Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Modernity of Others: Jewish Anti-Catholicism in Germany and France

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Modernity of Others: Jewish Anti-Catholicism in Germany and France

Article excerpt

The Modernity of Others: Jewish Anti-Catholicism in Germany and France. By Ari Joskowicz. [Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture.] (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 2014. Pp. xiv, 373. $65.00. ISBN 978-0-8047-8702-4.)

There is an extensive and excellent literature on the role of the Catholic Church in the long history of anti-Jewish prejudices and violence. In this striking, erudite, and sure-footed monograph, Ari Joskowicz reverses the usual perspective, focusing our attention on the negative attitudes of Jews toward Catholicism over the course of the long nineteenth century, from the high Enlightenment to the aftermath of the Dreyfus affair. Taking a transnational approach, looking at France and Germany in parallel, Joskovicz excellently brings out the potential of comparative history, illuminating the situation in each country by highlighting its similarities, differences, and intertwinements with the other. He also overcomes the reductive binarism of much work in Jewish-Christian relations, which can treat Christianity monolithically. In this study we are made keenly aware that Jews were closely engaged in the various tussles between liberal secularism and Catholidsm, which modernizing liberals often designated as their primary nemesis.

In no sense, though, is this study a simple turning of the tables on the well-known history of Catholic antisemitism in this period. Both Jews and Catholics were victims of targeted violence during the nineteenth century, as Joskovicz points out, rightly arguing that there is a place for the comparative study of these physical manifestations of prejudice (pp. 35-37). The focus of his study, however, is on the discursive use by Jews of anti-Catholic rhetoric. This was a "political language," deployed by Jews in various ways for varying purposes. Scholars have long recognized that anti-Jewish discourse can have many uses, often only loosely connected to Jews themselves. Joskovicz's analysis shrewdly redeploys this insight, highlighting, for example, the ways in which terms such as Jesuitic or medieval carried evocative anti-Catholic resonances and were terms through which modernizing Jews frequently expressed their alignment with progress and against whatever they deemed as in opposition to this-including, not infrequently, their adversaries within the Jewish community (p. …

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