Antisemitism in France is focus of Yale conference

The recently inaugurated Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism will host an international conference on Friday, Oct. 5, focusing on antisemitism as it is distinctly manifested in France.

The program — which will gather eminent scholars from across the United States, Europe, and Israel — will take place at the Whitney Humanities Center (WHC), 53 Wall St., 9 a.m.–4:45 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

More information about this conference, titled “Antisemitism in France Past, Present, Future,” is available on the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism website.

Professor Maurice Samuels, director of the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism, talks about the Oct. 5 conference.

While France currently has the third-largest Jewish population in the world (after Israel and New York) and Jewish writers, intellectuals, political figures, and artists have made an enduring imprint on French culture, the nation’s history is also punctuated by some of the most virulent expressions of Jewish hatred in modern times, note the conference organizers. These include the infamous Dreyfus affair, the Vichy government’s active role in the Holocaust, and, as recently as this spring, the murder of three small children and their teacher in Toulouse. Organizers of this conference point to that terrorist attack by an Islamic radical as “another shocking indication that antisemitism is again on the rise.”

In four sessions led by Yale faculty members, authorities on particular aspects of the subject will present papers analyzing the historical context of exclusion and scapegoating of Jews in France as well as the evolution of a “new antisemitism,” seemingly fueled by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Among the distinguished scholars who will be speaking at the event are Robert Wistrich, professor of Modern European History at Hebrew University and director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism in Israel; Henry Rousso, author of a seminal study of Vichy in World War II and director of research at CNRS, the French National Scientific Research Center; and Pierre Birnbaum, professor emeritus of the Sorbonne and a widely recognized authority on the political history of Jews in France.

On Thursday, Oct. 4, the eve of the conference, Wistrich will deliver a talk titled  “Ambivalence or Betrayal? Israel, the Jews, and the Left.” Free and open to the public, the talk will take place at WHC, at 5 p.m.