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Hannah Arendt and the Origins of Israelophobia « Back to Story
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Sol Stern claims "When you review Hannah Arendt’s voluminous writings on Jewish affairs in the decades from 1942 to 1963, it is shocking to discover how mistaken she was on so many issues. She was wrong on the charge of “fascism” leveled against Jabotinsky, Bergson, and Begin; she was wrong in her judgment that the Soviet Union was protecting Jewish national rights; she was wrong to remain silent about the Roosevelt administration’s abandonment of the European Jews; she was wrong about Israel’s ability to defend itself in 1948 without foreign intervention; she was wrong in insisting that the binational approach provided a realistic solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict; and, above all, she was wrong to claim that the Holocaust had become Israel’s justification for abusing innocent Palestinians."
Well, regarding all the above shw was objectively right, and Sol Stern is still wrong. Starting with the fact that Jabotinsky, Bergson and Begin were true fascists who misused democratic means to push their ethno-racist agendas.
Whenever a neo-conservative intellectual (if that phrase reminds you of your old New Left days scoffing at the pentagon it should!) writes that such and such respected argument has long since been "debunked" or discredited by "serious scholars" the reality based community has learned the hard way that no proof for such claims will be forthcoming. So I must at least thank Mr. Stern for his insightful tell in the 2nd graf, alerting an attentive reader that he need not read any further into what is in all probability a calumnious tissue of lies.
You know, its wonderful thesedays how someone can write an article and everyone will follow like sheep. Hmm, I'm sure that this kind of thing happened alot in Germany around 1933. I rather think that if one day it were to appear on the internet that the earth is flat, everyone would believe it
Hmm, Sol, I distinctly smell burning flesh here, a sort of inquisitorial flavour! Rather reminds me of that Johhny Lydon song (aka Public Image): "The Spanish Inquisition/No-one above suspicion/Crying out for reason/Might as well be treason!"
Actually, in all seriousness, what's most interesting about this article of Stern's is that it's a glaring example of the kind of phenomenon he wants to criticize: The Nazi's would demonize anyone on the basis of their ideological position: stern does the same, on the basis of his Zionism. Its part of a dangerous contemporary trend to revise all of past intellectual history on the basis of certain ideological assumptions. There were many jewish intellectuals in modern times who were critical of Zionism, now that the state of israel is an established fact, the witchhunt is now on to root them out and exterminate them by slander. In fact, the National Socialists did precisely this kind of thing when they rose to power in the thirties. Really, shouldnt we Jews be above this kind of thing? Every Jewish person should be to us a brother, even when they do stupid things like Daniel Barenboim. Hannah Arendt was a deep thinker and in whose works I have learnt much about the Western political intellectual tradition. She had her blind spots like everyone else. Mr Stern, I think that you underestimate the intelligence of this creature called man: why don't you just allow each individual to make up their own mind about someone like Arendt, instead of turning your intellectual activities into a crusade? Don't worry, we won't be brainwashed by reading Arendt. We are adults, you know, we can think for ourselves. As for those who cannot, well, that's just too bad. As Goethe once put it, "only those who earnestly strive, they can we rescue".
Actually, in all seriousness, what's most interesting about this article of Stern's is that it's a glaring example of the kind of phenomenon he wants to criticize: The Nazi's would demonize anyone on the basis of their ideological position: stern does the same, on the basis of his Zionism. Its part of a dangerous contemporary trend to revise all of past intellectual history on the basis of certain ideological assumptions. There were many jewish intellectuals in modern times who were critical of Zionism, now that the state of israel is an established fact, the witchhunt is now on to root them out and exterminate them by slander. In fact, the National Socialists did precisely this kind of thing when they rose to power in the thirties. Really, shouldnt we Jews be above this kind of thing? Every Jewish person should be to us a brother, even when they stupid things like Daniel Barenboim. Hannah Arendt was a deep thinker and in whose works I have learnt much about the Western political intellectual tradition. She had her blind spots like everyone else. Mr Stern, I think that you underestimate the intelligence of this creature called man: why don't you just allow each individual to make up their own mind about someone like Arendt, instead of turning your intellectual activities into a crusade? Don't worry, we won't be brainwashed by reading Arendt. We are adults, you know, we can think for ourselves. As for those who cannot, well, that's just too bad. As Goethe once put it, "only those who earnestly strive, they can we rescue".
All I can say: what a beautiful young jewish woman she was!
Excellent article! Arendt identified totally with the German culture of her youth, that she never condemned Heidegger and his Nazism. Also, everyone, it seems, but the Jews, are entitled to their nationalism. But then the Jews have to be "better" than everyone else. At the end of the day even academics are people just like the rest of us, with their faults. Too bad she didn't realize the contradictions in her thought. Fortunately, most of us do.
There is no need to dig so deeply. Arendt put socialism before Jewishness and international socialism before Zionism. According to her, whoever wasn't a socialist was a fascist.
Outstanding article which challenges many preconceptions deeply held in today's self-entitled intelectual circles. One of the strongest points made throughout the reading is that of Jewish allegiance in the political left to the Zionist cause being subservient to a socialist project. It was also very worth-reading for the deconstruction of Hannah Arendt as an indisputable detractor of totalitarianism. It is renderings like this one that sheds light onto the quite often over-simplified question of israeli-arab relations. Best regards to Mr Stern.
Ryan said "Zionism is a mirror image of Nazism". This is typical leftist socialist nonsense. The Nazi's were socialists. It appears Ryan believed in the nation-state for brown people, but for anyone who is not brown....
Zionism is a mirror image of Nazism
She was smarter than this writer when she was asleep!~
It seems that Hannah was part of the German Jewish view on non-German Jews clique. get over it German Jews, non-German Jews are not inferior to you.
Liked the article!
I'm still waiting for that "Palestinian Arab people was invented by KGB" connection . . .
Why should American conservatives support the Jewish state of Israel when over 80% of American Jews support Obama? When most American Jews support illegal immigration from Third World? When most American Jews push for 'gay marriage'? When Wall Street Jews gave bulk of their money to Obama in 2008? When NEW YORK magazine and many Jews brag Obama is their puppet, the 'first Jewish president'? When most Jews are so hostile to American conservatives, what is there for conservatives in supporting Israel? And it seems like most Israelis are happy with Obama, who was hush hush when Israel bombed Gaza and killed 1000s.
Well, she wasn't exactly a friend to the Palestinians either.
"Palestinian Arab people was invented by KGB"
I'm somewhat familiar with Soviet activity in the Middle East and their support of various terrorist organizations, but if Abraham or anyone else can recommend a source that addresses the KGB/Palestinian connection, I would sincerely appreciate it.
She was just another commie sellout.
Really one of the best articles in the last 12 months anywhere!!!
It seems to me that once she was ensconced in the american way, in society, she reverted to the paranoia that must have developed when overrun by nazis. An unstable, hysterical, and neurotic woman made all the more so by her laying in the bed of Heidigger.
Terribly confused by each day more and more.
: jack (Jan. 26, 5:07AM)
No chance of providing a scrap of evidence for your claim, is there jack? In the absence of such evidence, I hope you realize that your comment is every bit as biased as Sol Stern's who, you claim, is every bit as biased as Hannah. You do realize that, don't you, jack? No, probably not.
: David Simonoff (Jan. 30, 9:01AM)
And God bless you too, David.
A pleasure as always.
God bless you, Mr. Stern
you're views as expressed in this article are every bit as biased as arents.
You're right, your comment does not "affect the message of the article." Assuming it is correct - you never quoted directly to the contrary from Stern so his "mistake" is not clear - one wonders why you bothered to post it in the first place.
It is a very good and enlightening article about Hannah Arendt. However, the author makes some unfortunate errors, which do not affect the message of the article, but still should be corrected.
The term "Palestinian" in the sense "Arab-Palestiniian" or simply "Arab" appeared only very recently, perhaps in '80s or '90s, when Palestinian Arab people was invented by KGB in order steal the land from the native people of "Palestine", i.e., the Land of Israel. Using the term "Palestinian" with respect to only Arabs is generally a gross error. But it is a much worse error to apply this term to Arabs of the time of Mandate, when "Palestinian" was used only as applying to ALL inhabitants of Palestine, both Jews and Arabs.
I don't suppose you'd have any grounds for your "suspicion," would you Gabriel?
No, I didn't think so.
An excellent account. I suspect that Hannah was a self-hating Jew; and suffered guilt because of her affair with Heidegger the Unreadable.
J.T. Constable (Jan. 19, 11:50PM) - Right on, J.T.!
Alena Hromadkova (Jan. 21, 7:00AM) - And just why was that a pity, Alena?
James (7:2AM) - Why not give us a brief summary of the Azzam Pasha quote, James, and we can go from there.
Interesting. A minor point though: apparently there is some debate over the Azzam Pasha quote - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Azzam_Pasha_quotation
Might be worth your time to read/consider/rebut as approrpiate.
H.Arendt was an icon for people of Central Europe before 1989, too.But many readers of her book on totalitarianism felt that her direct life experience was somehow limited and one-dimensional. She was lucky to escape in time and was accepted by the US academia soon.She exercised an intellectual influence without any responsibility for its implications or impact.What a pity she didnÂ´t emmigrate to Palestine...
Hannah Arendt was prescient indeed in predicting that Israel would be a 'new Sparta'. And, a near and growing majority of Diaspora Jews are revulsed by its murderously racist treatment of the Palestinians. Arendt called it right.
Canadian (Jan. 19, 5:27PM)
"MontrealMan, (sic) the author's vocabulary being superior to yours (sic) does not justify derison."
Whatever you say, Canadian. (Would that be Alberta?) You sound like you'd get along just fine with Sol, the kind of guy Hannah had in mind.
Brilliant article. Ron - Chicago
MontrealMan, the author's vocabulary being superior to yours does not justify derision. Arendt was a self-hating Jew whose devotion to the international left overruled any reason or conscience that she may have one had. She is worthy of our contempt. And Dilyana, quit drinking the koolaid. The "massacres" that have taken place in the middle east since Israel's independence have been primarily perpetrated by Arabs against other Arabs, and can't be laid at the foot of democratic Jews in their neighborhood. "Magnificent scholarship" indeed.
A great article - revealing some of the seeds of Jew-hatred and Israel-hated.. that flourishes today so widely.
Israel has many enemies; It is deeply hated by the Arabs and Islamists, loathed by the European Left, and despised by the secular Intellectual Left.
But Israel's greatest threat it seems is from its own self-hating Marxist-tainted children... the Thomas Friedman's and Roger Cohen's of the world.
Sol Stern on Hannah Arendt: An Exercise in Objective Analysis
It is fun just looking for Sol's adjectives to describe Hannah. Among others:
Many readers "were shocked" by the themes of "Eichmann in Jerusalem;" "serious scholars have debunked Arendt's charges;" "deeply marred by political naivety and personal rancor;" "deracinated Jews like herself;" She "illegally crossed" the Czech border;" her writing "displays an astonishing lack of political judgement;" the charge (on Begin) "was a canard" acknowledged by "almost every objective historian;" "with little thought or evidence;" she repeated her "inflammatory accusations;" she was "AWOL during the desperate two years from 1942 to 1944;" she "pilloried" European Jewish leaders; she "derided Zionist leader Chaim Weizman; she had "contempt" for Ben Gurion; the "most bizarre, ill-considered judgements"
of her career; she "fell blindly" for Soviet propaganda; she "couldn't get it out of her head;" she "willfully ignored"...; she "repeated the same false claims;" she "experienced a failure of nerve;" she "directed her rancor solely to the Zionist leaders;" her "defeatism;" her "extraordinary misjudgement;" she "remained oblivious;" she wanted to "settle scores" with Ben Gurion; she was involved in "a collaboration of sorts" with Heidegger;" she displayed "personal hypocrisy;" her "seeming callousness;" she was "far from objective in covering the trial" (!); "she was "bigotted;" she had "evident malice;" it was "shocking to discover how mistaken she was on so many issues;" she committed "monumental errors of political and moral judgement;"
Good going Sol. It's always refreshing to read a reasoned, objective account of Hannah Arendt. You gave your Thesaurus a workout on that one.
We note even today that so many Jews are eager to carry water and spread the fictions for Islamic fascists and other anti-Semites.This appears to be a largely Jewish disease and is perhaps a contributing factor to why the Holocaust and now the delegitimization of Israel are so casually accepted in the larger world. If one looks closely,the bacillus of Marxism is usually involved
I am confused by the article's conclusion. If there is to be neither an independent Palestinian state nor a binationatal state what is it that the author proposes? Eternal occupation? Expulsion of Arabs? Apartheid with voting rights only for Jews?
This article is profoundly unfair to the magnificent scholarship of Hannah Arendt. The fact that Arendt strongly disagreed with the methods and principles of Zionism does not belittle her scholarship but emancipate it as critical enterprise not biased by narrow political games. Scholars are not bound to serve the agenda of political doctrines (as Heidegger did), even if this the sacred Zionist ideology, but they try to provide an independent and free-spirited assessment of their time. And, true, they are sometimes wrong. As far as the misjudgments in which Arendt has been accused - at least, one of them, the bi-national Israeli-Palestenian state - has never had a historical chance in order to be deemed a misjudgment. Probably, if people in power had taken some of Arendt's apprehensions seriously much of the massacres and tragedies that followed in the Middle East after the establishment of the mononational Zionist state of Israel, would have been evaded... History, in many respects, proved that Arendt was right to be deeply worried about this part of the world. And finally, the fact that Arendt was a fully assimilated to the German culture Jew (who seemed to have abandoned her intimate connection to the Jewish race) should not mean anything to people who ardently try to fight against any racial or nativist argumentation. Apropos, the argumentation of Nazism...
This article is bizarre in that the author does not seem to know that the Nazis did not call themselves Nazis. They called themselves socialists. Thus the author never reconciles, distinguishes or even comments on the multiple conflicts between Arendt's socialism and that of the mis-named "nazis." For example the author states "the only religion there [in Arendt's German home] was her motherâ€™s ardent socialism." Which socialism was that? The article perpetuates widespread ignorance among people who do not know what the word nazi means. They did not call their symbol a swastika, they called it a hakenkreuz (hooked cross) because it was a type of cross and they used it to symbolize crossed S-letters for their socialism. See the work of the historian Dr. Rex Curry. Come on, its 2012, start facing the issues and stop covering up and evading.
This is simply a magnificent [de] construction of a life lived in total bad faith. Much as one admired long ago the ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM, her later work always struck me as inherently unhonest, if not dishonest. Intellectually false. I never could read Judt without being puzzled. Now his posthumous book is sent me for review, and I have some better preparation. What none of these folks ever learned was the first and last lessons taught by Camus. When Sartre was an Existentialist, he had something to write from. Then he went Stalinist, and the philosophy racket was over for him. What would any decent shrink suppose about Heidegger her lover's lasting imprint? And Heidegger's last book sank into a swamp of feted mysticism re the nature of poetry. What a mess they all swam in. The cesspools of ideology pure and simple, now devolved into American party sillinesses....
Is there any evidence that Arendt was a Soviet dupe? Her language and attitudes suggest strongly she worked to Moscow.
It was a shame that her intellectual purity took priority over any feelings she may have had for fellow Jews. She was fortunate to survive, because of her status as a member of European intelligentsia. Her writings on Israel and the Holocaust reflected distortions of fact in order to remain intellectually pure. Such purity was indeed pathetic.
Sol Stern certainly sharpened my outlook at a more realitic way in the modern world at looking at the bygone days of pre cybernetic WWII and the darkness of all of us and our forefathers and foremothers crying the blues of a difficult life to live and striving to make sense of it all when the eddies and cross currents baffle even the most brilliant minds
such as the imperfect Hannah Erendt as we are all shot full of holes of imperfections and never meet the expectations of others who grow tired of us and make us look in retrospect as if we were only irreseponsible children playing in the sandbox building csstles that someone going by can easily crumble. We live in a vale of tears and the world is a cruel, heartless, harsh set of realities that unrelentingly does not give way rather we give way and go back to dust as if we were quasi Marie Curie described in the book :"Something Out of Nothing:Marie Curie and Radium " wherein she lost her faith as a young girl, when her mother died then she worked herself to the bone the rest of her life and for highest accorded honours got a place in the Parthenon de la Republique de la France for her unremitting efforts unstintingly paid as the cost of serving her fellow humanity to the end of her days only to be forgotten in the pall-mall serious game of life as life rushes headlong heedlessly on to its destiny whatever that might be.
Thank you very much for this well-referenced, detailed and incisive discourse on the limits---and perversions---of intellectual power.
It is, unfortunately, an all too common phenomenon, especially among the amcha.
Perhaps a solution to this situation is for the intellectually gifted to embrace a certain humility; but this may be asking for the impossible.
So similar to the current Jewish Intellectual elites: LeVine, Rosemthal, et al. who write for Al Jazeera.
A Deist, Feminist, Goy, Zionist
So similar to the current Jewish Intellectual elites: LeVine, Rosemthal, et al. who write for Al Jazeera.
A Deist, Feminist, Goy, Zionist
This is a good article. However, Stern errs by writing of the local Arabs in the Land of Israel as if they were a separate people, as in "the Palestinian leadership rejected every proposal. . ." The term "palestinian" for the Arabs is an anachronism. Traditional Arab-Muslim geography did not recognize a "Palestine," which name was a Western name. The Arabs in the British mandatory period rejected the very notion of a country called "palestine." Expert witnesses testifying for the Arabs before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry in 1946 explicitly denied that there was such a land as "palestine." They claimed that it was "Syria" [In Arabic Syria is traditionally called bilad ash-Sham and includes Israel, Jordan and Lebanon as well as the Syria of today].
Just one question.Wonderful article. How can anyone call Arendt anti-totalitarian if she was so enamored of Stalin? It seems to me that she was a hypocrite and as many modern Jewish-leftist today, used the language of anti-totalitarianism simply to demonize Zionist-Jews while making excuses for real evil.
A clear and definitive rebuttal. Now it's time for a rehabilitation of Jabotinsky, who is one of the most slandered figures in Jewish history