Chief rabbi joins France's thriving liars’ club

While all French eyes were focused firmly this week on former budget minister and secret offshore banker Jérôme Cahuzac, France’s chief rabbi took the chance to quietly excrete his own admission of guilt.

 

After weeks of denying accusations that he had plagiarised material for his latest book, Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim (below) finally acknowledged on Tuesday that parts of the book had indeed been copy-pasted straight from other texts.

 

Hardly anybody in France noticed the story though, because they were all busy staring, aghast, at the other news just in – their trusty budget minister had been hiding away 600,000 euros in an offshore bank account.

 

Either Bernheim has an uncanny sense of timing or his PR adviser is a genius. After weeks of maintaining his innocence, falsely accusing a dead writer of plagiarism and generally throwing his toys out of the pram, Bernheim chose Tuesday to release a statement acknowledging his guilt. Not only was he conveniently out of the country at the time (and therefore far from the public glare), but his admission came just hours after Jérôme Cahuzac released his own stinking bombshell.

 

‘He plagiarised me first’

 

Like Cahuzac, Bernheim wrongly believed that if he lied for long enough, the accusations against him would go away. But unlike Cahuzac, Bernheim was faced with a mass of hard, publicly available, evidence against him. Four pages of it, copied almost word for word, from a 1991 interview with philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, appeared in his 2011 book, ‘Forty Jewish Meditations’.

 

Bernheim attempted to get round this unfortunate coincidence by suggesting that the late Lyotard, who attended lectures delivered by Bernheim in the 1980s, had in fact plagiarised him, not the other way round. 

 

“During his lectures, [Bernheim] used to hand out copies of his text to scholars and also allowed the tape-recording of his lectures,” a statement published on his website on March 20 read. “This week, [Bernheim] discovered an interview in which Jean-François Lyotard repeated one of those lectures,” it continued.

 

In a show of forgiveness to Lyotard (who, conveniently, has been dead since 1998), Bernheim promised not to pursue the matter.

 

Aw, shucks.

 

‘Strong desire’ to copy and paste

 

But Bernheim’s creative plea did not get him very far. When the blogs that had initially drawn attention to the matter began to dig a little further into the book, they discovered other chunks of familiar-looking work, this time by authors such as Elie Wiesel and Charles Dobzynski. They were also drawn to some unlikely edicts for a rabbi, such as “Christ put an end to God's suspense”. Strangely enough, Catholic writer Jean-Marie Domenach expressed the same sentiment, word for word, back in 1976.

 

When Bernheim did finally admit to having lied, he still refused to take full responsibility. Yes, the book included plagiarised texts, he said. But it was not him who had put them there. Citing a “lack of time”, Bernheim claimed that he had asked one of his students – whose name, incidentally, he couldn’t possibly divulge – to “do some research for” (i.e.: write) the book. “It was a terrible mistake… I have been fooled,” he said.

 

He didn’t mind fooling the public, however, when the book was released. Talking about it in an interview published on a Jewish students’ website in December 2011 (since removed), he described “a strong desire to write,” saying that he would work right up until he went to bed and then as soon as he woke up in the morning.

 

Bernheim has now asked for 'Forty Jewish Meditations' to be recalled and removed from his biography. Whether he will resign remains to be seen. Perhaps he’s waiting for that clandestine student of his to pen his resignation letter…
 

Tags for all blogs :
Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of FRANCE 24. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. FRANCE 24 is not liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.
4 Comments
‘He plagiarised me first’ It may be a shock to the majority of Humanity original thought is extremely rare. And it has been found those who claim themselves the inventor are mere usurpers of someone elses idea. Who invariably got it from someone else. So we are all plagiarists. Get over it. One wonders what would have been discovered by now by real geniuses if they did not have to waste an enormous amount of time footnoting every plagiarists infinitum. Time better spent discovering if it is indeed true fear and sex, drive the formation of cultures whose level of magical thinking required to control women is inverse to the amount of fear and terror Other and women experience. And more importantly given time and space the inevitability of terror. In a decade witchcraft was abolished in at least most of Europe because it was realised working from a cultural defined truth to establish truth was and is a dangerous and false premise. It appears psychology is again having culture define truth as a base for research - 'respect' - alas can no longer be determined a science as 'respect for truth no longer applies.
I guess he thought that plagiarism rules applied only to the "little people"! He should resign - not for the plagiarism so much as for the cavalier attitude to truth and honor which he displayed and his clear unwillingness to "walk in the ways of the Lord and obey his commandments."
what is the big deal muslim clerics have lied so many times and nothing is said
Liar Liar, pants on FIRE.