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Deux Ou Trois Choses Que Je Sais De Lui
April 10, 2013 - 4:31pm



It takes guts to be a high-profile moral - nay, spiritual - leader and a plagiarist.  Ask Richard Land.  Given the likelihood of capture, you need to have that Elmer Gantry, je m'en fou, caution to the winds, borderline-psycho thing.  You need to have Gantry's arrogant assurance that you can break the rules in all sorts of additional ways - in the case of Gilles Bernheim, Chief Rabbi of France, that you can employ a ghostwriter and not tell your publisher; that you can accuse a dead man who was your student of having plagiarized you; that you can plagiarize in other places in the book in question as well as in earlier books bearing your name; and that you can, for the final flourish on your intellectual fraudulence, lie about having earned an agrégation degree.  You need to believe that you can do all of these things and not get caught.  You need to believe that when you are discovered to have lied about having done these things, people won't feel contempt for you and ask you to resign the position you've corrupted.

But the balls-to-the-wall shamelessness of M. Bernheim doesn't end in his refusal, as an inveterate hypocrite, to resign a position of high spiritual authority.  No, like Gantry, he is determined to go down as farce rather than tragedy.   Instead of allowing France's Jewish community to remove him and move on, their leader is issuing statements that make him the world's laughingstock.  Why, he is asked, did he lie so cruelly and abundantly about all of this when he was caught?

“I retrospectively analyze it as denial.”

Ah oui I am from ze proud land of René Descartes and Jacques Lacan and when I am how you say a shit I subject this behavior to retrospective analysis and thus discover - sacre bleu - that I was undergoing what Sartre in L'Être et le Néant called denial, de-nial, le de-nial-ity, what Husserl called Verweigerung...

You can see why Bernheim just kept lying and lying and didn't think he'd get caught.  I mean, Jane Goodall, people!  Who's going to think for one minute that people as sainted as rabbis and conservationists would plagiarize? 

But note the age of these people.  These people haven't gotten with the cut-and-paste-software times, with the agrégation-pretender program era.  There are new talmudistas on the block, Bernheim, and they're studying you


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