The Arty Semite

Danny the Red!: German Jewish Politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit Still in the Spotlight

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

An indelible memory of France’s 1968 social upheaval is the diminutive red-haired German Jew, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, nicknamed “Danny the Red,” popping up gleefully at student protests and shouting to the crowds.

A sympathetic new biography by tabloid journalist Emeline Cazi, “The Real Cohn-Bendit” (“Le vrai Cohn-Bendit”) from Editions Plon, explains that Cohn-Bendit was born to parents who fled the Nazis to Paris in the 1930s, where they hobnobbed with other exiles such as filmmaker Max Ophüls, Walter Benjamin, and Hannah Arendt. In 1963, Cohn-Bendit’s observant mother sent him to Kibbutz HaZore’a in Israel for a few weeks, where the experience of collective labor pleased the anarchistic young lefty.

In America, most 1960s radicals are long gone from the political scene, but Cohn-Bendit is still omnipresent in European media, making pronouncements in German, French, Italian, and even a little English. No less than three books by Cohn-Bendit appeared last year: “What To Do?”; “Forget 68”; and “For the Planet.”

At 65, Cohn-Bendit advances ecological concerns as a member of the European Parliament and co-Chair of the Greens/European Free Alliance party, and he also appears regularly at commemorations of the 1968 student uprisings, notably in Warsaw in 2008, alongside his friend, Polish Jewish journalist Adam Michnik.

Long delighting in the public eye, Cohn-Bendit’s candidacy for President of the European Parliament, as floated in “The Real Cohn-Bendit,” has lately crashed due to past statements and writings which have been seen by some as admissions of pedophilia, dating back to the 1970s. The mere presence of such allegations, whether true or not, should capsize any higher electoral ambitions. Still, in the April 1 cover story of le Nouvel Observateur, when asked “Who Can Beat Sarkozy?” two French politicians responded, “Daniel Cohn-Bendit.”

Cohn-Bendit’s passion for crude verbal manipulation of historical metaphor should continue to win him headlines; in 1968, he opposed the construction of a new French sports center, claiming that sports centers were “one of Hitler’s methods for distracting young people away from real problems.” Similarly, a chapter in “The Real Cohn-Bendit” is headed with the muddled maxim: “Presidential elections are the AIDS of politics.”

Watch Cohn-Bendit mixing it up with a Swiss politician on TV last year after Switzerland, in a referendum, banned the construction of new minarets attached to mosques:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Nicolas Sarkozy, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Emeline Cazi

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Yeshiva University's lawyer wanted to know why the dozens of former schoolboys now suing over a sexual abuse cover-up didn't sue decades ago. Read the judge's striking response here.
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.