Elijah Benamozegh (Livorno, 1823-1900) was a highly-respected Italian rabbi of Moroccan heritage. He was well-versed in Kabbalah, the study of Jewish mysticism and, in his works, connected Kabbalistic and philosophic sources to delineate his conception of God. He argued, inter alia, that Torah and science are in complete harmony, and his religiously tolerant model called for the legitimacy of diversity of faiths and worships.
In this paper, I aim to show that Benamozegh’s conception of the Divine – and thus his philosophy and theology – was based on a reading of Kabbalistic sources about God that was heavily influenced by Baruch Spinoza’s philosophy on the nature of the Divine, and in particular, by the Spinozist-inspired concept of “God’s attributes.” This comparison between Benamozegh and Spinoza will enable us to better understand Benamozegh’s bold argument in favor of religious tolerance, but also how and why he succeeded in challenging the traditional concept of heresy, all while using terminology provided by traditional Jewish sources and from within the rabbinic paradigm.

issue 12 / December 2017 by Gabriel Abensour

Across Psychoanalysis, Jewish Studies and History, rarely has a single essay raised a debate comparable to the one triggered by Freud’s last book Moses and Monotheism. The aim of this paper is to explore it once more from the perspective of the rhetoric of the historical discourse. In the first part we will make use of Michel de Certeau’s and Roland Barthes’ works on the writing of history in order to examine its relation to historiography. We will try to show how Freud undermined the very bases of the discipline questioning its scientific and more positivist character (rather than being questioned by it) and pointing toward trajectories that will be fully undertaken only at a later time. In the second part we will analyze the affinities and the echoes between Freud’s methodology and the historiographical revolution accomplished by the French School of the Annales in those same years, outlining a pattern of transformation of the discipline prefigured and explored, in their own way, by both Freud and the French historians.

issue 12 / December 2017 by Nethanel Treves

Subalterne Positionierungen

Der deutsche Zionismus im Feld des Nationalismus in Deutschland 1890-1933

issue 12 / December 2017 by Laura Almagor

They called us Maccaroni, pasta eaters…

The Integration of Italian Jews in the Nazi Camps

The aim of this paper is to contribute, through the combination of lexicometric and qualitative analyses, to the study of the unofficial relations of domination conveyed by different forms of interaction in the Nazi camps. By using Italian testimonies, this article will try to shed light on the hierarchical dynamics that developed in the camps, in order to comprehend the particular difficulties related to integration and survival. The testimonies of Italian Jews show indeed that there were many varying forms of stereotypes that arose within the concentration and extermination camps, some originating within the community of those imprisoned on racial grounds, others developing within other categories or groups of prisoners. In the first case, stereotypes are generally based on nationality, language and seniority of imprisonment.

issue 12 / December 2017 by Bieke Van Camp

“Our Hopes Are Not Lost Yet”

The Jewish Displaced Persons in Italy: Relief, Rehabilitation and Self-understanding (1943-1948)

This essay deals with the fate of Jewish Displaced Persons in Italy from the liberation of the Camp of Ferramonti di Tarsia, by the Allied Army in 1943, until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. It focuses on the creation of a complex network of agencies, organizations and individuals involved in assisting the Jewish DPs in Italy, in the framework of the post-war refugee crisis. The article discusses the approaches and ambitions of the rescuers (military authorities, UN agencies and representatives from the Yishuv) and the desires of the Jewish DPs themselves, who played an active role both in the administration of the refugee camps as well as in the political discourse regarding their resettlement in British Palestine. Through an analysis of hitherto unexplored archival sources, it will illustrate the development of new sense of belonging and of a renewed identity among the Jewish DPs.

issue 12 / December 2017 by Chiara Renzo

The “[Holocaust] Remembrance Day” was established in Italy by a bill made into law in 2000, following a years-long debate. The law covers chiefly the Fascist and Nazi anti-Jewish persecution from 1938 to 1945, but also the deportation of political opponents and of Italian POWs, and likewise considers non-Jewish Italians who rescued Jews. The date chosen for the day of commemoration is the January 27. The historical events, the categories of victims and the date specified in the law’s final text are the result of a complex process of elaboration and carry a deep meaning. The law’s text contains words and concepts that relate to a democratic national civic memory.
The Italian law is part of a continental process. Compared to its French and German equivalents, it appears both poorer and richer. 
In the Italian civic calendar, the “[Holocaust] Remembrance Day” can be considered alongside other commemorations that mark historical occurrences, chiefly “Liberation Day,” established in 1946 and celebrated on April 25; also the “Memorial Day” established in 2004 for Italian victims in the border territory between Italy and Yugoslavia, which is celebrated on February 10.
In Italian society, the January 27 is a deeply-felt commemoration day; numerous events are organized every year for schools and for the citizenry. The activities for schools are expressly mentioned within the law and have raised the question of the relationship between history and memory (and the present).
Each topic is presented and analyzed through its own specific sources: newspaper articles, parliamentary debates, documents of organizations, legislative texts, popular information material, statistical data, personal involvement, etc.

issue 12 / December 2017 by Michele Sarfatti