Why Are Emmanuel Macron and Eric Zemmour Fighting Over the Dreyfus Affair in 2022?

Recent controversies in the French media suggest that wounds opened by the infamous trial over a century ago have yet to heal.

French President Emmanuel Macron visits the Dreyfus Museum near Paris on October 26, 2021. LUDOVIC MARIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

French President Emmanuel Macron visits the Dreyfus Museum near Paris on October 26, 2021. LUDOVIC MARIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Observation
Jan. 31 2022
About the author

David Toledano is a French high school history and geography teacher. He is involved in national associations for quality education, the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the fight against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

On October 28 of last year, the French president Emmanuel Macron spoke at a ceremony marking the opening of his country’s new Dreyfus Museum. In his speech, he adhered to the classic French republican “love of language and . . . taste for truth and justice,” and made clear that he sees the museum as the embodiment of those ideals. His remarks and his overall investment of political capital in the event demonstrate the importance he attaches to the museum, and to the history it attempts to convey. And he’s not alone: the Dreyfus Affair is considered one of the founding moments of the French Republic. Macron’s speech at the opening of the museum, and some recent controversies in the French media, suggest that it is a wound that has not entirely healed.

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