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French Pamphlet to Be Published Stateside

‘Indignez-Vous!’ calls for Resistance-like action, has been accused of anti-Semitism

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Stéphane Hessel at a pro-Palestinian rally. His hat is an homage to the French Revolution.(Charles Platiau/Reuters/NYT)

French Resistance hero Stéphane Hessel’s pamphlet Indignez-Vous!, which despite its brevity and questionable literary merit has sold more than three million (!) copies in Europe since October, will be published in America in September as Time for Outrage. The book has been criticized for its treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with some accusing Hessel of anti-Semitism. The 93-year-old denies it; additionally, like practically every other French intellectual, he is of Jewish descent (albeit only on his father’s side—in fact, his parents and a French man formed the love triangle that inspired the Truffaut film Jules and Jim).

The pamphlet argues that today’s French should cast off their indifference and “get angry!” in the manner of résistants such as himself, a comrade of De Gaulle’s in London who parachuted into France and was captured and sent to Buchenwald. “When something outrages you, as Nazism did me, that is when you become a militant, strong and engaged,” the roughly 4,000-word pamphlet proclaims. “You join the movement of history, and the great current of history continues to flow only thanks to each and every one of us.” And what is Hessel most angry about? “Today, my primary indignation concerns Palestine, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank.”

In The New Republic, Tablet Magazine books critic Adam Kirsch questioned the utility of Resistance-era anger in a time of (mostly) functional politics. Unquestionably a hero and doubtfully intending any harm, Hessel strikes me as a French version of Howard Beale, the Network anchor who instructs us to shout, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!” Of course, Beale is a crank, a madman suffering a nervous breakdown. The parody in Paddy Chayefsky’s script isn’t found in the fact that Beale is right, but rather in the fact that somebody so profoundly wrong, albeit in a harmless way, is received as being right because he satisfies certain emotional needs; the film’s malicious villains have use for the anger he inspires because it distracts people from real problems. Beale, and Beale-like anger, is the tool of the true bad guys.

In the spring, in France, another Hessel pamphlet was released, this a collection of interviews titled Engagez-Vous!—“get involved!” That sounds more like it, anyway.

Book by French Resistance Here to Be Published in U.S. [Arts Beat]
A Resistance Hero Fires Up the French [NYT]
Related: The Trouble With Anger [TNR]
Earlier: So, You’re a ‘French Intellectual,’ Eh?

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I wish a peace deal had been signed in 2000, or 2006, or was it 2008 when Olmert sweetened the Barak offer? And I hope Israelis will dump Netanyahu, and elect a government that realizes that there is no choice in the matter, and that Israel must relinquish the territories and that’s its survival depends on it.

But I don’t think there is anything more maddening than rhetoric that glosses over the fact that the Palestinians turned down offers of independence. And that if it were merely better terms they were hoping for, they might have negotiated and counter-offered, which they didn’t.

I think one of reasons for the persistence of this disregard for history must be that it doesn’t seem possible or credible. How could a people who have made a greater clamor for their independence than any other in recent history have turned down offers that would have given them nearly everything that they purport to long for?

And yet, there it is. They did. They thwarted the efforts, of Israel and the U.S. in particular, though with assistance from a host of other nations, to resolve the conflict once and for all, and instead sent it spinning out of control for another decade at least, at cost to Israel and to themselves. They just plain shut the door.

I hope they get their state, and soon, but until they start acknowledging and dealing with the tendencies toward conflict in their society, they’ll have bigger problems than Israel to deal with.

And, by the way, the man in the photo looks like a perfectly reasonable person.

Not Michael says:

“Today, my primary indignation concerns Palestine, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank.”

That’s what he’s most angry about? Seriously? I don’t understand how millions of Frenchman can buy into that.

If they want to be angry about something, how about their decaying suburbs, millions of unassimilable immigrants, persistent latent racism in French society, an under-funded welfare state, France’s over-reliance on nuclear energy, France’s massively overcrowded universities, the increasing irrelevance of the French language in the world marketplace, or the willful tolerance of sexism masquerading as healthy male ego? I’d say there are plenty of other things for Frenchmen to be upset about, and they are all closer to home.

This guy hasn’t picked up Le Monde since 1973. In fact, he still thinks it’s 1973, and everyone is afraid of telling him otherwise.

Incidentally, Not Michael, I think you’re dead on, only if you’re feeling impotent when it comes to addressing the problems you enumerated, you can always take your frustration out on Israel.

Barry says:

People should be angry.

People should be angry about the satanic hijra (Muslonazi imperialist immigration) to the West.
People should be angry that the subhuman American Muslim community seeks to impose the Shariah.
People should be angry that satanic beasts like Rev. Jeremiah Wright are given free reign to spew their racist and wickedness.

So get angry about Gaza. Encourage the Israelis to eradicate the Islamic cancer. Encourage the Jewish victims living in Judea and Samaria

Barry says:

People should be angry.

People should be angry about the satanic hijra (Muslonazi imperialist immigration) to the West.
People should be angry that the subhuman American Muslim community seeks to impose the Shariah.
People should be angry that satanic beasts like Rev. Jeremiah Wright are given free reign to spew their racist and wickedness.

So get angry about Gaza. Encourage the Israelis to eradicate the Islamic cancer. Encourage the Jewish victims living in Judea and Samaria to treat their subhuman Muslim neighbors the same way Kuffar are treated in Deerborn and Saudi Arabia.

Reply to fw:

Since you’ve so cogently explained why the stumbling block to an agreement is the Palestinians’ lack of desire to reach of closure for the conflict, why do you think “dumping Netanyahu” will do anyone any good?

Caro says:

I still don’t get why someone who is critical about how Israel is dealing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, as some argue, antisemitist. Hessel has suffered the Holocaust, he lost most of his family..do you still believe he can be antisemitist??
And one more thing: the expression “albeit only on his father’s side” sound offensive to me. It still shocks me when non-orthodox circles (like Tablet magazine) attach to the matrilineal descent and dismesses patrilineality. even when it’s not about religion. Of course the nazis never thought “this person is of Jewish descent, albeit only on his father’side”.

babawawa says:

Caro, I understand your frustration, but we Jews don’t define ourselves by other people’s criteria in murdering us. Jewish law says the your Jewish descent comes from your mother and your tribal lineage from your father. It’s frustrating that so many lefties, who see women as second class in Judaism, miss the obvious real power Jewish women wield. What could be more powerful than determining who is a Jew? Only a fool would trade that to read the Torah from the bimah.

This schmuck may have suffered the Holocaust, but so did many, many non-Jews, of which he is one. I hate to comment on his book, as I have not read it. But if he’s angry about Gaza, i.e., Israel, then he’s a complete idiot, and dresses like one too.

Caro says:

Babawawa,

According to orthodox standards, it’s G-d who determines who is a Jew, not Jewish women. I love being Jewish, I love the fact that my children are Jewish (not just because their mother is, but because they are raised as such) and, also, I feel very blessed to be able to read the Torah from the bimah. I don’t think there’s nothing to “trade”, it’s perfectly possible to do all this.

I respect the branches of Judaism that attach to matrilineality, but I still find it very difficult to tell someone whose paternal family is Jewish, who feels Jewish, who’s been sent to a nazi camp for being part of a Jewish family that the’re are not Jewish, “just like so many non Jews who suffered during the Holocaust”. Of course I know an orthodox rabbi would tell someone who lost his entire family in a nazi camp that they’re now Jewish and that some other person who’s maternal great-gradn mother, who was born Jewish but converted 100 years ago to Christianity is. I respect that, but I doesn’t sound reasonable to me, as to many many other Jews (orthodox and non orthodox).

Maybe it would be good for you to read the book, before saying this person is a “complete stupid” for being angry about killings in Gaza.

Eig, I don’t think Israel has a choice, but to go forward an take another stab at an agreement. I’m not necessarily sanguine about the prospects of it actually working, but it is what the U.S. wants, and I believe in the Pax Americana. Israel depends heavily on the U.S., too heavily frankly, and if it wants to maintain that relationship, it needs to comply with U.S. wishes, generally if not to the letter. If the Palestinians renege or balk, then the hardline view will be vindicated again. But Israel is too isolated right now and cannot afford bucking the U.S. on this.

Beatrix says:

I don’t see anywhere in the article where this man identifies as a Jew, but only as being of partial Jewish descent.

benj says:

By the way Hessel was never deported as a Jew but as a resistant and he never saw himself as a Jew until a few years ago to criticize Israel (and then said again he did not see himself as a Jew and never did).

David Sitbon says:

By the way you fail to mention that this guy based his “GAZA indignation” almost exclusively on the grounds of the Goldtsone report but he did not say a word after Goldstone article retracting the way the report was handled.

This is blatantly banal and the mere success of this thin article publised as a book is sign of how bad France intellectuals can perform.

Some explain the success by the fact that the book was published here in France mid-december and at a price (3 euro/5 USD) which made it the best cheap-last-minute- chritsmas-gift you could dream of.

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French Pamphlet to Be Published Stateside

‘Indignez-Vous!’ calls for Resistance-like action, has been accused of anti-Semitism

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