Reflections from the Outstanding Jewish Pariah: Hannah Arendt on What Went Wrong with the Zionist Project
Monday, October 23, 202312:00 pm – 1:30 pm EDT/GMT-4
Arendt’s extraordinary insights on nationalism, federalism, political rebirth, imperialism, and racism originated in her writings on the modern Jewish experience in Europe and on the Zionist project. This talk reviews Arendt’s highly personal and intellectually rich reflections on the promises and perils of Zionism. She took pride in Palestine’s pre-state Yishuv for developing a new Jewish cultural center and socially just institutions, like the kibbutzim. Arendt saw the potential of Zionism to advance Jewish emancipation and contribute to global struggles for a more egalitarian, democratic and peaceful world. Ultimately, however, Arendt lamented the Zionist movement’s embrace of the two dynamics that had proved so deadly to Jews and to the world at large: the nation-state system and imperialism. To realize the promise of Zionism, argued Arendt, the movement would need to overcome two crippling pathologies: a belief in an eternal antisemitism and an attraction to a “tribal” nationalism. Her Zionist writings remain essential for both reflecting upon the grave contemporary crisis of Zionism and inspiring contemporary Jewish pariahs.
Biography of Jonathan Graubart:
Jonathan Graubart is a professor of political science at San Diego State University who specializes in the areas of international relations, international law, Zionism and Jewish dissent, Israel-Palestine, the UN, normative theory, and resistance politics. He received his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002 and his JD from UC Berkeley Law School in 1989.
Graubart’s recent book is Jewish Self-Determination beyond Zionism: Lessons from Hannah Arendt and other Pariahs (Temple University Press 2023). Richard Falk describes it as “An exciting, profound, and humane critical rethinking of Zionism as the ideological foundation of the Israeli state, Graubart’s alternative vision reinforces what Zionism might have become if its leaders had not opted for an exclusivist Jewish state necessitating the continuous repression, exploitation, and discrimination of the Palestinian people in their own homeland. The recent surge to the Israeli far right gives this fine book a timely urgency, especially for liberal Jews, who should be deeply disturbed by what has happened in Israel beneath the banner of Zionism.”
His other publications include “Reimagining Zionism and Coexistence after Oslo’s Death: Lessons from Hannah Arendt” (Arendt Studies Quarterly, 2019), “David in Goliath’s Citadel: Mobilizing the Security Council’s Normative Power for Palestine” (European Journal of International Relations 2016, co-authored with Arturo Jimenez-Bacardi), and “War is Not the Answer: R2P and Military Intervention,” (part of an edited volume by Cambridge University Press on Responsibility to Protect, 2015). In 2008, Graubart published Legalizing Transnational Activism: The Struggle to Gain Social Change from NAFTA’s Citizen Petitions with Penn State University Press.
For more information, call 845-758-6822