måndag 21 maj 2018

1968. Klippt ur ett samtal mellan Daniel Cohn-Bendit och Claus Leggewie

Foto: Astrid Nydahl
1968: Power to the Imagination. Klippt från ett samtal mellan Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Claus Leggewie i The New York Review of Books nummer 8/2018. 


Samtalet handlar förstås om vilken roll Cohn-Bendit spelade i den parisiska majrevolten. Men mot slutet av deras samtal kommer Leggewie in på hans judiska identitet som han tycks ytterst osäker om. Det Cohn-Bendit svarar innehåller tankar som jag läst hos ett antal judiska intellektuella under åren, men jag finner dem så intressanta att jag citerar hela stycket här:

"Leggewie: There is yet another book on May 1968, one that focuses on three Jewish leaders of the revolt: Pierre Goldman, André Glucksmann, and you. Do you think there was a special affinity? 
Cohn-Bendit: What’s astonishing is that Jews, mostly middle-class Jews, have always participated in left-wing movements to a disproportionate extent: in Bolshevism as well as in the American SDS. I’m hesitant to make generalizations here. But perhaps it has to do with the messianic hope for another world and an idealistic desire to improve matters. 
Leggewie: An alternative account of your life could be termed “Under the Pavement—My Jewishness.” That’s something else that will surprise many. After all, you didn’t exactly grow up Jewish—religion played no big part in your childhood, I believe? 
Cohn-Bendit: It’s a little more complicated than that: when my mother returned to Paris after the war, she worked as housekeeping supervisor in a Jewish high school. One of her responsibilities there was organizing the Jewish holidays. So I did dip into the Jewish milieu rather deeply as a child. 
Leggewie: But you had no bar mitzvah? 
Cohn-Bendit: Correct. I had no religious feelings whatsoever. Again I was influenced by my brother, who became a Communist early on. I do feel that I’m rooted in Judaism, but in a cultural, not a religious sense. At the center of it all is my parents’ story of escape: as German Jews and political refugees they had to hide from the Nazis and their collaborators. That’s something I cannot shake off. 
For a long time I tried, by identifying as a Jew merely in Sartre’s sense: it’s the anti-Semite that “makes” the Jew; once anti-Semitism has been overcome, I cease to be a Jew. But no, it’s been part of my identity since before I was even born. I have always wondered what would have happened to me had I been older, like my brother. He could have been that boy in the Warsaw Ghetto. Whenever I looked at that famous image, I thought, This could have been me, too. 
Leggewie: Do you consider yourself a diasporic Jew? 
Cohn-Bendit: Absolutely. This makes for my entire multicultural identity: I can be a Jew in Paris, in Frankfurt, in London, in Montreal. 
Leggewie: But not in Israel! 
Cohn-Bendit: Exactly. To put it crassly: to me, Israel represents the end of Judaism. It’s a nation-state and its inhabitants are Israelis, not Jews. Which is their right, of course."