Director analyzes history between Jews, Muslims


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Photo by Yesha Chokshi |

Maud Mandel, director of the Judaic Studies Program at Brown University, discussed the rift between Muslims and Jews in France ever since the October 3rd, 2000 Molotov cocktail attack on a synagogue in Paris.


Maud Mandel, director of the Judaic Studies Program at Brown University, gave a lecture last night looking into the origin of the conflict and violence between Muslims and Jews in France.

The University’s Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life hosted the lecture in the Douglass Campus Center, titled “Muslims and Jews in France: The Genealogy of a Conflict.”

Mandel has lectured across Europe and the United States. She focuses on complex issues, said Yael Zerubavel, director of the center and a professor in the Department of Jewish Studies.

According to the Bildner Center website, Mandel specializes in modern Jewish history focused primarily on the 20th century French-Jewish experience.

On October 3, 2000, six Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue in Paris, which led to more attacks against French Jewish institutions, according to the website. Young Muslims from France’s poorer areas orchestrated the attacks.

This attack made national and international news, and the relationship is forever damaged, Mandel said.

The attacks led to concerns about the relationship between Muslim and Jews in France. The lecture explored the roots of the violence by looking into the way the conflict between these groups emerged.

In France, political conflict has hardened, and the struggle between the two groups continues, because some Muslims and Jews interact and co-exist with one another, Mandel said.

“France houses the largest population of Jews and Muslims living side-by-side, besides Israel,” Mandel said.

The lecture aimed to help people understand how solidified ways of thinking emerged between Muslims and Jews, Mandel said.

Mandel highlighted how global developments in the Middle East and North Africa shaped the French relationship between the groups.

The decolonization of North Africa forever damaged the relationship between Muslims and Jews, a fact that surprises most people, Mandel said.

The Bildner Center offers lectures on Jewish interests throughout the year. It is open to the University students and the general public, said Karen Smalls, assistant director for the center.

The Bildner Center has all kinds of lectures throughout the school year that relate Jewish history and generate interest. The goal of the center is to bring lectures that will bring perspectives different than that of the media, Zerubavel said.

“It is creating a bridge between scholarly community and public,” Zerubavel said.

The center funds all lectures and is free and open to the public, she said.

Smalls said the center has a large following, and depending on the topic, they can have a large turnout. For this lecture, about 150 people RSVP’d.

Mandel is the daughter of two University professors. Her mother is Ruth Mandel, the director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at the University, she said.

Growing up at the University, she was a familiar face to most of the audience members, which she said was touching.

“It is an incredible opportunity to come back here and be able to do this,” Mandel said.


Maggie Monaghan

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