With immigration currently at the center of a thorny and painful debate, it might not be useless to consider this documentary by Isabelle Wekstein, which offers us a particularly happy example of republican integration. The film opens with an archive from 1987 showing its main character, Ady Steg (1925-2021), interviewed as a witness by the commission for the adoption of the nationality code. Little known to the general public, he was a notable figure in French Judaism as well as medical research.

A few dates put into context will undoubtedly say better than words the itinerary of this man. Born on January 27, 1925 in Nioszni Verecky, a lost Jewish town in Subcarpathian Ruthenia, Czechoslovakia, in a traditionalist environment. Arriving in France with her family in 1932, at the age of 7, she immediately fell in love with the surrounding Gaulishness and the emancipatory virtues of the French Republic.

Chilling comeback during the Occupation, wearing the yellow star, father deported to Auschwitz, miracle of survival. Aya Stag left the war with more than honors, after joining the French Interior Forces in the free zone, at the age of 17. We haven’t seen anything yet. Medicine awaited him, he soon conquered its summits.

Doctor of François Mitterrand

Successor to Professor Pierre Aboulker at the head of the urology department at Cochin hospital in Paris in 1976, he operated on President François Mitterrand there in 1992 for prostate cancer, then shared with him the heavy secret of his illness until the end. Concerned moreover, out of loyalty to his origins, to defend a Judaism integrated into the city, he became a figure of this community, as president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, from 1970 to 1974, then of the Universal Israelite Alliance in 1985, without mentioning, later, his leading role within the study mission on the dispossession of the Jews of France, known as the “Mattéoli mission”.

Also, under the portrait of a man with an exemplary destiny, what this film evokes more broadly is indeed the relationship, undoubtedly less irenic than what this destiny suggests, of the Jews of France to their country in during the 20th century. A known story, certainly, but the editing of this film, which we once again feel on edge, presents in the light of a threat which, up to the highest level of the State, will never have been completely extinguished.

“Self-confident and dominant people” (Charles de Gaulle on the Six-Day War in June 1967). “Innocent French people” (Raymond Barre on the subject of the non-Jewish victims of the attack on rue Copernic, in Paris, October 3, 1980). Unwavering friendship between François Mitterrand and René Bousquet, who notoriously had Jewish blood on his hands as general secretary of the Vichy police. “Point of detail of history” (Jean-Marie Le Pen on the subject of the genocide). This beautiful national garland shows to what extent, after centuries of uninterrupted massacre, after the Shoah itself, anti-Semitism reveals itself to be an incurable disease of humanity.

The film does not go that far, but when we see it, we think, on the occasion of the latest events in the Middle East, that this old itching, spread to new areas, is re-itching a part of French society and its class. policy.