This article describes the powerplay around the recent discovery (summer 2015) of eighteenth-century Jewish graves in the French city of Lyon. Prior to the French Revolution, Jews had no right to have their own cemeteries, and the corpses of the deceased were buried in the basement of the local catholic hospital, the Hôtel- Dieu. In recent years this centrally located building was completely renovated and converted into a retail complex selling luxury brands. The discovery and subsequent identification of the graves – and of some human remains – led to a complex confrontation between various actors: archaeologists, employed either by the municipality or by the state; religious authorities (mostly Lyons chief rabbi); the municipality itself; the private construction companies involved; direct descendants of some of the Jews buried in the hospital‘s basement; as well as the local media. The question of what to do with the graves took centre stage, and while exhumations were favoured by both archaeologists and the representatives of the families, the chief rabbi – supported by the construction companies – proved reluctant to exhume, for religious reasons. In the first part of his article the author details the origins of this Jewish funerary place and current knowledge about it. He then goes on to analyse what was at stake in the long negotiations, arguing that the memory of the Holocaust played a role in the attitude of many of the parties involved. By way of conclusion he considers the decision not to exhume the graves and elaborates on the reasons why this led to some dissatisfaction.
This book focuses on the paradoxical character of law and specifically concerns the structural violence of law as the political imposition of normative order onto a "lawless" condition. The paradox of law which grounds and motivates Christoph Menke's intervention is that law is both the opposite of violence and, at the same time, a form of violence. The book develops its engagement with the paradox of law in two stages. The first shows why, and in what precise sense, the law is irreducibly characterized by structural violence. The second explores the possibility of law becoming self-reflectively aware of its own violence and, hence, of the form of a self-critique of law in view of its own violence. The Book's philosophical claims are developed through analyses of works of drama: two classical tragedies in the first part and two modern dramas in the second part. It attempts to illuminate the paradoxical nature of law by way of a philosophical interpretation of literature. There are at least two normative orders within the European ethical horizon that should be called "legal orders" even though they forego the use of coercion and are thus potentially nonviolent. These are international law and Jewish law. Understanding the relationship between law and violence is one of the most urgent challenges a postmodern critical legal theory faces today. Self-reflection, the philosophical concept that plays a key role in the essay, stands opposed to all forms of spontaneity.
disposal. The second one is Jewish law, developed and practiced over centuries under conditions of the diaspora, thus lacking any state-based means of enforcement. Both legal orders already informed the agenda laid out by Walter Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence” (1920/21) which can therefore guide a critical interrogation of Menke’s hidden premises. Benjamin’s notion of deposing the law (Entsetzung des Rechts), I argue, should not be interpreted as a “self-reflection of law,” as Menke suggests, but rather as the idea of a law without violence. Only if we interpret
to varying degrees with Jewish customs, which was in all likelihood true in the cases of Frenkel, Mincberg, and Weichselfish. There are several prescriptive and customary practices in Judaism pertaining to burial. Jewish law ordinarily forbids exhumation (except for reburial in Israel) and the transfer of corpses and human remains from one 48 Gabriel N. Finder Figure 2.6 Survivors from Kutno surround the monument unveiled in 1945, during the reburial of ashes from Chełmno, in memory of the town’s Jewish victims; Ephraim Weichselfish is visible in uniform to
undertaken it becomes apparent that, in most cases, Jewish law (Halacha) has led to searches being forbidden, restricted or incomplete.27 Despite the complexities of Jewish law (see David Deutsch’s chapter in this volume), in essence it stipulates that the body of a deceased person is tied to a soul and, therefore, to disturb a grave is to disturb a soul.28 There are certain exclusions to this rule, for example if remains are under threat or if they have been scattered rather than buried within a grave.29 However, in the absence of suitable non-invasive methods in the
Christian counterparts at this time, needs clarification. Ancient Jewish law had specified in the Babylonian Talmud that it was a mother’s duty to breastfeed, and that a mother should naturally choose to do so.55 In the Babylonian Talmud, Ketubot 59–60 stated: ‘She [the mother] must nurse until the child is two years.’ Ketubot 61 stated, however, that if a husband forbade his wife to nurse her infant: she had a legal right to make her own decision, since the labour and trouble would be hers alone. If however, the wife wished not to nurse, the decision was made according
compass’. His concern was that Enlightenment had ‘not trodden down all the tracks of barbarism in history’, including barbarism toward Jews, and that ‘prejudice’ was continuing to put ‘obstacles in the way of our civil admission’. 22 Mendelssohn rejected the notion that Jews needed ‘improvement’ or that there was anything in the observance of Jewish law that was not compatible with the imperatives of philosophical universalism – except, that is, the
early as the third century AD in the form of letters of correspondence between Jewish scholars in Persia and Palestine, and the letters contained questions and dilemmas concerning Jewish law, rituals and traditions. Such correspondence later expanded to countries in every part of the Diaspora and over time the literature grew by leaps and bounds. The format, content and style of responsas changed throughout the years, influenced by the diverse localities and by the contexts of the rulings. The most significant shift, which is relevant to modern responsa, occurred
numerous taboos around corpses. Yet, while the major monotheisms appear in most of the volume’s case studies, they do not state any clear religious policies regarding corpses en masse. For instance, Orthodox Jewish law, the Halakha, which deals in minute detail with the treatment of individuals who have died of natural causes, proved incapable of applying the same rules to the situations that arose from the Holocaust. This becomes 4 4 Human remains in society very clear from reading the chapter by David Deutsch who, by analysing the Orthodox rabbinic Responsas
together. Fischer-Lescano calls it “a theory that is plausible in a world defined by the Westphalian order. But this form of life has grown gray” (p. 173). Daniel Loick agrees and confronts it with the form of Jewish law in the diaspora that functions precisely “without being represented in a state form” (p. 102). Furthermore, for both Fischer-Lescano and Loick, the different regimes of international law are paradigms that show the conceptual independence of legal procedure and political community: they are “forms of lawmaking beyond the political community conceived