Paul Berman, one of the best essayists out there, writes about the great Alain Finkielkraut, anti-Semitism, France, the Gilets Jaunes and the latter’s recent attack on Finkielkraut. And much, much more.
The sidewalk attack ought to remind us, in short, that Zola’s phrase (in his immortal J’accuse) was “imbecile anti-Semitism,” and not something adjective-free. Imbecility undergirds the phenomenon. If the attack on Finkielkraut revealed anything new, it was only by showing that imbecilities of different provenances can blend together—a loathing of the Jews compatible with the leftist tone of Yellow Vest economic protest; a loathing in the populist mode, with its rhetoric of “the people” against the Jews; and, as it happens, a touch of Islamist loathing, to boot. The most vituperative of the Yellow Vests shouting at Finkielkraut turned out to be an Islamist, known to the French police. The Yellow Vests on the sidewalk must have found the combination very exciting.