French Jewry’s Enthusiastic But Discreet Role in Resisting the Nazis

A disproportionately large number of French Jews took part in the fight against the German and Vichy authorities during World War II. While many did so out of a conviction that they were fighting for France’s true values, writes Reneé Poznanski, they met suspicion on the part of many of their fellow resisters:

One could hardly be surprised to find a large majority of Jews on the side of those who defended the Third Republic and opposed the new authoritarian government that emerged following the [fall of France in 1940], a government that rejected republican values. If the Resistance was the true France, the Jews, otherwise rejected by the France of Vichy, could integrate themselves in that true France as in the past. . . .

In spite of all this, the massive presence of Jews in the Resistance remained extremely discrete. Raymond Aron was criticized after the war for having given minimal coverage to the fate of the Jews in La France Libre, the magazine for which he was responsible in London. He explained this by saying that he was acting as a Frenchman and added that he had probably spoken little about it precisely because he was Jewish: as a Jew he did not want to feed adverse propaganda. But in his writing he also evokes a tacit “convention of silence” that reigned in London and discouraged explicit discussion of the persecution of Jews. Jewish résistants feared that the Resistance might be seen as essentially Jewish and preferred to rest in the shadows.

This declared desire for integration and an avoidance of specific objectives was also fed by the existence of a widespread xenophobia mixed with a more or less latent anti-Semitism throughout the French population. The idea that there was a “Jewish problem” was universally accepted in France, even within the Resistance itself. A certain number of movements founded . . . to struggle against the German occupation took some time to separate themselves from Marshal Pétain, whose reforms they at least partly supported. This climate also explains the discretion with which Jewish résistants merged with the French Resistance in general, sometimes even muffling personal tragedies—it was thus that [the Jewish Resistance leader] Raymond Aubrac said nothing about the arrest and deportation of his father. Added to this was the desire to prove, in the face of anti-Semitic stereotypes, that Jews were not political manipulators but rather active participants in combat.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, France, French Jewry, History & Ideas, Resistance, World War II


As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas