Tuesday, May 08, 2007

More on Hannah Arendt

Elchanan Yakira has a new book out - Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust. Three essays on denial, repression and delegitimation of Israel - [Post-tsionut post-shoah] Am Oved, 2007,270 pp, Softcover (in Hebrew). His new theme, expounded in the book is The Holocaust as an Argument in a Comprehensive Ideological Negation of Israel and of Zionism.

In it, he examines how anti-Zionists and those who suffer Judeaophobia use the Holocaust to attack Israel. Hannah Arendt figures prominently in it. In a previous article, he wrote:-

For some time, Hannah Arendt has been considered a major thinker, regarded by some as perhaps the most important political philosopher of the twentieth century. She is now becoming a major figure in Israel as well, in light of which, this article reexamines Arendt's attitude towards the "Jewish question", notably Zionism and the State of Israel. The article shows, through looking at Arendt's work as a whole, that she has never succeeded in overcoming her own Jewish problem. Fundamental tension between a typical universalism and a deep feeling of Jewishness marks all of her work, but explodes in her report on Eichmann's trial. Attending this was, for her, in her own words, a "late cure"--perhaps from this unresolved tension between Jewish identity and particularism and universalistic aspirations. The result was the book on the Eichmann trial which was, as the article tries to show, a moral failure in the strict sense of the word.

And see my previous post as well as my letter and correspondence.

And now, there's this:-

[Arendt] she seeks to underscore the political paradoxes of the nation-state. If the nation-state secures the rights of citizens, then surely it is a necessity; but if the nation-state relies on nationalism and invariably produces massive numbers of stateless people, it clearly needs to be opposed. If the nation-state is opposed, then what, if anything, serves as its alternative?

Arendt refers variously to modes of ‘belonging’ and conceptions of the ‘polity’ that are not reducible to the idea of the nation-state. She even formulates, in her early writings, an idea of the ‘nation’ that is uncoupled from both statehood and territory. The nation retains its place for her, though it diminishes between the mid-1930s and early 1960s, but the polity she comes to imagine, however briefly, is something other than the nation-state: a federation that diffuses both claims of national sovereignty and the ontology of individualism. In her critique of Fascism as well as in her scepticism towards Zionism, she clearly opposes those disparate forms of the nation-state that rely on nationalism and create massive statelessness and destitution. Paradoxically, and perhaps shrewdly, the terms in which Arendt criticised Fascism came to inform her criticisms of Zionism, though she did not and would not conflate the two.

No comments: