Sunday, 01 December 2019 14:54

FRANCE – Magazine vilifies Jewish historian for his physical appearance and his “distance from French identity”

An article in the magazine Valeurs Actuelles attacks the Jewish French historian Benjamin Stora, using age-old antisemitic tropes of the greedy and ambitious Court Jew. This is France’s media monitoring highlight for November.

This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of November, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

France MMH novDate of publication: 31 October 2019 

Media Outlet: Valeurs Actuelles, far-right magazine

Headline: "An official historian”

Author: Bruno Larebière


Description of the antisemitic content: In the October special edition of Valeurs Actuelles, dedicated to “French Algeria”, an article attacks the Jewish French historian Benjamin Stora using antisemitic tropes. Born in Algeria, Benjamin Stora is a professor of Maghreb History at the Institute of Oriental Civilizations and Languages (INALCO) in Paris and at Paris 13 University. He is an expert in the history of French colonialism and decolonisation wars, as well as the Maghreb immigration to Europe. The article however, does not criticise him about his academic work, nor does it refer to his publications or the topics of his research. Instead, it attacks him for his Jewish identity ("distanced [relationship] with the French identity"), his physical appearance ("This man did not just get fat, he has been swelling […] inflated, at the risk to explode, of that nasty fat” ), and his "social status" ("[his] vanity which has grown in parallel with his social status").  

Myth debunked: Benjamin Stora himself published a blog post detailing why the Valeurs Actuelles article is antisemitic. "It is a charge against the intellectuals, who work in academia, those who produce a "System" and official stories. Again, this hatred against Jewish intellectuals is an old recipe”, says the historian. The way Benjamin Stora is described draws from the antisemitic trope of the greedy and ambitious Court Jew. To make this clear, Stora compared this article to what was published in the far-right media during the Dreyfus and Damascus affairs: the obsession about his weight implies the idea of an enrichment, which was also present in antisemitic articles about  Bernard Lazarre, Léon Blum, and  Adolphe Crémieux. The far-right has often attacked Stora on his anti-colonial positions, “but here there’s a qualitative leap, with this insistence on my body,” he said to Le Monde: “It is a classic caricature of the capitalist Jew with a big cigar. I am described as the one who had a career in the dark, who cannot understand French identity.” A petition signed by hundreds of intellectuals has denounced the antisemitic nature of the article and expressed support to the historian.  

More to read: 

Can a Jew Love France?

125 Years Later, The Dreyfus Affair Remains Unfortunately Relevant

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