By Jennifer Lipman
May 20, 2011
The Daily Beast offers an interesting follow-up piece to Bernard-Henri Lévy's bizarre defence of the disgraced DSK.
In it, academic Eric Alterman argues that the case is "primo fodder for anyone wanting to lob anti-Jewish comments in DSK’s direction, or even issue antisemitic broadsides about Jews inevitably rising to the defense of one of their own, regardless of the circumstances".
He's right. DSK, for those who hadn't worked it out from the surname, is Jewish, as is his wife. The crime he is accused of is, by anyone's standards, shocking; arguably made all the more so by virtue of his status as a powerful and influential person.
Alterman, however, goes on to highlight the supposed lack of Jewish-centric "conspiracy theories floating around France for this historic upheaval in the nation’s political future". In his view, this is proof that "claims of an antisemitism epidemic in [France] are overblown".
Maybe. I'm not so sure.
Certainly, DSK's downfall isn't Madoff mark two, the story of a rich Jew gone bad. He has been described as Jewish in most newspaper stories, but largely only in the sense he has been described as "French" or "a banker", that is to say for biographical purposes.
But I still think Alterman's argument is naive. And here's why.
If you put into Google the search term "Dominique Strauss-Kahn Jewish" the top result (below news headlines) is a jokey JC story from October 2008, part of a now-discontinued series in which the JC assessed the Jewish credentials of various public figures.
Since Sunday, that story has accounted for more than six per cent of all traffic to the JC website.
On the surface, people may not be writing this as a Jewish story.
But it's a little curious just how many people wanted to check just how Jewish Dominique Strauss-Kahn was this week.