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Betrayed by Europe: An Expatriate's Lament

Nidra Poller

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Washington, D.C., November 29, 2003

It is not so easy to know when you're deluding yourself and when you are finally seeing the light. When I look back at my reasons for leaving the United States for France in 1972, some seem to me as outmoded--and, in retrospect, as endearing--as Beatles haircuts and Vietnam-war protests. Others stubbornly persist. In any event, my career as a serious American novelist having been short-circuited, I opted for the improbable exploit of becoming a writer in French and a professional translator, and I succeeded. I am long settled in Paris; the three youngsters I brought there, tucked under my free-flying wing, are mature adults with fast-growing children of their own. We have excelled in flexibility, risen to every challenge, transformed somewhat slapdash beginnings into a harmonious whole.

What happened? The sea change began on September 28, 2000, when the domestic repercussions of Arafat's prefabricated "al-Aqsa" intifada in Jerusalem struck me in a dizzying instant of recognition. I was hardly alone. Stunned and dazed, the formerly integrated, assimilated, liberated, progressive, and (in some cases) indifferent Jews of France found themselves--ourselves--thrust out of the body politic and herded into a virtual ghetto. In the years since then, things have only gotten worse, much worse.

Read this article in Commentary Magazine.



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