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Politics & Society N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 0 W W W. T I K K U N . O R G T I K K U N 11 HowHannahArendtWasLabeled an “EnemyofIsrael” byDanielMaier-Katkin A dhominemattackisnotnewinJewishpolitics.Intimidation ofcriticsofIsraelipolicyisasoldasthemodernStateofIsrael itself. The discourse within Zionism about Israel’s path to security and peace has not been tolerant of dissenting ideas. A recent example knowntoTikkunreaderswasthedisturbinglyoddgraffitiattackon Rabbi Lerner’s home in May that portrayed him embracing Justice Goldstone, declaring “any enemy of Israel is a friend of mine.” (Goldstone authored the UN report that accused both Hamas and Israel of war crimes in the Gaza invasion of almost two years ago.) Goldstone and Lerner are not the first Jews to have detractors equate their criticism of Israel with treason against the Jewish people. Perhaps the most famous example is the reception of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. Arendt’s experience in the 1960s offers an early example of repressive strategies forthepunishmentandrepressionofdissent.Arendt’sstoryhasvaluetoprogressive Jews not only because she is a matriarchal figure in the development of progressive Jewish political thought, but also because the campaign against Arendt illuminates the recurring threat to freedom of thought that still menaces Justice Goldstone, Rabbi Lerner, and others in the present moment. That Arendt’s ideas are now so widely respected should make us think twice about those pilloried in similar ways today. Arendt was born into a comfortable, educated, secular Jewish family in East Prussia at the beginning of the twentieth century. She was educated to the highestuniversitylevelsinclassics ,Greek,Latin,continentalphilosophy,andGerman literature. She was not a Zionist because she did not personally have any impulse to emigrate to Eretz Yisroel. She was at ease with her identity as a Jew in the diaspora , happily European, immersed in the warm glow of Enlightenment culture and Western civilization. Palestine would have been an “exotic” destination for her; Paris and New York were not. Nevertheless, Arendt respected the idealism, acumen, and courage of the Zionists and greatly admired her friend Kurt Blumenfeld, the dashing, brilliant president of the German Zionist Organization. It was library research on the extent of anti-Semitism in Germany just weeks after the Nazi seizure of power, undertaken at Blumenfeld’s request, that was Daniel Maier-Katkin, author of Stranger From Abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness (W.W. Norton, 2010), is a professor of criminology and human rights at Florida StateUniversity. GermanJewishpolitical theoristHannahArendt (abovein1954)wasreviled bymanyJewishintellectuals forher1963bookon Eichmann.Itsinsightsinto the“banalityofevil”aremuch morewidelyacceptedtoday. AP PHOTO Politics_2.qxd:Politics 10/12/10 1:26 PM Page 11 denounced by a librarian as anti-state propaganda, precipitating Arendt’s arrest and eight days of police detention, after which she immediately entered exile, slipping into Bohemia and making her way to France. Arendt’s Solidarity with the Jewish People In Paris Arendt worked tirelessly for Zionist organizations, principally Youth Aliyah, which rescued Jewish young people from Europe, preparing them to emigrate to Palestine as agricultural workers. Caring for these penniless youths entailed feeding and clothing them, providing instructors and social workers, dealing with the parents whom the youth would leave behind, dealing with legal documents, and above all raising money to keep the whole operation afloat. In New York, after the fall of France, she became Senior Editor at Schocken Press, the largest publisher of Judaica and Jewish-themed books in the world. She emergedquickly as arespectedfigureinNew Yorkliterary, cultural, andprogressive circles.HerfirstpublishedessaysreflectsolidaritywiththeJewishpeople,callingfor the creation of a Jewish Army to join the armies of the world in confronting Hitler, warning Jews that a people that “does not have a place in the war, will not have a place in the peace.” After the publication of Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt became an internationally prominent public intellectual. WhenshereturnedtoGermanyforthefirsttimeafterthewar,in1950,itwasas researchdirectoroftheInternationalCommissionfortheCulturalReconstruction of European Jewry. In this capacity she assumed responsibility for one and a half million objects, books, and artifacts of Judaica held by Allied authorities as “abandoned property.” She arranged for Torahs, prayer books, artwork, menorahs, and otherobjectsassociatedwithJewishreligiouspracticetobereturnedwheneverpossibleto rightful owners; when that could not be determined, she arranged to have some objects sent to places where they might be protected or preserved, distributing...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2164-0041
Print ISSN
0887-9982
Pages
pp. 11-14
Launched on MUSE
2016-07-06
Open Access
No
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