Draï, Raphaël

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DRAÏ, RAPHAËL (1942– ), French political scientist, sociologist, religious thinker. Born in Constantine, Draï had to leave Algeria at the age of 19, in 1961, and always considered the fate of Algerian Jews after the war of independence, and his own exile, as a great injustice. Nevertheless, he consistently refused to blame anyone for these events, which he saw as a result of the "hardships of history," leaving the door open to a process of "reconciliation"; he thus remained an advocate of trans-Mediterranean, intercultural, and inter-religious dialogue, and in 2000, after Algerian president Bouteflika acknowledged for the first time, in a speech in Constantine in 1999, the importance of Jewish culture to the history of Algeria, he tried to move forward and, together with the singer Enrico Macias and other Jews from Constantine, traveled to Algeria to pray at the tomb of Algerian-Jewish singer Sheikh Raymond Leyris, assassinated in 1961 and a symbol of the involvement of Jews in the shaping of Arab-Algerian classical culture. Intended to be the beginning of a reconciliation process, the journey left a harsh impression of unrelieved misunderstanding and alienation, but was still a remarkable step forward. In the wake of this journey, Draï voiced the complexity of his feelings in an open letter to President Bouteflika, Lettre au président Bouteflika sur le retour des Pieds-Noirs en Algérie (2000). In France, he had a successful academic career in which he tried to apply a broad perspective to political science, taking into account the results of diligent juridical analysis as well as new developments in the social sciences; he was one of the first social scientists to fully internalize and use the tools provided by psychoanalysis, joining the Psychanalyses et pratiques sociales research unit at the University of Aix-Marseille, where he taught. A former dean of the University of Amiens, Draï also wrote a number of books on social, juridical, administrative, and political subjects, including Le temps dans la vie politique (1981), Sous le signe de Sion: L'antisémitisme nouveau est arrivé (2001), Science administrative, éthique et gouvernance (2002), and Le Droit entre laïcisation et néo-sacralisation, Instabilités européennes: recomposition ou décomposition? (2000). Taking part in official think tanks on bioethics, Draï is also a recognized expert in Talmud and halakhah, using his knowledge of Jewish Law to deepen his ethical, social, and political analysis, so that his work can be described as an unusual attempt to combine a classical juridical approach to political science with the progress of the modern social sciences, psychoanalytical elements, and Jewish tradition. This original endeavor culminated in Identité juive, identité humaine (1995), a discussion of Jewish identity and universal values. Other works related to Judaism were Lettre au Pape sur le pardon au peuple juif (1998), L'Economie chabbatique (1998), Freud et MoïsePsychanalyse, loi juive et pouvoir (1997), La pensée juive et l'interrogation divine (1996), and La sortie d'Egypte, l'invention de la liberté (1986).

[Dror Franck Sullaper (2nd ed.)]