A Paris Museum and France’s Short-Lived Sephardi Aristocracy

Moïse de Camondo, a member of a wealthy clan of Sephardi merchants originating in Istanbul, settled in Paris in the 1870s with other members of his family. After his death in 1935, his home—which he filled with fashionable 18th-century antiques—became a museum that still operates today as an unintended monument to a very particular slice of French-Jewish history. Christina Sztajnkrycer writes:

The [neighborhood where the Comondos settled, known as the] plaine Monceau, is a more recent part of Paris, annexed to the city in 1860. . . . Before annexation, Emile and Isaac Pereire, having “made their fortunes as financiers, railroad-builders, and property magnates, creating colossal developments of hotels and department stores,” purchased the plaine Monceau with the park in the center and started to develop the surrounding area. These two Sephardi brothers from Bordeaux, also creators of the upscale neighborhood surrounding the Opéra Garnier and the Hôtel de la Paix in Paris, dreamed of a luxurious future for this soon-to-be elite neighborhood. . . .

[T]he Pereire brothers were not just savvy investors with a taste for luxury, they also knew how to attract and convince the wealthiest Jews of France, Europe, and the Mediterranean basin to come live in the plaine Monceau along with many other members of Parisian high society. The outcome of the Pereires’ vision was “an unprecedented mixture of nobility of the ancien régime and empire, Jewish aristocracy, high-society Protestants, [and] members of the rich industrial and financial bourgeoisie.”

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Read more at Stroum Center for Jewish Studies

More about: French Jewry, History & Ideas, Museums, Paris, Sephardim

Palestinian Acceptance of Israel as the Jewish State Must Be a Prerequisite to Further Negotiations

Oct. 19 2018

In 1993, in the early days of the Oslo peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat accepted the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.” But neither it nor its heir, the Palestinians Authority, has ever accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Robert Barnidge explains why this distinction matters:

A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the [UN] General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab state, the Jewish state, and the city of Jerusalem.”

Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution—in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council, [the precursor to the Israeli government], also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights—it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.

The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. [Instead], the PLO [has been] playing a double game. . . . It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a people, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national liberation movement that it is.

The U.S. government, Barnidge concludes, “should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state” and refuse to “press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.”

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Peace Process, PLO, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat