Dr. Ethan Katz, Assistant Professor of History and Affiliated Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Cincinnati, recently visited YU to speak to the Honors Program about his new book, The Burdens of Brotherhood: Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France, out this fall from Harvard University Press. The book describes the history of the relations between France’s Jews and Muslims from World War I until the present.

Dr. Ethan KatzAfter Prof. Ronnie Perelis introduced Dr. Ethan Katz, Dr. Katz spoke about his new book, the general history of Muslims and Jews in France, and the importance of that past for shedding light on the present. He discussed the significant number of Jews that lived in France before World War II and the sense of crisis in Jewish-Muslim relations since the early 2000s, which were marked by aggression, inflammatory pamphlets, and the firebombing of a synagogue, all of which led Dr. Katz to doing research on the historical relations between Jews and Muslims and what led to the current circumstances. His discussion brought us back to moments in history when Jews and Muslims interacted as fellow immigrants and fellow North Africans, instead of as members of opposing ethnic groups.

Muslims and Jews from North Africa had a sense of common culture and were able to bond over food, culture, music, etc., instead of focusing on their differences. But then gradually things were becoming more politicized, which lead to riots and strained relations. Dr. Katz pointed out that both groups are vulnerable now in regard to their standing in France, before opening the floor to questions.


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