Islam, The Saber and the Koran and For Allah until death (Editions du Rocher) . He translated the autobiography of Zeev Jabotinsky into French. His latest book, Israel, the unfinished dream, was recently published by Paris / Max Chaleil editions.