The sexual scandal in which Dominique Strauss-Kahn now finds himself embroiled greatly distresses me on several levels.
First and foremost, any assault, sexual or otherwise, perpetrated by one human being against another is an outrage.
On a Jewish level, many of us Jews living in the 2lst century can still identify with Grandma’s response when a Jew committed any wrongful act. She viewed it as a shanda fur die goyim (literally, a shame before the nations). This Yiddish phrase reflects a Jew’s discomfort over any embarrassing or illegal act committed by a Jew that gets the attention of non-Jews.
On yet a deeper, personal level, I am heartsick over the Strauss-Kahn affair. As a French teacher, I have many ambivalent feelings about a country where more than 75,000 Jews were transported to die in the Holocaust. Strauss-Kahn was the golden boy, who was showing the world what a French Jew today can achieve; he was even a possible contender in the next French presidential election. His hopes are now all but dashed. The saddest aspect of the whole sordid affair is that Strauss-Kahn can’t point a finger at anti-Semitism or even prejudiced political enemies. Indeed, the life he built has crumbled and he has no one to blame but himself.