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Review: Being Jewish in France

Yves Jeuland's documentary
By PETER KEOUGH  |  March 14, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars

BeingJewish
"A love affair gone sour," is how one of the writers quoted in director Yves Jeuland's documentary describes the Vichy collusion with the Nazis, which ended with thousands of French Jews rounded up by Gendarmes and shipped to death camps. Sour, indeed; but despite all the barbarity of that period, France, the film argues, has also served as a perennial refuge for Jews, being the first country in Europe to allow them citizenship. And perhaps as a backlash to that tolerance, it has persisted as a breeding ground for anti-Semitism, ranging from the anti-Dreyfusards of the late 19th century to the anti-Israeli Arab immigrants burning synagogues in the 21st. Combining archival footage, excerpts from French films such as The Grand Illusion and The Sorrow and the Pity, and commentary from prominent Jewish politicians, historians, and other cultural figures — many of whom are Holocaust survivors — Jeuland's history is at times scattered, but always compelling.
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