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Polanski Making Dreyfus Movie, Hint Hint

Accused rapist, a Jew, decries ‘age-old witch hunt of a minority group’

Marc Tracy
May 10, 2012
Roman Polanski in Paris in March, wearing a ridiculous jacket.(Jean-Phillipe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images)
Roman Polanski in Paris in March, wearing a ridiculous jacket.(Jean-Phillipe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images)

Roman Polanski, the director of many classics (most notably Chinatown) and a Polish-born Holocaust survivor, announced that his latest project is a movie based on l’affaire Dreyfus. What ever could he have in mind?

Polanski is a credibly accused rapist who in 1977 pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor following allegations that he drugged a 13-year-old and had non-consensual oral, anal, and vaginal sex with her in Los Angeles (at Jack Nicholson’s house, it so happens). He is now arguably a fugitive from justice, having fled the United States for Europe. A couple years ago, the Swiss briefly placed him under house arrest before failing to extradite him. At the time, Polanski benefited from the support of American directors like Woody Allen, David Lynch, and Martin Scorsese, as well as Bernard-Henri Lévy, who provided the prototype of a defense: “It is shameful to throw a 76-year-old man into prison for unlawful sex committed 32 years ago.” Some, including Gore Vidal, have gone explicitly to the place BHL and others have only implicitly traveled, and argued, ludicrously, that that Polanski is persecuted in part because he is a Jew.

Another person who seems to believe that Polanski is a victim of anti-Semitism is Polanski. He described the Dreyfus story as “the age-old spectacle of the witch hunt of a minority group, security paranoia, secret military tribunals, out-of-control intelligence agencies, governmental cover-ups, and a rabid press.” Do you, like, get it?

A quick refresher: Dreyfus was deliberately persecuted by anti-Semites who created forgeries to try to blame him for a crime they knew he did not commit, because he was Jewish; he was convicted of this crime because of anti-Semitism in the French legal system. By contrast, none of this is true of Polanski. (True, Marine Le Pen was among those who said he should be extradited, but even a blind squirrel gets an occasional acorn.)

We went through this last year when BHL compared another likely rapist who happened also to be a Jew, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, to Dreyfus. For the future, here is a list of other people who aren’t Dreyfus:

• Bernard Madoff.

• Saul Lepke.

• Heidi Fleiss.

• David Berkowitz.

• Pretty much every other Jewish criminal.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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