discrimination experienced by Israeli Palestinians remains. Over the
long term, the superior Palestinian birth rate, 25 and the growing political
consciousness of the Palestinian population harbingers the likelihood of
increasing demands for social equality, and a potential constitutional
crisis for an Israeli society that struggles to balance its egalitarian
democratic principles with a predominantly Jewishidentity
Jewishidentity transcended national boundaries, and that Jews were
prominent in both communism and capitalism, was another reason to fear and
The leader and the elite
All versions of fascism despise
democracy and communism for their emphasis on equality. Fascists believe
that inequality of individuals, as well as of peoples, is a plain fact of
nature. Political systems should take account of
value on their Jewishidentity and saw themselves only as good liberals or good
socialists. Some created new hybrid identities out of the encounter between
Germans and Jews. And some, including Arendt herself, refused to discard their
particularity as Jews in order to be accepted as universal human beings.
If we are to recover the force of Arendt's argument, we have more
work to do. We need to make a distinction Arendt generally did not observe: that
At a conference on ‘JewishIdentities and American Writing’, hosted by the Rothermere American Institute in 2001, Howard Jacobson gave a talk (which has never been published) in which he subjected the celebrated opening lines of Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March (1953) to a close reading that, he claimed, exposed its grammatical confusion and intellectual imprecision. He went on to juxtapose a sex scene from Philip Roth’s The Dying Animal (2001) with one from his own novel No More Mr Nice Guy , in order to demonstrate the alleged superiority of
embedded within political institutions and society. Along with this, the dominance of
Judaism, as both formal and normative structure, plays a prominent role in the regulation
of life across the state, politically and culturally. Formal and normative structures have
collapsed into one another, changing the characteristics of the Israeli state, where
structural violence along Jewish lines becomes a defining part of relations between Jews
and non-Jewishidentity groups across both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
From the cradle to the grave and
seeking, and then gaining, a homeland, one of the main features of Hebrew
nationalism was the covenantal culture it created – a special relationship or
series of agreements made between a people and their deity. Much of Zionism,
and indeed nationalism in general, revolved around the concept of status
reversal, or Covenant, the promise of deliverance in the midst of hardship. The
Covenant was absolutely central to Jewishidentity, in particular the concept
of ‘chosenness’, according to the historian Donald Harman Akenson.6 The
Zionist writer Martin Buber
The ‘defending democracy’ in Israel – a framework of analysis
Zionist national movement which, like other national movements, worked to instil among its future citizens a (Jewish) national worldview. The values and principles of the Israeli ‘ethnic democracy’ are intended to perpetuate the Jewish community’s uniqueness, its legitimate control over the country and its role as a centralised state in charge of the education system and its various sectors. This approach laid the grounds for reinforcing Jewishidentity among most pupils of the State’s schools and creating the affinity between the Jewish and Israeli national identity
could only be disrupted by the persistence of a distinct and harmful Jewishidentity. The apprehension they expressed is that the homogenising sense of
national identity into which liberalism was drawn was moving inexorably in racist
and antisemitic directions. Lurking within the liberal tradition, Horkheimer and
Adorno discerned a potential for prejudice and persecution which found expression
in the exclusion of Jews from the national community: ‘The harmony of
, Serbia’s Secret War: Propaganda and the Deceit of History (College Station,
TX: Texas A & M University Press, 1996) p. 117.
52 Ibid. p. 199.
53 Laslo Sekelj, ‘Antisemitism and JewishIdentity in Serbia After the 1991 Collapse of the
Yugoslav State’, in Analysis of Current Trends in Antisemitism, 1997 acta no. 12
(Jerusalem: The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism/
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1997) p. 1.
54 Florence Hamish Levinsohn, Belgrade: Among the Serbs (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1994)
55 Ibid. p. 251.
56 Quoted in Yelen
construction of an undiluted Jewishidentity for Israel (Gerner 1991: 50–6, 59, 62–3; Peri 1988: 44; Sela 1998: 40–1; Smith 1996: 142).
The sub-state communal conflict of Palestinian and Jew had now been transformed into an inter-state conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours (Gerner 1991: 49). The Arab states rejected peace with Israel. In Arab eyes, Israel was no ordinary state but an extension of the West, a bridgehead of world Jewry rejecting assimilation into the area, and which, seeking to incorporate Jews from around the world and with