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Grégoire, these arguments contributed to a rhetoric of regeneration and emancipation which defined and gave direction to Jewish-Christian relations throughout the nineteenth century.

Regeneration and amelioration

Searing events illustrating the vulnerability of Jews as well as Protestants charged the climate of the last years of ancien régime France. Millennarians, rationalists, and humanitarians expressed a common theme. Their motivations may have differed and their goals competed, but they all agreed that France must acknowledge its non-Catholics and grant them basic human rights. 'In France it is not at all religion, but origin which determines that one is French', the Parisian lawyer Jaladon argued in 1784. Atheist or deist, Jew or Catholic, Protestant or Muslim - what does it matter? If one is born in France of a French mother and French father, . . . then one is French and enjoys all the rights of a citizen.'19

On 25 August 1785, the Metz Royal Academy announced the subject for its 1787 competition: 'Are there means to render the Jews more useful and happier in France?' That this Academy chose to investigate the condition of the Jews could have been anticipated by its previous year's competition which dealt with the laws and opinions concerning bastards - in other words, those born of Protestant parents. This time, however, the Academy found the entries to be 'mediocre' and decided to extend the competition until the following year. In 1788, having despaired of finding an essay which resolved the 'multiplicity of doubts' concerning the Jews, the Academy agreed to crown three 'good' works.

In its published broadsheet, the Academy, and more specifically Pierre-Louis Roederer, had specifiedjust which doubts it had hoped to see refuted.20 JohannDavid Michaelis and Voltaire, Roederer explained, portray the Jews as eternally doomed and public opinion has followed them.21 Jean-Jacques Rousseau claims that Moses has given the Jews customs incompatible with those of other nations, and their enemies have seized upon this perhaps indiscreet assertion as truth.22

Roederer, of course, was not alone in signalling the impediments to integrating the Jews provided by these 'celebrated writers'. Since the eighteenth century, Jews and non-Jews alike have debated their contribution, and that of the Enlightenment as a whole, to the construction of a modern anti-Semitism predicated not merely on an antipathy towards Judaism, but also on the presumed innate and irremediable characteristics of the Jews themselves.23 That

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