J. Hanssen, Reading Hannah Arendt in the Middle East
Reading Hannah Arendt in the Middle East:
Preliminary Observations on
Totalitarianism, Revolution and Dissent
In one of his regular columns for the literary magazine Salmagundi, the cultural historian Martin Jay once counted Hannah Arendt among a select few thinkers whose elusive intellectual aura is frequently invoked to legitimize and delegitimize political or philosophical positions in European public discourse.1 Triumphant cold war hawks have hailed Arendt as a defender of the Western canon from Plato to NATO and as an intellectual phalanx in the battle against Soviet totalitarianism. The New Left and post-colonial thinkers, by contrast, validated their critique of bullish liberalism drawing on her search for subterranean formations of political freedom, on her early elaborations of anti-imperialism, her theorizing of the spontaneous revolutionary uprising in Hungary, and on her anarchist formulation of the intellectual pariah as a strategic location of power. Arendt was also very much an outcast who was often belittled by the male liberal establishment. For example, Oxford philosopher Isaiah Berlin scoffed at her in an interview with shortly before his death: "the lady … produces no arguments, no evidence, of serious philosophical or historical thought. It is all a stream of metaphysical free association."2
The point of this essay is not to defend her against these and other blatant misogynist attacks. Rather, what interests me here is when, and how, which of Arendt's work has been invoked in the Middle East; why some intellectual circles celebrated her and while others ignored or vilified her. I argue that mobilizing Hannah Arendt – often for conflicting causes – says a great deal about wider intellectual developments in the Middle East over the past half century.
Between the disenchantment with radical Arab politics and the rise of militant Islamism in the 1970s to the suicide attacks on New York on September 11, 2001, many leftist Arab intellectuals made peace with American hegemony. In the words of the Arab intellectual who most self-identifies with her, there occurred a wide-spread political conversion to Arendt when "the old tools of thinking about politics were no longer working."3 Israelis, Palestinians and Jews with a different sense of conceptual impasse have also recently returned to Arendt's early writings on binationalism. Though marginal at the time, these texts from the 1940s now serve as a potent validation for imagining an alternative to the flawed two-state solution.
Studying Arendt during the Lebanese Civil War
I will start with a story. After all, story-telling is for Hannah Arendt what keeps the promise of politics alive. In the spring of 1983, the Philosophy Department of the American University of Beirut offered a graduate course on "Contemporary Philosophical Reflections on the Use of Political Violence." It was most certainly the first course dedicated to the work of Hannah Arendt at AUB. What did the six graduates who took the course make of this Jewish, German, American political theorist of death and natality amidst the ruins of the three-month long Israeli siege of West Beirut, and in the aftermath of the slaughter of hundreds of Palestinian women and children in the camps of Sabra and Shatila? What did they find in Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), The Human Condition (1958), Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963) and On Violence (1970), the textbooks of the course, for which it was worth defying death and interrupting personal grief? Conversely, what committed the young American professor, Vince Dolan, to teaching and staying in West Beirut during these terrible war years? In the course syllabus he reminded his students of Jürgen Habermas's evaluation of Arendt's project “as an attempt to explain why modernization follows a very selective pattern that neither encourages the development of free institutions in either the private or the public sphere, nor protects these spheres from the dynamic of alienation endemic to the economic and administrative systems of action.”4
Dolan tailored the course to problematize how "her concept of political power radically distinguishes power from violence," by bringing into conversation Arendt's work with Karl Popper's The Open Society and its Enemies (1945) and Theodor W. Adorno's and Max Horkheimer's Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944 & 1947).5 Both are key texts dealing with the philosophical and sociological origins of 20th-century totalitarianism. Popper's is a liberal indictment of the Western canon, which he viewed as subject to an in-built cult of collectivism from Plato to Hegel and Marx that sowed the seeds of totalitarian thought. Adorno's and Horkheimer's foundational text in Critical Theory and the New Left, by contrast, located the potential for totalitarianism not in collective revolutions but rather in the "myth" of individualism and liberalism. The cultural underpinnings of the capitalist system, they argued, have led to totalitarianism and continue to erode humanity.6 Operating in between these positions, Arendt argued that the global historical novelties of bureaucratic racism, "expansion for expansion's sake," and mass society "crystallized" – she often borrowed Walter Benjamin's analytical terms – in Nazi Germany, and destroyed all limits of the humanly possible and everything the western canon stood for.
Hannah Arendt's contributions are notoriously inconsistent, but Dolan treated her work as holding an original position between these two poles of the debates on totalitarianism, power, violence and revolution. In her key contributions, she recuperated the canon that Popper had assaulted because she felt that forgetting means repeating mistakes in the maelstrom of modernity. This idea of critically appropriating rather than dismissing the Western canon is, of course, a hallmark of Edward Said's contrapuntal method. It also found a receptive audience in Dolan's AUB classroom.
Dolan had arrived in Beirut in January 1980 having written his doctoral thesis on Kantian philosophy at the Free University of Berlin with Margerita von Brentano. When I interviewed him in Toronto in the summer of 2010, he recalled the fraternity of survival and the steadfast desire to start anew at AUB. Going to class appeared to him to be an act of defying the closure imposed by the violence of the world all around. Even though students seemed locked in a never-ending present, they wanted to get prepared for the future. The last sentence of Arendt's preface to The Origins of Totalitarianism may have helped the students cope with the moral collapse of Lebanon and Arab politics:
"We can no longer afford to take that which was good in the past and simply call it our heritage; to discard the bad and simply think of it as a dead load which by itself time will bury in oblivion. … This is why all efforts to escape from the grimness of the present into a nostalgia of a still intact past or into the anticipated oblivion of a better future are vain."7
Mobilizing The Origins of Totalitarianism
The Origins of
Totalitarianism came out sixty
years ago. Its broad sweep and historical linkages continue to
impress. Acolytes and detractors of Arendt's work alike share the
assessment of Şeyla Benhabib, one of her most respected
commentators today, that "[d]espite its many flaws, The
Origins of Totalitarianism is no
doubt a work of continuing brilliance and relevance."8 Arendt
forcefully argued that totalitarianism was an entirely new form of
government. In order to understand how it became conceivable as such,
she investigated how antisemitism and imperialism (e)merged in the
nineteenth century. Antisemitism was not to be confused with
traditional European Jew hatred. It was rather, a new phenomenon that
converged with imperialism's evolving race-thinking.
These parts of The Origins are still radical in two ways: first, she presented Jews not only as victims of modern history but also (mainly through its 'assimilated' political and business elites) as embroiled in European imperial projects. Second, her idea of the boomerang effect of imperialism anticipated one of the most powerful mantras of the anticolonial movements, namely the idea (first developed by Aimé Césaire and Léopold Senghor) that fascism was imperialism brought home to Europe. This was an ironic elective affinity between the two founders of négritude and a Jewish thinker who, late in life, advocated segregated education and became a nemesis of Black Studies in the US.9 Her overall intellectual project to save Atlantic civilization from self-destruction and her down-playing of the European genocide in the Americas have rightly been criticized by postcolonial thinkers even though many continue to invoke her rhetorically.10
Similar frictions exist in The Origins' focus on white South Africa as a major source of the convergence of racism and bureaucracy. Her critique was prescient of the apartheid system before its institutionalization in 1948 and remained radical thereafter. Yet she neither considered black Africans full agents in their history, nor did she separate clearly enough the patronizing language and attitude of the Europeans from her own analysis to avoid charges of racism herself.11
Arendt did not offer a definition of totalitarianism in The Origins. Instead she merely listed phenomenological elements. She did make explicit distinctions between totalitarianism as an ideology, a movement and a form of rule. And she insisted that only two forms of totalitarianism existed in history: Nazi Germany and Stalinist Soviet Union. In other words, neither Mussolini's Italy nor Mao's China qualified as totalitarianism in strictly Arendtian terms; nor, as she insisted later in life, Lenin whom she nevertheless blamed for the destruction of the soviets and the possibility of an alternative, non-party politics of council democracy.12
Her warnings that there is no guarantee that totalitarianism will not reappear in new guises has made The Origins popular among critics of the Vietnam War, cold war warriors and post-cold war fear-mongers alike. Chaimberlain's disastrous misreading of Hitler's objectives in 1938 still traumatizes Western policy makers. The irony of Arendt's book is that the Burden of Our Time – as the book was aptly titled in the British edition – is no longer the historical reality of totalitarianism itself but rather the hyperbolic use of totalitarianism as an analytical paradigm. This is what has led Giorgio Agamben to wonder if radical politics was still possible in the interpretative shadow of totalitarianism. In a similar vein, Slavoj Zizek has opined that Arendt's account of totalitarianism has helped naturalize liberal democracy as the only viable political system and that her recent popularity in leftist circles signals a general abdication to liberal epistemology.13 It is because of the undue expansion and exportation of the paradigm of totalitarianism that Marxists and liberals like the late Fred Halliday or Michael Ignatieff have made peace with imperialism as the lesser evil of some putative resurfacing fascism when it comes to the Middle East.14 Christopher Hitchens sums up this limited logic with characteristic clarity: "this ongoing polemic takes place between the anti-imperialist left and the anti-totalitarian left. In one shape or another, I have been involved – on both sides of it – all my life. And, in the case of any conflict, I have increasingly resolved it on the anti-totalitarian side."15
In her introduction to the 2004 edition of The Origins of Totalitarianism, Samantha Power reminds us that Arendt knew that counter-terrorism could be as dangerous as terrorism. Though cautious, even Power misses Arendt's nuances when she asserts that in the practices and "the cloak of mystery that shrouds al-Qaida, Hamas, or Islamic Jihad … one might well find some of the qualities that Arendt associated with totalitarian movements."16 Even if these three militant Islamist groups share some ideological and tactical similarities they meet few of Arendt's 'qualities' of totalitarian movements: Hamas, for example, is neither "rootless" nor in "neglect of national interest." Here as elsewhere in the liberal policy establishment of the West, totalitarianism is less of an analytical category than a symptom of the ghost of Chamberlain and a license for secret rendition and extrajudicial killings.
A much more glaring example of the abuses of Arendtian phenomenology of totalitarianism is Bassam Tibi's almost comical recent work. In his The New Totalitarianism: Holy War and Western Security, he throws overboard all caution and claims that Islamism is the new totalitarianism. Just how far Tibi takes this absurd misappropriation of Arendt becomes clear when he claims that Yusuf Qardawi has "a totalitarian agenda," the tepid Tareq Ramadhan promotes "jihad as a permanent Islamic world revolution" by virtue of his genealogical association with the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood; and finally, Tayep Erdoğan's AK Partisi is portrayed as driven by a "covert totalitarian ideology."17
To be sure, Arendt would not have tolerated a politics based on a mixture of legalistic and violent interpretation of religion. But her critique would not require emotional hyperbole. She distinguished between violence as an instrument that multiplies the strength of the few against the power of the many on the one hand, and terror – which "is not the same as violence" – on the other. Terror "is rather the form of government that comes into being when violence, having destroyed all power, does not abdicate but, on the contrary, remains in full control." Suicide squads, for example, even if they are terrorists, "can hardly be counted among [totalitarian] political organizations … for the simple reason that no human relationship is more transitory than this kind of brotherhood."18
Arendt warned against the overuse of the notion of totalitarianism and called for analytical nuance. Liberals and conservatives "overlook the differences in principle between the restriction of freedom in authoritarian regimes, the abolition of political freedom in tyrannies and dictatorships, and the total elimination of spontaneity itself, that is, of the most general and most elementary manifestation of human freedom."19 The inflation of the term totalitarianism as a political tool for regime change has had devastating consequences for the Middle East after 9/11. But Hannah Arendt remains pertinent to the discourse of political processes in the modern Middle East beyond interventionist readings of her work in the West. Not least in the case of Iran that I will turn to now.
Reading Hannah Arendt in Tehran
Twenty-five years after Vince Dolan taught his Arendt course at AUB, the Iranian Institute of Philosophy in Tehran offered a graduate course on Hannah Arendt. It was taught by Norma Moruzzi, an American visiting professor in the spring of 2007.20 Whereas civil-war violence Beirut occurred in the context of lawlessness and anarchy, Tehran during the presidency of Ahmadinejad suffered the terror of theocratic law enforcement. Moruzzi's students read many of the same texts as Dolan's class at AUB: The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, Eichmann in Jerusalem, and On Violence.
Moruzzi admits that "she was not prepared for the intensity of [her] students' response" to The Human Condition, a book she had considered "the least controversial" and the most idealistic of Arendt's work. The Human Condition (or Vita Activa) is in many ways the precursor to public-space liberalism associated with Jürgen Habermas. Following the doom-and-gloom of The Origins, here Arendt sought and found intellectual refuge in philosophy. This return to her academic roots – having written a Ph.D. thesis on the concept of love in St. Augustine in the Weimar years –produced an entirely different, much more optimistic cadence of writing.
If it had been Arendt's
definition of freedom as the ability to start anew that attracted the
AUB graduates to The Human Condition,
the students in Tehran were upset at the book's idea that politics
should be merely about the ability to communicate and persuade by
speech. They had just witnessed the futility of Khatami's reformism
to challenge the totalitarian elements of the state. "They did
not romanticize violence but they longed for the drama and immediacy
of street politics … for a theory of uprising," Moruzzi
When the Iranian regime rigged the presidential elections in June 2009, students like Moruzzi's poured onto the streets of Tehran in non-violent protests against Ahmadinejad and his conservative clerical allies much like Arendt had taught them. This popular protest was crushed as brutally as the Hungarian revolution that so impressed Arendt.21 Nevertheless, spontaneous and popular uprising like these, Arendt reminded us, tend to leave a historical record to inspire future generations.
So, what was the wider influence of Arendt on revolutionary Iran? Hannah Arendt's work was first translated into Persian in the aftermath of the Islamic revolution of 1979 and during the perilous early years of Iraq's attack on Iran. In 1980 On Violence was released by Kharazmi Publishers, followed two years later by On Revolution.22 In 1984 Javidan Publishers put out a translation of The Origins of Totalitarianism.23 It was translations like these that began to have an impact on dissident politics in Iran in the 1990s.
The story of Akbar Ganji may be representative. At the age of 19 he was an ardent revolutionary in the notorious Pasdaran guards. But when he read the Farsi translation of On Violence and On Revolution he decided that "revolutions are just that, violent and oppressive, they can never lead to freedom" on their own.24 He became an investigative journalist and in the 1990s he landed in prison for exposing torture and killings in Evin prison. He practiced Arendtian non-violent civil disobedience through two internationally-covered hunger strikes, and repeatedly called for election boycotts. He was forced out of Iran before the contested June 2009 elections and now lives in exile.
The secular Iranian intellectual who perhaps most explicitly draws on Hannah Arendt's work is Ramin Jahanbegloo. Now in exile at the University of Toronto, Jahanbegloo is a Sorbonne-trained liberal thinker and civil society activist who was instrumental in inviting many international scholars to speak in Iran, e.g. Habermas, Rorty and Riceur, during the Khatami presidency. In an interview two months before his arrest in 2006, he claimed that there is great "renaissance of liberalism" in contemporary Iran. To him as to many advocates of the Iranian "Sonderweg", the value of the Islamic Republic lies in the fact that it allowed Islamic and Marxist ideologies to run their courses and fail. This failure has opened the door for what Jahanbegloo considers post-ideological politics. It is in this context that "Arendt's contribution to political thinking finds an important place in Iranian civil society."25
When Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism was translated into Persian, he continues, "many Iranians had no idea … what a totalitarian state was... Actually, for a long time the Iranian Left dismissed the claim that communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were a form of totalitarianism." He claims that "many have experienced in Iran what Arendt describes in The Origins as 'the anti-political principle.' Her work helped us understand that thinking is an on-going process which reclaims our capacity for action." "Reading Arendt in Tehran reminds us continuously of the fact that freedom is 'the ability to begin', and therefore civil society is a domain where people, in their collective plurality, remember who they are."26
Jahanbegloo's liberal vision of Iran is ennobling. But it raises serious questions about whether liberal democracy is indeed post-ideological, or whether Arendt actually saw her critique of ideology as a plea for liberal democracy. As we will see in the next section, her critique of all forms of fixed and premeditated political convictions – liberal or illiberal – followed from her ideal-type of political freedom that she saw articulated in the Hungarian revolutionary councils in 1956. Moreover, Arendt was wary of the dictates of capitalism that went hand in glove with liberalism and corrupted revolutions even as "purely political" as the American. As she put it in 1963, the American Dream's "fatal passion for sudden riches" and the "endless consumption … stood in the way of the founders of the republic."27
Arendt in the work of Arab Intellectuals
In an e-mail correspondence I recently had with Sadik al-ʿAzm about the presence of Arendt in contemporary Arab thought, the veteran Syrian philosopher did not recall any systematic Arab engagement with Arendt and suggested that when she was at the height of her intellectual influence on both sides of the North Atlantic, "she was crowded out by French Existentialism & Marxism" in the Arab world.28 But he concluded on what appears as an upbeat note saying that "since then the Arab intellectual climate has probably become much more hospitable to her kind of thoughts and approaches." What follows below is a preliminary assessment of al-ʿAzm's hypotheses about Arendt's Arab currency past and present.
Cursory research in Arabic online catalogues reveals that currently no Arabic translations of Hannah Arendt's work are in print and that very few older ones are available in libraries in the Arab world. Online, the most widely circulated Arendt translation is On Revolution by Atallah Wahhab of 2006. However, the first Arabic Arendt translation, ironically also a translation of On Revolution preceded Persian, Hebrew and Turkish translations by decades.29 The Arab intellectual encounter with Arendt began with Khayri Hammad's translation Ra’y fi-l-thawra of 1964.30 Hammad's extensive footnotes turn the book into a virtual conversation between two ideologically opposed thinkers at a shared moment in world history. The near simultaneity of both publications also suggests the sense of urgent relevance the book may have had in Nasser's Cairo.31
Hammad reveals little about the commission of the work other than that this translation was intended as part of the series kutub siyasiyya in which "we translate into Arabic key theoretical books from around the world that delve into the treasures of history and the depth of human experience, however great our disagreements with the content might be." Even though throughout the text he voiced his disapproval of her uncritical view of the West in general and the United States in particular, Hammad was impressed by what he considered Arendt's fair, subtle and meticulous treatment of revolutions. He credits the book with the rare gift of bridging the "deep divide between the traditional bourgeois and the progressive socialist world." For there is, he continues, "nothing that links them except a small isthmus of liberal thought … in the new sense of liberalism of being free of the shackles of dogmatism whether on the right or the left."32
Both Arendt and Hammad abhored – for different reasons – reducing liberalism to economics, and both believe in the positive potential of revolution, but from diametrically opposed positions. Her preceding two works, The Human Condition and Between Past and Future had recovered the political thought of the Greek and Roman traditions for modern philosophy. In On Revolution, Arendt recuperated and redeemed freedom and revolution. Both ideals had been unduly discredited in the illiberal age of the mid-20th century: freedom had become a rouse for imperialism and capitalist domination while revolution was viewed as the reckless domain of military plotters and irresponsible radicals. Liberal and social democracy as well as Marxism were counter-revolutionary in their fear of the radical possibility to establish a political space of public freedom in which people as free and equal citizens would take their common concerns into their own hands.33 A couple of years after Frantz Fanon had famously warned against post-revolutionary atrophy in The Wretched of the Earth, Arendt also expressed her worry about the way all party systems betray the spontaneous outpouring of political freedom during a revolution.
Recent scholarship on political theory has identified the link between empire in the historical formation of liberalism.34 Khayri Hammad's translation anticipated these postcolonial critiques and represents the wider intellectual mood during the historical moment of the Third World.35 In dozens of footnotes, Hammad criticised Arendt's "biases and blindspots." He argued that Arendt's comparison between the American foundational myth of "lovely equality" and the violent excesses of the French Revolution fails on two accounts. First, it is hardly accurate to talk of equality "in a country where banking houses and oil barons rule."36 Second, he questions the notion that the American Republic flourished because it provided material gains whereas the French Republic failed because it did not alleviate poverty in spite of all its proclamations.37
Hammad defended the achievements and indeed "necessity" of socialism. Not only have "socialist countries been effective in combatting poverty" but in the Third World, where white minorities have ruled since the onslaught of colonialism, the time for indigenous majority rule had come.38 Hammad expressed the gulf of experience that separates the post-colonial world from post-totalitarian Europe. Hannah Arendt wrote as a minority victim of the violent passions of majority rule. Khayri Hammad's comments represented the hope that after decades of minority rule by colonial and local elites, a revolutionary Egypt would finally emancipate the oppressed majorities of the population in the wider Arab world.39
Arendt's false universalization of European history was symptomatic, noted Hammad, of a wider Western inability to reflect on its limits and responsibilities. When she talked of the dark ages "between the fall of the Roman Empire and the European Renaissance in the 15th century, she … needed to state explicitly that she meant only Europe. At the time, Arab civilization was at its height [and] Arabs knew the meaning of political freedom very well. They applied it at various times in their history, not least in their council system, and the accountability forced upon the califs and rulers."40
Hammad was also very sensitive about Arendt's total disregard for the plight of the black and native populations in North America:
"The author is trying to excuse white settler colonialism in North America regarding the horrific crimes whites committed against the indigenous populations. She says they were acts of individuals although in reality they were the collective deeds carried out by white settler groups who denied their rights. I only need to point to the stories and films that celebrate white settler colonialism in the New World as the spread of civilization."41
As a displaced Palestinian and a prolific translator of English-language history books, Khayri Hammad was in a position both to empathize with the victims of the American genocide and articulate the injustice committed against fellow indigenous populations. Thus he muses on Arendt's fascination with the Mayflower Compact: "It is a strange phenomenon in all American writing: They talk about their land as if it was empty and not inhabited by indigenous peoples."42
A decade after Hammad's translation another Palestinian revisited Arendt. ʿAbd al-Rahman Bushnaq translated Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought in 1974. Bushnaq had a very similar biographical journey as Hammad, and both shared education that socialized them, like so many of their peers in the colonized world, as both culturally anglophile and politically anti-British. Bushnaq was born near Tulkaram in 1913, was educated at the Arab College in Jerusalem before pursuing an undergraduate degree at AUB in literature. He then went to Cambridge where he graduated with an MA in literature in 1937. He returned to Palestine to teach English literature at his alma mater before becoming editor of the journal al-Muntada. After the Nakba he fled to London where he worked at the Arabic desk of the BBC with many other Palestinian refugees. In 1954, he settled in Amman to work for the Arab Bank. From the early 1960s, Bushnaq worked in various high-ranking capacities in the education sector of the Jordanian state.43
Bushnaq's Bayn al-madhi wa-l-mustaqbal is a straight translation without any introduction or additional footnotes. Its value for our purposes, then, lies in the few glimpses into the origins of the project that the book's cover and first pages reveal. Unlike Hammad's independent and critical translation of On Revolution, Bushnaq's was "an authorized translation."44 The flap discloses that it "was published with the cooperation of the [Benjamin] Franklin Foundation, Cairo – New York." Dr. Zakariyya Ibrahim, a Sorbonne-trained professor of critical philosophy at Cairo University, served as the supervisor of the translation project.
One of the eight essays that constitute Between Past and Future is particularly relevant for our purpose of reading Arendt in the Middle East. In "What is Authority?" Arendt offers the definition of totalitarianism that had been so elusive in The Origins. She makes a three-way distinction between the "pyramid-like" structure of authoritarianism, tyranny – "the wolf in human shape" – and "onion"-shaped totalitarianism. Authoritarianism is a type of "government structure whose seat of power is located at the top from which authority and power is filtered down to the base in such a way that each successive layer possesses some authority but less than the one above."45 We may think of recently toppled regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. In tyranny, by contrast, "it is as if all the contiguous layers of the pyramid were destroyed, so that the top remains suspended by the proverbial bayonets, over a mass of carefully isolated, disintegrated, and completely equal individuals."46 Gadhafi's Libya springs to mind. Unlike authoritarianism and tyranny, argues Arendt "the proper image of totalitarian rule and organization seems to me to be the structure of the onion, in whose center, in a kind of empty space, the leader is located; whatever he does – whether he integrates the body politic as in an authoritarian hierarchy, or oppresses his subjects like a tyrant – he does it from within, and not from without or from above." The elements of Nazi Gleichschaltung, i.e. the complete homogenization and atomization of life and society, are related in such a way that each forms the façade in one direction and the centre in the other, that is, plays the role of normal outside world for one layer and the role of radical extremism for another.47
Whether we agree with her typology or not, we can hold those authors who have invoked it up to her own standards. The next section interrogates whether, as Kanan Makiya argued so passionately and influentially, Saddam Hussein's Iraq counts as a totalitarian form of authority and what function the label served.
Arendt and the US Invasion of Iraq
The Marxist engineer-turned-neo-conservative political advisor Kanan Makiya is credited with being the first Arab author who has applied Arendt's phenomenology of totalitarianism to Baathist Iraq. His Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq (1989) stands as an important monument for Hannah Arendt's presence in the Middle East. The book argues that since the second Baathist Coup in 1968 and in particular since Saddam Hussein's presidency in 1979, Iraq slid into totalitarian rule. In his footnotes, Makiya occasionally references Arendt's The Origins, On Violence and "What is Authority?" Makiya's book traces Iraq's descent during these years from an authoritarian to a totalitarian regime, or in Arendt's political metaphors, from the pyramid to the onion. He faithfully applies Arendtian registers:
"Tyrannies and dictatorships resort to violence when their authority is placed in jeopardy. But for the Baʿth, violence is no longer merely the ultimate sanction used periodically against a genuine opposition. The Baʿth invent their enemies; violence – not the threat of it – is institutionalized, forever reproducing and intensifying that all-pervasive climate of suspicion, fear, and complicity… Fear which under other conditions can tear authority asunder…, drove authority in Iraq to collapse inwards, into the bottomless black hole of absolutist [sic] leadership."48
Makiya identifies all the main aspects that make a state totalitarian. Even before the start of the Iraq-Iran war, "one-fifth of the economically active Iraqi labour force (about 3.4 million people) were institutionally charged … with one form or another of violence."49 By the 1980s, Saddam Hussein had created a society where children spied on their parents, where conspiracy was policy and were the secret police instilled paranoia. Like in Hitler Germany in Arendt's account, classes were replaced by masses amidst the militarization of society. A leader cult stifled all cultural activity and the arts degenerated into hyper-masculine personality worship. Even Moscow-style show-trials were abandoned for anonymous internal purges.
The first part of Makiya's book is a thorough documentation of the excesses of Saddam Hussein's regime. And Arendt's work helps him frame it analytically as totalitarian rule. But his analysis falters when he locates the root causes for totalitarianism in Iraqi society's antisemitism and in Arab intellectuals' support for Saddam Hussein. Makiya gestures at Iraqi anti-Semitism after 1967 in an attempt to follow Arendt's script. No credible evidence has emerged so far that the regime succeeded at inculcating Iraqi society with such antisemitic propaganda as Makiya recorded on Iraqi state media and as was characteristic of Nazi Germany.50 Moreover, by portraying the Arab left as front organizations which normalized Iraqi totalitarian rule, Makiya perverts Arendt's profound argument that European racist discourses and genocidal practices were imported by Central-European pan-movements. In Makiya's logic, anti-imperialism, pan-Arabism and third-world nationalism assume the role and function that Arendt had ascribed to imperialism and the pan-movements.51
It is not necessarily unethical to use scholarship in support of an oppressed people. The Republic of Fear was a desperate attempt to show that the US's Iraqi proxy was as bad as its enemy Iran. However, this attack on leftist intellectuals for apparently aiding and abetting both Saddam Hussein's and Khomeini's atrocities has little to do with The Origins but all with delegitimizing one's own opponents.52 One is reminded of Arendt's distinction between "ex-communists" who – like Makiya – make a new living out of their political conversion and "former communists" who do not seek personal, professional or political gain by it.53
The eight long years of war between Iraq and Iran were not, of course, nourished by Arab intellectuals but by the American "roll-back" strategy of the late Cold War. When direct military intervention ended in the fiasco of Vietnam, the US looked for reliable partners in covert, low-intensity, proxy warfare. This shift signalled what Arendt called The Crises of the Republic, i.e. the invention of enemies and institutionalized lying in American foreign policy.54 It was one of the most respected neo-conservatives, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who articulated this strategy in 1980. Drawing opposite conclusions from the Vietnam War as Arendt, US ambassador Kirkpatrick advocated the distinction between left-wing dictatorships which she labeled as "totalitarian" and which required regime change, and right-wing dictatorship whose "authoritarianism" should receive military, financial, ideological and logistical support.55 The Republic of Fear echoed such Reaganite policy: "Like all varieties of nationalism, some antiimperialisms, and nowadays Islamic fundamentalism, Third Worldism, which embraces them all, is totally disinterested in, if not actually hostile to, broader considerations of the human condition."56
Makiya's focus on totalitarian elements of the Baathist regime obscures the ways in which the US used Bonapartist regimes like Iraq to weaken and destroy popular governments, defend geopolitical interests, and gain access to oil in exchange for weapons, conventional as well as chemical.57 His analysis downplays how the war of the 1980s also 'tribalized' political authority and forced Saddam Hussein to rely on family and clan ties.58 By the time the US broke with Saddam Hussein over Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Saddam's rule can be said to have 'reverted' to the "pyramidical power structure" of authoritarianism. It was this type of rule that helped the regime to survive the sanctions' genocidal effects on the Iraqi population.59 To many Arendt scholars, the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 has exposed the moral bankruptcy of using totalitarianism as a political tool for regime change. On the one hand, the general erosion of human life and international law and during the war on terror requires us to retain totalitarianism as a qualified analytical category.60 On the other, the specific case of Iraq calls for an important analytical qualification of the term.
Hazem Saghieh – like Makiya a lapsed Trotzkist who has had comrades killed at the hands of Hussein's henchmen – has wondered in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq if it would matter at all in the evaluation of Stalinism and Nazism whether Hitler had a brother or Stalin a cousin the way it does in Iraq. In the case of Iraq the totalitarian regime is so closely identified with "the names of his sons, brothers and cousins … that any account of the Baathist model is unfathomable" without them. With this polemical question, Saghieh raises the important issue about "the role of kinship and blood ties as the most important difference between European and non-European totalitarian regimes."61
Based on extensive research in his native Iraq, Faleh A. Jabar is trying to answer Saghieh's question. He has started to think about a framework that combines the seemingly antithetical trends in the Middle East between the escalating coercive mechanisms of states on the one hand and the rise of protective solidarities ('sectarianism' or 'tribalism') on the other.62 Drawing on the sociology of Ibn Khaldun, he suggests that in Baathist Iraq there emerged a patrimonial form of totalitarianism in which the only way to promote one's interests and protect oneself from the terror of the state has been in a resurgent tribal sphere:
"Under the Baathist patrimonial-totalitarian regime, the single party system hegemonized, destroyed and absorbed all nascent civil society structures and institutions, such as unions, professional associations, an independent press, chambers of commerce and industrial leagues … the vacuum created by the omnipotent and omnipresent state hegemony activated the role of cultural tribalism (hamoula kinship networks at their core) as defensive shields, conduits of clientele links and safety nets."63
The use of totalitarianism as an analytical category also extends to what the political philosopher, Sheldon Wolin, has called "inverted totalitarianism" in American politics in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq. Wolin, on whose earlier work Arendt had relied in On Violence, argues that the invasion of Iraq has exposed how public life is corporatized, national and social security privatized, social welfare slashed to pay for total war, and the constitution flaunted in order to legalize torture and other rogue state activity.64 Whereas in the Vietnam War, the press prevailed in exposing the lies of politicians, in the 21st century the press embedded itself and abdicated the very role that – according to Arendt – had saved the American Republic.
Hizballah and The Origins of Totalitarianism
The analytics of Iraqi totalitarianism that I have sketched above are a symptom of a wider intellectual disenchantment with programmatic Marxism and the adoption of a more introverted critique than Khayri Hammad and his optimistic generation evinced in the 1960s. The intellectual turn to Khaldunian socio-historical paradigms, exemplified by Kanaan Makiya, Faleh Abd al-Jabar and Hazem Saghiyeh, was part of a general phenomenon among radicals towards a more contemplative mode of criticism. The rediscovery of Arendt's work was a consequence of this shift. The original trigger was the combination of the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon in 1975 and the Solzhenitsyn inspired, anti-totalitarian movement in France.65
According to Fadi Bardawil's ground-breaking research, the first to undertake this intellectual transformation from Marx to Ibn Khaldun was the influential Lebanese sociologist and public intellectual Waddah Charara. Charara was one of the leading ideologues of the small but influential group of independent socialists in Lebanon in the 1960s. Before the civil war he had championed grassroots mobilization against what the radical Arab left considered the fascist Christian and reactionary pan-Arab forces in control of the Lebanese state. He then became a Maoist because he felt that progressive forces were complacent and content to insert themselves into positions of power when they should be challenging the very structure of power in order to liberate the toiling masses. The breakdown of the Lebanese state and meaninglessness of categories like 'the people' and 'the working class' amidst the savagery of sectarian warfare were bitter lessons that, apparently, no amount of ideological positioning could theorize away. A year into the war, Charara abandoned militant Marxism altogether and adopted a Khaldunian, diagnostic approach to understand the social sources of political power in Lebanon.66
Arab ex-Marxists wrought with a similar crisis of philosophical heritage that Arendt, Popper and the Frankfurt School dealt with in post-war Germany: did the German intellectual traditions and their guardians cause the cataclysm, are they responsible, redundant, or redeemable?67 Charara's discovery of the Khaldunian idiom of the mechanics of loyalty and state power set the stage for a growing number of leftists to shift their critical perspective from external and structural to internal and affective factors. The great 14th-century Tunisian philosopher of history was validated as an authentic source of analysis and he changed Charara's and others' perception of history from a materialist to an essentialist interpretive mode.
Charara discovered the writings
of Hannah Arendt in the turmoil of war-torn Beirut. He turned to The
Origins, seeking to understand
sectarian violence and the ensuing collapse of the Lebanese state. In
a fifty-page book review published at the end of the civil war,
Charara summarized faithfully what he considers the main arguments of
In a well-balanced rendering which stuck strictly to the text, he
highlighted issues of state collapse, pan-movements, messianism, mass
man, tribal consciousness, and propaganda.
Grappling with Hannah Arendt's work helped Charara articulate his critique of Hizballah after the war. In his magnum opus, Dawlat Hizballah of 1996, Charara offers a rich, empirical overview of the conditions of political Shiism's emergence out of the uprooted communities of south Lebanon. Charara does not treat The Party of God merely as a creation of its sponsors in Damascus and Tehran. He also rejects the polemical labels Islamo-fascist and terrorist, and acknowledges that it gets popular legitimacy from its struggle against Israeli occupation. Charara's diagnostic gaze is turned inward, however, as he scorns those who fall for Hizballah's logic of military necessity and idealize its deterrent capability against Israel. Hizballah may have abandoned its initial goal of creating an Islamic state in Lebanon by violent or other means. It may appear to have become a powerful but benign sectarian stakeholder defending its constituency's interests. But under the guise of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Charara warns Hizballah actively pursued the establishment of a "counter-society" (al-mujtamaʿ al-naqidh). It created a host of highly centralized networks of military, financial, educational and welfare institutions with embryonic state functions which ultimately work to supplant the institutions of the Lebanese state.68
Hannah Arendt in East Jerusalem
Charara, Makiya, Saghieh all discovered Arendt after their disenchantment with Marxism. Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem: a Report on the Banality of Evil played a formative role in their political register and vocabulary. The way Arendt combined her characterization of Eichmann in court with deep insights into the human condition inspired their own writing. They were shocked by Eichmann's inability to acknowledge his personal responsibility in the systematic genocide of millions of Jews. Like most commentators in the West, they used him as a metaphor for people who follow orders blindly and without guilt.
The late Sudanese novelist Tayyib Salih grappled with less clichéd, more aesthetic and political dimensions of Arendt's Report. In his reading it mattered more that Arendt pointed out the fact that the Holocaust was made conceivable by a total "paralysis of thought" in Nazi Germany. In a series of essays published in 1997, he also placed Eichmann more squarely in Jerusalem.69 Salih had read Eichmann in Jerusalem the year it came out and he starts his essays autobiographically: When he arrived in London as a young and aspiring writer in the 1950s, he found a society that divided the world into good and evil. In a hostile environment, "theatre, especially Shakespeare and Brecht," helped him articulate "that the issue of good and evil is more complicated." As a writer who shared W. H. Auden's appreciation of Arendt, Salih was struck by the way she "combined great audacity with philosophical depth [in a] deceptively simple style full of metaphors and innuendoes."70
As a prominent literary figure committed to socialist humanism, Salih was inspired by her intrepid attempt to understand, on the one hand, "the comprehensive moral collapse in an advanced European country like Germany," and on the other, how skilfully – "reminiscent of Brecht" – she described the way the Israeli government set up the courtroom like a stage. Prime Minister Ben Gurion directed "the great theatrical performance" of the Eichmann trial for a global audience while the protagonist, Attorney General Haussner, "does his best, his very best, to obey his master." Salih detected a "painful irony" in this phrase because "'obeying orders' was the very foundation of Eichmann's defence."71
Salih acknowledged that Arendt travelled to Jerusalem to cover the trial as "as a mental treatment: form the pains that had tormented me for being a Zionist Jew who turned her back on Zionism and Germany." Indeed, during her time in Israel, she felt uneasy both inside and outside the court: Israeli militarism and nationalism revived her apprehensions which, as we shall see below, she had first voiced between the end of the Holocaust and the creation of the state of Israel. The author of Season of Migration to the North was particularly shaken by "the dreadful frankness" with which Arendt dissected what she called "darkest chapter of this whole dark affair," namely the collaboration of Jewish representatives in the deportations and the fact that Jewish prisoners themselves submitted to carrying out executions in the concentration camps.
Arendt's Eichmann book, and her indictment of the Judenräte in it in particular, led to her "excommunication," as the late Amos Elon put it in the 2006 edition.72 Israeli settlers and the Jewish establishment in America campaigned hard to paint her as a self-hating Jew and to discredit her scholarship. This witch hunt produced, as Steven Aschheim observed, a “delicious irony [because] Arendt's critique of Jewish elites and leadership was a direct expression of her post-assimilationist Weimar Zionism."73 When her old friend Gershon Sholem famously accused her of lacking "ahavat Israel, love for the Jewish people", she publicly asked Scholem to explain "since when this term played a role in the Hebrew language and writings," before she tactically conceded "that I cannot have such a 'love,' and this for two reasons: First, I have never loved any people or collective in my life … Indeed, I only love my friends and am totally incapable of any other love. Second, since I am a Jew myself, this love would be suspect to me. I don't love myself and not that which I know to somehow be of my substance."74 The wider rift – Arendt later speaks of Israel's war against her – was so great that she would remark, on the "positive side, … despite everything, I still do not risk … being assassinated by the Mossad."75
When Eyal Sivan released his documentary The Specialist about the Eichmann trial in 2000, it launched an enormous scandal in France and Israel, with Arendt, once more, at the centre. The idea of the film was to render Arendt's Report from the original video footage of the trial that had been excised from the official version. The film documented Eichmann's defence for the first time. It showed the chilling ways in which the man in the glass box rationalized his deeds, expressed personal remorse and self-pity but no sense of guilt before the law at all.76 In fact, he argued innocence on the grounds of un-intentionality. Arendt argued may very well have been the case but thoughtlessness of the kind that totalitarianism incites is genocidal and should not diminish the crime the master organizer of the Holocaust committed.77
The documentary enraged many friends of Israel, including the highly publicized libel case by Alain Finkielkraut, New Philosopher and member of the antitotalitarian movement, who defamed Sivan as a Jewish antisemite. But much to the chagrin of Israel-right-or-wrong intellectuals, appreciation for Hannah Arendt's critique of Zionism blossomed. Significantly, the first Arendt monograph to be translated into Hebrew was the Eichmann book that had caused her "excommunication."78 Published at the same time as Sivan's documentary, this translation marked Arendt's growing popularity among a diminishing number of critical thinkers in Israel. Idith Zertal, who one Israeli academic called "the high priestess of this cult", led the field with provocative studies on the uses of the Holocaust in Israel.79 In an influential article in Representations, also in 2000, she argues that the Eichmann trial marks the end of "organized silence" of the Nazi Holocaust in Israel and beginning of what is known by Norman Finkelstein's crass term "the Holocaust Industry."80
Idith Zertal was attacked by an angry professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University in similar ad feminam fashion as Arendt had been in the 1960s.81 Here was yet another unstable Jewish woman who perverted the Eichmann trial into a demonization of Israel. Another academic in the US with a number of books on the Palestine conflict joined the mud-racking assault on Hannah Arendt. In an article for The Times Literary Supplement, the European historian Bernard Wasserstein accused Arendt of using Nazi sources to reconstruct nineteenth-century Jewish history and of blaming Jews for their Holocaust.82 Such charges and belittlings of Arendt are old hats. They have long, and rightly, been dismissed by serious Arendt scholars. But why should these two professors stoop to the mud-racking tactics of the 1960s now? It appears that the reception of Hannah Arendt has become one of the main intellectual battle lines between critics and defenders of Israel. Elhanan Yakira wrote an entire monograph, published by Oxford University Press no less, to ridicule and dismiss the growing number of Jewish critics of the state of Israel.83 And Bernard Wasserstein added to this assessment in an interview with frontpagemag.com, a slanderous magazine notorious for stifling academic freedom:
"Hannah Arendt is one of those twentieth-century figures, like Edward Said or Michel Foucault, who have acquired absurdly inflated reputations on the basis of work in which lack of intellectual rigor is concealed behind barrage-balloons of overblown rhetoric."84
Hannah Arendt's moral failure is to have emboldened even Palestinian intellectuals like Said to pass unwarranted judgment on Israel. Meir Litvak's and Esther Webman's recent From Empathy to Denial: Arab Responses to the Holocaust is a thorough historical reconstruction of the structural transformations of Arab antisemitism. The authors document the overwhelmingly "empathetic" Arabic coverage of Jewish suffering in Europe up until 1948.85 Around the Eichmann trial, many Arab journalists dismissed the Holocaust with preposterous conspiracy claims, but Litvak and Webman point out that this sympathy for the devil was a minority and no serious Arab intellectual sided with Eichmann. The author's agreed with the findings of a study by three Egyptian scholars whose conclusion preceded Finkelstein and Zertal's work on Israel and the Holocaust by two decades. They found that the Eichmann trial brought about "changes in the relations between Israel and the Diaspora and the place of the Holocaust in Jewish and Israeli identity."86
The authors also rightly criticised Arendt for parroting the Israeli and American propaganda that the Arabs "did not hide their sympathy for Eichmann."87 But it seems disingenuous to criticize Arendt's Report on these grounds alone, given that there is so much else to complain about from a Zionist perspective and given the harsh words the authors have for the next generation of Arab thinkers who invoke Arendt on Israel-Palestine. The real offence of her Report, then, was that it was so widely referenced by Arab scholars, starting with the prolific and complex thinker ʿAbd al-Wahhab al-Massiri.88
At this point of the book the
reader starts to wonder if Arab reception of the Holocaust up to the
Eichmann trial should be reconsidered as a period of
empathy, what outrageous feats of Holocaust denial did subsequent
generations of Arab intellectuals commit?
The latter part of the book (probably written by Webman) seeks to argue that whatever evil rhetoric Arabs spewed at the time of the trial, the current coterie of Arab intellectuals who talk of the need to recognize the Holocaust in order to achieve reconciliation and equal rights between Israelis and Palestinians is far more pernicious:
The recognition of the Holocaust by [Hazim] Saghiya, [Edward] Said, [Elias] Khouri, 'Azmi Bishara and others is instrumental. The persecution of the Jews is acknowledged, but at the same time is linked to the Palestinian tragedy and its acknowledgment by Israel and the West. The comparison between the two, either directly or by inference, involves by definition the minimalization and relativization of the Holocaust.89
At the end of this study one cannot shake off the feeling that "From Empathy to Denial" more aptly describes the authors' inability to recognize the suffering of the Palestinians than the Arabs' recognition of the Holocaust. While the today's leading Arab intellectuals operate in what Michael Rothberg has recently called "multi-directional memory," it is still difficult for most Israeli scholars and intellectuals to accept that – as Edward Said put it – the Palestinians are the victims of the victims of the Holocaust.90
Edward Said, Hannah Arendt and the Binational Idea for Palestine
It is well-known that Foucault provided Said with a formidable methodological foundation with which he exposed the academic, cultural and political practices of Orientalism as a not necessarily intentional web of Western domination over the non-West.91 Said's Wahlverwandtschaft with Arendt, which Wasserstein so lamented, is less direct but palpable in much of his writing. What has attracted Said to Arendt was her pleasures of exile – to borrow George Laming's oxymoronic booktitle – her celebration of worldiness and pariahdom, as well as her reluctant embrace of the Western canon.92 Both shared an understanding of the importance of literature to illuminate imperialism. They had an abiding and conceptual interest in beginnings, or what Arendt called natality. They also shared Fanon's unease with the pitfalls of national consciousness. This unease was the reason Arendt grew disenchanted with Zionism even before the state of Israel was declared and the reason why Said left the Palestinian National Council in 1991.93 Her reaction to the creation of Israel – "humanity cannot survive the day of liberation, cannot survive liberty by five minutes" – echoed in Said's powerful critique of nationalist culture more general:
"Loyalty to one's group for survival cannot draw the intellectual in so much as to narcoticise the critical sense or reduce its imperatives which are always to go beyond survival to questions of political liberation, to critiques of the leadership, to presenting alternatives that are too often marginalized or pushed aside as irrelevant to the main battle at hand."94
In Orientalism, Said drew explicitly on Arendt's identification of Edwardian adventurers in Africa and the Middle East with pre-totalitarian megalomania:
"Hannah Arendt has made the brilliant observation that the counterpart of the bureaucracy is the imperial agent, which is to say that if the collective academic endeavor called Orientalism was a bureaucratic institution based on a certain conservative vision of the Orient, then the servants of such a vision in the Orient were imperial agents like T.E. Lawrence."95
It was in the introduction to his first book on Palestine that Said engaged directly with The Origins. In The Question of Palestine, Said quoted a passage in Arendt's chapter on statelessness that represented, he argued, a rare and early recognition in the West that the creation of the state of Israel has solved the Jewish question "by means of a colonized and then conquered territory." Her quote continues:
"…but this solved neither the problem of minorities nor the stateless. On the contrary, like virtually all other events in our century, the solution of the Jewish question merely produced a new category of refugees, the Arabs, thereby increasing the number of the stateless by another 700.000 to 800.000 people."96
Said was acutely aware of Arendt's own Orientalism in her portrayal of the non-European.97 Palestinian Arabs featured as both a menace and victims in the historical and physical background of Eichmann in Jerusalem. Palestinians were depicted as statisticians and part of the "Arabic-speaking…Levantine mob" off Ben Gurion's stage. At the same time, Arendt criticized that one of the main ideological motives for the trial in Jerusalem was to show the world "the connection between the Nazis and some Arab rulers."98 She could barely contain her Schadenfreude when the court failed to link Haj Amin al-Husayni to Eichmann, and she goaded Ben Gurion to go after the German government, instead.99 Finally, Arendt devoted three pages of her Postscript to the Kafr Qasim massacre in 1955 as "only one example among many to demonstrate the inadequacy of the prevailing legal system and of current juridical concepts to deal with the facts of administrative massacres organized by the state apparatus."100 At the Eichmann hearings, the judges brought up the sentencing of Israeli soldiers who had killed Palestinian families at Kafr Qasim as proof that 'superior orders' was not a valid defence in Israel. Arendt, who then looked into the cold case, contradicted the judges and exposed how Israel exploited crimes like these as emblems of democracy while the perpetrators were, in fact, released soon afterwards.101
Said read Elisabeth Young-Bruehl's Arendt biography when it came out in the aftermath of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. He was writing a follow-up article to The Question of Palestine which, despite the fact that a slew of racist works of Israeli fiction and non-fiction about Palestinians had appeared in Israel and the US, was an attempt at envisaging a future for Palestine beyond the ethnic cleansing paradigms. As was his mantra, he was working towards an integrated historical narrative to challenge the nationalist logic of "forcible separation between Jew and non-Jew … for the sake of separation itself."102
He had considered these as Arendtian ideas, but when he read in the biography that she gave money to the Jewish Defense League during the wars of 1967 and 1973, he was in disbelief:
"Consider Hannah Arendt. For many years she was closely associated with the efforts of Judah Magnes and Martin Buber on behalf of binationalism in Palestine. Although she worked for the emigration of Jews to Palestine before the war, she was always critical of mainstream Zionism, as her collection of essays The Jew as Pariah and her remarks in The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem testify. Yet, in 1967 she donated money to the Jewish Defense League and did so again in 1973. This information – presented by Elisabeth Young-Bruehl in her biography of Arendt without any awareness of the contradictions at work here – is remarkable for someone otherwise so compassionate and reflective on the subject of what Zionism did to Palestinians."103
In the second edition, the biographer acknowledged that she mistook the JDL, which Arendt herself considered fascistic, for the non-Zionist United Jewish Appeal.104 She contacted Said but by that time the article was reprinted in his The Politics of Dispossession and the misinformation spread.
In a late essay, Said returned to Arendt's work in an attempt to formulate an alternative to the Oslo Peace Process and its attendant land-for-peace, two-state solution. In one of the first articulations of a one-state solution in the mainstream media, Said recalled the legacy of "a small but important group of Jewish thinkers (Judah Magnes, Buber, Arendt and others) [who] argued and agitated for a binational state."105
The first president of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Judah Magnes had been a long-term critic of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 because "he felt that Britain had no right to promise the land of Palestine to any people and that their promise could only lead to the hostility of the Arabs living on the land."106 He founded the Ihud (Unity) Party in 1939 which revived the binational legacy of Brit Shalom circle around Martin Buber of the 1920s and "made the Arab question one of the central issues addressed."107 His position paper "Toward Peace in Palestine" published in Foreign Affairs in January 1943 caught the attention of Arendt.108 Here was a cosmopolitan argument against the Zionist leadership and the "outmoded" idea of 'nation-by-separation-and-deportation' that dated back to "a time when nobody could imagine any other solution of minority or nationality problems than the autonomous national state with a homogeneous population."109
Hannah Arendt saw in Magnes' binational idea for Palestine a ray of hope amidst her deep frustration over the chauvinistic turn of Zionism over the course of the 1940s. 1942 was the year of the Wannsee Conference and the Biltmore Hotel Congress, the former sealing the fate of European Jewry the latter the fate of Arabs in Palestine. Arendt had been advocating the establishment of a Jewish Brigade to join the allied fight against Nazism in Aufbau, a German-language journal for Jews around the world based in New York. Active participation in the war, she argued, was a practical gesture of resistance, a historical affirmation of their full and equal rights as Jews in Europe, and a necessary deed to stake Jewish claims to their European future after the war.110 Conversely, she was appalled by the "fascist" Zionists of the Committee for a Jewish Army in Palestine and its American liberal supporters who were arming anti-Arab and anti-British "terrorist organizations" like the Stern Gang and the Irgun.111 Arendt had believed that the democratic tradition of American Jews would be immune to the ethnic politics of European nationalism in Palestine.112 Much to Arendt's horror, however, the Biltmore Hotel conference aligned American Zionists "unanimously" behind Ben Gurion's mission of a Jewish state in all of Palestine."
It was amidst these horrendous trends in Zionism that Arendt encountered in Judah Magnes 'the conscience of the Jewish people' who "prevented me from despairing and will prevent me for many years to come." While Arendt shared Magnes's faith in a binational federation for Palestine, she felt strongly that his idea for an Anglo-American umbrella protecting the federation would nip the possibility of true independence and equality between Jews and Arabs in the bud. Arendt argued that in spite of his best intentions, Magnes's proposal was still steeped in the old nation-state thinking. His approach would merely prolong the obsolete reign of empire and try to fit Palestine into it. If federation was to be present a meaningful beginning it needed to be divorced from the exigencies of European spheres-of-interest logic.
Arendt also argued against incorporating the Jewish homeland into a regional Arab federation because Magnes' proposal would minoritize Jews once more "within an Arab empire, and this empire is to be protected by an Anglo-American alliance which, to safeguard the way to India, has to deal with and to respect the majority – the Arabs."113 In lieu of Magnes' top-down approach, Arendt proposed two original alternatives, one at the imperial and one at the local level. At the imperial level, she considered the emerging British Commonwealth a federal project that could, if fully committed to equality, eventually "confront" British colonialism. Likewise, a federated Europe would be a safe place with equal rights and identical political status for all of Europe's Jews.114
At the local level, her reflections on Palestine mark the first iterations on council democracy that she developed into her theory of political freedom a decade later. The way to address the conflict was at the local and municipal level where councils would "become the sites of Jewish-Arab cooperation."115 This framework would provide an institutional framework for a shared politics that is pragmatic and problem-solving oriented rather than party-political and identitarian. As such, it had the benefit of avoiding the "troublesome majority-minority constellation, which is insoluble by definition." She was quick to assert that this is by no means a new idea. Indeed, local-level frameworks for cooperation were developed in the late Ottoman municipal councils. The political experience of respecting the other's proximity survived the Mandate divide-and-rule and settler colonialism before Zionist "acts of terror aimed precisely at nodes of neighbourly relations between Arabs and Jews [in places like] Haifa and Tiberias."116
In the month after the Deir
Yassin massacre of April, 1948, Arendt launched one final, passionate
appeal to save the Jewish homeland in Palestine from the brute force
of the impending declaration of the state of Israel in Commentary.
She outlined five criteria on which her idea of a binational state
1. Real goal of the Jews of Palestine is a Jewish homeland. It must never be sacrificed to the pseudo-sovereignty of a Jewish state.
2. The independence of Palestine can be achieved only on a solid basis of Arab-Jewish cooperation.
3. Elimination of terrorist groups. The Zionist leadership needs to prove that it is "again responsible enough to be trusted with the destinies of the yishuv."
4. Immigration to Palestine, limited in numbers and time, is the only 'irreducible minimum' in Jewish politics.
5. Local, cooperative self-government on municipal level is the only realistic political measure to eventually lead to the political emancipation of Palestine.117
One of the most original Israeli thinkers to engage in Arendt's work is the historian Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin. He aims to revive Arendt's idea of binationalism on three premises: first, the binational state was not a realistic option in 1947. Second, like other advocates of binationalism, the idea was more about Jewish identity and Arendt’s self-conscious role as Israel's lonely and 'loyal opposition' than about solidarity with Arab victims. Third, her critique of Zionism "became irrelevant when what she foresaw came to be real." Since her Cassandra cries of the 1940s, a "process of apartheid" in Israel has dispossessed and criminalized the native Arab population. The Jewish state has exceeded Arendt's gloomiest predictions. For one, the two-state solution still does not exist. Over sixty years after the establishment of the state of Israel, Palestine still awaits its share of the 1947 partition plan.118
Raz-Krakotzkin considers it futile to return to "historical options that are no longer relevant" or "simplistically to condemn Zionism." But he does insist that "the historical evaluation of the birth of Israel and the Palestinian tragedy are crucial," not least because "the political concepts that were criticized by Arendt continue to be implemented today." What is significant and novel about Raz-Krakotzkin's argument is that it shifts the focus away from the questions of territories and political structures towards Arendt's question of reconciliation and responsibility. In other words the binational idea for him represents the humanist aspect of the apartheid analogy. Raz Krakotzkin's mobilization of Arendt's idea of binationalism illuminates the surprising overlaps at wort in both the one-state and the two-state scenario for Israel-Palestine. Binationalism can and, in fact, must be at the heart of both scenarios. On the one hand, a two-state solution cannot prevail without the recognition of legal, institutional and economic obligations and interdependencies between the two peoples. On the other, a one-state solution, also, must account for the historical reality of two peoples sharing Israel-Palestine. In other words, a single, secular democratic state cannot reduce the Jewish presence to a community of faith, it must, with Arendt, avoid reminoritizing the Jewish population. Conversely, a purely Jewish state inferiorizes the non-Jewish populations.
Raz-Krakotzkin reckons that Arendt ignored the "theological aspects' of Jewish presence in Palestine because she confused them with the messianic myths of Zionism. The non-Zionist recognition of a theological link to Palestine would, in fact, support her argument that the philosophical problem of Jewish state was not the separation of religion and state. At stake is the ability to imagine a state that guarantees the religious and political freedoms of two multiply- and overlappingly-constituted peoples. Arendtian binationalism, then, is "a set of values [that] demands the separation of national identity from the state and the regard of the other as an integral part of the self-definition" in Raz-Krakotzkin's analysis.119
This essay has demonstrated how the reception of Arendt has been a weather bell for political trends in the Middle East. She and her work have entered intellectual debates in moments of crisis and inspiration since the Eichmann trial of 1961 and Khayri Hammad's first translation of On Revolution in 1964.
Let me conclude by returning to Arendt as a champion of non-violent dissent. If Hannah Arendt can be mobilized for liberal change in Iran, as Ramin Jahanbegloo has done so passionately, can her work be used for other forms of civil-disobedience? The revolutions of 2011 have many of the trappings of what Jonathan Schell called "Arendtian revolutions" in Latin America and Eastern Europe.120 Like these earlier incarnations, people power propelled the Arab uprisings the moment fear from state terror vanished. The regimes were left with desperate acts of violence. What distinguished the Arendtian quality of the toppling of Ben Ali and Mubarak was not that it was without violence. Arendt was no pacifist, of course. Rather, the on-going revolutions were made possible by the spontaneous organization of popular committees in the urban and rural centres and the unrehearsed ability to think, communicate and act together as equals who are driven by a sense of personal responsibility to confront dictatorship and who are willing to sacrifice themselves for political freedom.121 In On Revolution, Arendt also warned that the threat of counter-revolution required that the revolutionary spirit be carried over into the law-making phase: "there is nothing more futile than rebellion and liberation unless they are followed by the constitution of the newly won freedom."122
One of the most powerful (in Arendt's sense of power as consent-based), non-violent movements coming out of the Arab World today is the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign that Palestinian civil society groups have called for in 2005 and has now become a global counter-hegemonic phenomenon. Would Arendt have supported the Palestinian BDS movement to bring about the end of Israeli occupation and the right of Palestinian return by public campaigns that raise awareness and pressure businesses, schools and governments to distance themselves from Israel? Perhaps, perhaps not. There is certainly ample room for this kind of non-violent action in her writings. For one, she supported the economic boycott of German businesses in the 1930s and was furious when the Zionist Organization in Palestine broke it.123
The intellectual merit of the
BDS campaign from an Arendtian standpoint is that it is based not on
the old and invalid hyperbolic equation of Israel with Nazi Germany.
Instead, it rests on universal principles of equality. It also draws
on a historically-informed comparison with a colonial – rather
than totalitarian – form
of rule. In South Africa the anti-Apartheid struggle led – warts
and all – to
a form of binational sharing of one and the same land and thereby
avoided the kind of violent population exchange that occurred with
such devastating consequences between India and Pakistan in
A committed binationalist, Arendt argued that no matter how many Ashkenazi settlers would immigrate to Palestine, they could only establish minority rule of 'warriors.'125 Sixty years on, the time has come to confront settler privilege and force Israel to share the land it has colonized with its native inhabitants. This essay points to the possibility that to support the non-violent struggle for the Palestinian right to have rights in a Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement would be the Arendtian way to realize the humanist ideal of a binational state in Palestine where Jews and Arabs organize themselves in local councils and build a democratic and secular democracy from the ground up. "It is not too late!" she may have intoned once more.
Jens Hanssen is Associate
Professor of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean history at the
University of Toronto. His book publications include Fin de Siècle
Beirut (Oxford, 2005); and two co-edited volumes: Arab Provincial
Capitals in the Late Ottoman Empire, (Beirut, 2002); and History,
Space and Social Conflict in Beirut (Beirut, 2005). He has published
in The New Cambridge History of Islam (2010), in the International
Journal of Middle East Studies (2011) and has an article on "Kafka
and Arabs" forthcoming in Critical Inquiry. His research
interests are: the connection between intellectual trends and urban
culture, imperialism, liberalism, cosmopolitanism and the Arab Left.
He is currently conducting research on intersections between
German-Jewish and Arab intellectual
1 Martin Jay: "Name-Dropping or Dropping Names: Modes of Legitimation in the Humanities", in: Force Fields: Between Intellectual History and Cultural Critique, New York 1993, 167-179. The author would like to thank Mazen Masri, Natalie Zemon Davis, Vince Dolan, Faleh 'Abd al-Jabar, Hazem Saghieh, Ronnie Beiner, Sara Salih, John Hayden, Ramin Jahanbegloo, Fadi Bardawil for their help and criticism of earlier versions of this essay.
2 Ramin Jahanbegloo: Conversations with Isaiah Berlin, New York 1991, 82.
3 Kanan Makiya: "An Iraqi Discovers Arendt", in: World Policy Journal 22 (2006), 83-86, here: 83.
4 Jürgen Habermas: A Theory of Communicative Action, vol. 2, Boston 1981, 484.
5 Mahmoud Chreih found the syllabus for Dolan who kindly forwarded it to the author.
6 Theodor W. Adorno / Max Horkheimer : Dialektik der Aufklärung: Philosophische Fragmente, Frankfurt a. M., 1994.
7 Hannah Arendt : The Origins of Totalitarianism, New York 1976, ix.
8 Şeyla Benhabib: The Reluctant Modernism of Hannah Arendt, London 1996.
9 Hannah Arendt: "Reflections on Little Rock", in: Dissent (1959), 47-59; Hannah Arendt: On Violence, New York 1970, 18, 65, 94-96.
10 Mahmood Mamdani: Good Muslims – Bad Muslims: America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terror, New York 2004, 6-9. Richard King / Dan Stone (eds.): Hannah Arendt and the Uses of History: Imperialism, Nation, Race, and Genocide, New York 2007.
11 Christopher Lee: "Race and Bureaucracy Revisited: Hannah Arendt's Recent Reemergence in African Studies," in: King / Stone: Hannah Arendt and the Uses of History (see FN 10), 68-86.
12 Hannah Arendt : On Revolution, introduction by J. Schell, New York 2006, 231-265.
13 Slavoj Zizek: Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? Five Interventions in a (mis)use of a Notion, London 2001, 3-8.
14 Derrick O'Keefe: Michael Ignatieff: The Lesser Evil, New York 2011. See also Eyal Weizmann: The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza, New York 2012.
15 Christopher Hitchens: "From 9/11 to the Arab Spring", in: The Guardian, 9 September 2011. Online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/sep/09/christopher-hitchens-911-arab-spring <29.11.2011>.
16 Samantha Power: "Introduction", in: Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism, New York 2004, viii-xxiv.
17 See Bassam Tibi: "The Totalitarianism of Jihadist Islamism and its Challenge to Europe and to Islam", in: Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 8 (2007), 38-40, 50.
18 Arendt: On Violence (see FN 9), 55.
19 Hannah Arendt : Between Past and Future, introduction by Jerôme Kohn, New York 2006, 96.
20 Norma Claire Moruzzi: "Reading Arendt in Tehran / Treading Tehran through Arendt: Speech, Action, and the Question of Street Politics", in: A Great Cities Working Paper (UIC: College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, 2009). See also her "Speaking Through the Mask: Hannah Arendt and the Politics of Social Identity", Ithaca 2000.
21 Hannah Arendt: Die ungarische Revolution und der totalitäre Imperialismus, translated by Charlotte Beradt, Munich 1958.
22 Both were translated by Ezattollah Fouladvand.
23 Translated by Mohsen Solassi, Javidan Publishers, Teheran 1984. More recent and on-going translation projects include Mohammad Saeed Hanaee Kashani's translation of Hannah Arendt's "Religion and Politics", in: Essays in Understanding: 1930-1945, ed. by Jerome Kohn, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994, 368-390, in: Ishragh 2-3 (2005). Also, forthcoming, Arendt's "Between Past and Future", and "Crises of the Republic". I am grateful to Ramin Jahanbegloo for sharing his knowledge of Persian translations of Arendt's work.
24 Nushin Arbabzadeh: "They all think I am a spy", in: The Guardian, 19 December 2008. Online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/19/akbar-ganji-iran-shia-muslim <9.11.2010>.
25 Danny Postel: Reading Legitimacy Crisis in Tehran: Iran and the Future of Liberalism, Chicago 2006, 83.
26 Postel: Reading Legitimacy Crisis (see FN 25), 84.
27 Arendt: On Revolution (see FN 12), 129-130.
28 Sadik al-ʿAzm, personal e-mail, 11 June 2010.
29 Turkish reception of Arendt's work is important but cannot be dealt with here. Suffice it to note that Turkish translations of Arendt's work proliferated in the mid-nineties. The publisher İletişim Yayınları included the following works in its Series Politika Dizisi: İnsanlık Durumu (The Human Condition, 1994), Geçmişle Gelecek Arasında (Between Past and Future, 1996), Totalitarizmin Kaynakları I: Antisemitizm (vol. 1 of The Origins of Totalitarianism, Antisemitism, 1996), Şiddet Üzerine (On Violence, 1997), Totalitarizmin Kaynakları I: Emperyalizm (vol. 2 of The Origins of Totalitarianism: Imperialism, 1998). In 2009, Metis Yayınları published Kötülüğün Sıradanlığı: Eichmann Kudüs'te (Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil). I thank Mostafa Minawi for this information.
30 According to the first page of the copy in Jafet Library, somehow made its way from Cairo to New York when someone bought it from "International Student Center, Washington Square" and shipped it to AUB.
31 Khayri Hammad: Ra’y fi-l-thawra, annotated translation of Arendt: On Revolution, Cairo 1964, 9.
32 Hammad: Ra’y fi-l-thawra (see FN 31), 5.
33 Arendt: On Revolution (see FN 12), 253-267.
34 Uday Sing Mehta: Liberalism and Empire; a Study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought Chicago 1999; Jennifer Pitts: A Turn to Empire: The Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France, Princeton 2005; Susan Buck-Morss: Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History, Pittsburgh 2009.
35 Vijay Prashad: Darker Nations: a Popular History of the Third World, New York 2007.
36 Hammad: Ra’y fi-l-thawra (see FN 31), 29.
37 Arendt: On Revolution (see FN 12), 213.
38 Hammad: Ra’y fi-l-thawra (see FN 31), 137.
39 This anti-colonial conception of revolution was expressed in Gamal Abdel Nasser : The Philosophy of the Revolution, with an introduction by J. S. Badeau, Buffalo: Smith 1959.
40 Hammad: Ra’y fi-l-thawra (see FN 31), 36. Hammad falsely invoked Arendt's notion of council democracy.
41 Hammad: Ra’y fi-l-thawra (see FN 31), 114.
42 Hammad: Ra’y fi-l-thawra (see FN 31), 205.
43 Muhammad 'Umar Hamada: Mawsuʿa aʿlam Filastin fi l-qarn al-ʿashrin, Damascus 2000.
44 Cairo: Dar Nahdat Misr li-l-Tibaʿ wa-l-Nashr, Feb. 1974. Dar al-Kutub no. 1870/1974. It appeared in the series "buhuth fi l-fikr al-siyasi".
45 Arendt: Between Past and Future (see FN 19), 98.
46 Arendt: Between Past and Future (see FN 19), 99.
47 Arendt: Between Past and Future (see FN 19); see also Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism (see FN 7), 367.
48 Samir al-Khalil [Kanan Makiya]: Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq, Berkeley 1989, 129.
49 Makiya: Republic of Fear (see FN 48), 38.
50 Makiya: Republic of Fear (see FN 48), 49-58.
51 Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism (see FN 7), 222-266.
52 Makiya: Republic of Fear (see FN 48),102-103.
53 Hannah Arendt: "The Ex-Communists", in: Essays in Understanding, 1930-1954: Formation, Exile, and Totalitarianism, edited and with an introduction by Jerome Cohen, New York 1994, 391-401.
54 Hannah Arendt: Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics, Civil Disobedience, on Violence, Thought on Politics and Revolution, New York 1972, 44-47.
55 Jeanne Kirkpatrick: "Dictatorships and Double Standards", in: Commentary Nov. 1979.
56 Makiya: Republic of Fear (see FN 48), 74.
57 Mamdani: Good Muslims – Bad Muslims (see FN 10), 95-97, 119-22.
58 Faleh Abd al-Jabar / Hosham Dawod: Tribes and Power: Nationalism and Ethnicity in the Middle East, London 2005.
59 Joy Gordon: Invisible War: the United States and the Iraq Sanctions, Cambridge 2010.
60 Elisabeth Young-Bruehl: "On the Origins of a New Totalitarianism", in: Social Research 69 (2002), 567-578.
61 Hazem Saghiyeh: "Saddam Hussein: Quel totalitarisme?", in: Le Livre Noir de Saddam Hussein, ed. by C. Kutschera, Paris 2005, 119.
62 Faleh Abd al-Jabar: "Sheikhs and Ideologues: Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Tribes under Patrimonial Totalitarianism in Iraq, 1968-1998", in: Tribes and Power, 69-109.
63 al-Jabar: Sheikhs and Ideologues (see FN 62), 89.
64 Sheldon Wolin: "Inverted Totalitarianism", in: The Nation, 1 May 2003. Since this article, Wolin has extended his analysis into the Obama period which he considers "mitigative" not "paradigmatic" change. Idem: Democracy Inc.: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, Princeton 2010.
65 Michael S. Christofferson: French Intellectuals Against the Left: the Antitotalitarian Moment of the 1970's, New York 2004.
66 Fadi Bardawil: When All This Revolution Melts into Air: The Disenchantment of Levantine Marxists, New York (Ph.D. Thesis) 2010.
67 Waddah Sharara: Taʿbir al-suwwar: maqallat fi l-qisas wa-l-sinima wa-l-shiʿr wa-l-afkar, Beirut 1990, 570.
68 Waddah Sharara: Dawlat Hizb Allah, Beirut 1996, 3-11, 364-368.
69 Tayyib Salih: "Hannah Arendt wa samaja al-sharr", in: al-Majallah (Cairo), 15 November – 28 December 1997. Republished in his "Mukhtarat", vol. 9, Beirut 2004, 168-203. Salih explains that the Arabic term "samij" captures Arendt's meaning of 'banal,' rather than the common "tafih", which carries the desensitizing meaning of 'insignificant.'
70 Salih: Mukhtarat (see FN 69), 167-168.
71 Hannah Arendt : Eichmann in Jerusalem: a Report on the Banality of Evil, London 2006, 5; Salih: Mukhtarat (see FN 69), 171-174.
72 Amos Elon: "The Excommunication of Hannah Arendt", in: Eichmann in Jerusalem (see FN 71), vii-xxiii.
73 Steven E. Aschheim: "Nazism, Culture and The Origins of Totalitarianism: Hannah Arendt and the Discourse of Evil", in: New German Critique 70 (1997), 117-139, here: 121.
74 Stéfane Mosès: "Das Recht zu urteilen: Hannah Arendt, Gershom Scholem und der Eichmann-Prozess", in: Hannah Arendt Revisited: "Eichmann in Jerusalem" und die Folgen, ed. by Gary Smith, Frankfurt a.M. 2000, 80-81.
75 Pierre Birnbaum: Geography of Hope: Exile, the Enlightenment, Disassimilation, translated by C. Mandell, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), 217.
76 Eyal Sivan: "Truth, Memory, Editing and the Eichman Trial", in: lecture at a conference on Filming the Eichmann Trial at UCLA, 22-23.2.2009. Online: http://www.international.ucla.edu/cnes/conferences/eichmann-trial/ <29.11.2011>.
77 Judith Butler: "Hannah Arendt's challenge to Adolf Eichmann", in: The Guardian, 29 august 2011. Online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/29/hannah-arendt-adolf-eichmann-banality-of-evil <29.11.2011>.
78 On the intense debate in Haaretz, see Bat-Ami Bar On: The Subject of Violence: Arendtian Exercises in Understanding, Lanham 2002, chapter 5.
79 Idith Zertal: From Catastrophe to Power: Holocaust Survivors and the Emergence of Israel, Los Angeles 1998.
80 Zertal: "From the People's Hall to the Wailing Wall: A study in Fear, Memory and War", in: Representations 69 (2000), 96-126. While Zertal views the Eichmann trial as an ideological source for the 1967 war, Finkelstein dates Israeli state instrumentalization of the Holocaust to the June War itself, in: The Holocaust Industry, London 2000.
81 Elhanan Yakira: "Hannah Arendt, the Holocaust and Zionism: A Story of Moral Failure", in: Israel Studies 11 (2006), 31-61.
82 Bernard Wasserstein: "Blaming the Victim – Hannah Arendt Among the Nazis: The Historian and Her Sources", in: The Times Literary Supplement, 30 October 2009.
83 Elhanan Yakira: Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust: Three essays on Denial, Forgetting, and the Delegitimation of Israel, Cambridge 2010.
84 "Is Hannah Arendt Still Relevant Today?", in: www.frontpagemag.com on 26 February, 2011. Online: http://frontpagemag.com/2010/02/26/symposium-is-hannah-arendt-still-relevant/ <29.11.2011>.
85 Meir Litvak / Esther Webman: From Empathy to Denial: Arab Responses to the Holocaust, New York 2009. Gilbert Achar contextualizes this upsurge in the Arab Press at the time of the Eichmann trial in terms of Arabs' profound irritation "by Israel's exploitation of the Eichmann affair". In: The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives, New York 2010, 210-214.
86 Litvak / Webman: From Empathy to Denial (see FN 85), 128. See Shihab al-Din Mufid al-Sayyid Yasin Yunan Labib Rizq: al-Sahyuniyya wa-l-ʿunsuriyya, Cairo 1977, 69-72.
87 Litvak / Webman: From Empathy to Denial (see FN 85), 123.
88 ʿAbd al-Wahhab al-Massiri: al-Sahyuniyya wa-l-Naziyya wa-nihayat al-tarikh, Cairo 1968, 120-122.
89 Litvak / Webman: From Empathy to Denial (see FN 85), 373.
90 Michael Rothberg: Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization, Stanford 2009; Edward Said: "Zionism from the standpoint of Its Victims", in: The Question of Palestine, London 1980.
91 Edward Said : Orientalism, London 1994.
92 See discussion of George Lamming in Edward Said: Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, Cambridge 2002.
93 Pierre Birnbaum: Geography of Hope (see FN 75), 206.
94 Edward W. Said: Representations of the Intellectual, New York 1994, 41.
95 Said: Orientalism (see FN 91), 240.
96 Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism (see FN 7), 290, quoted in Said: The Question of Palestine (see FN 90), xiii.
97 Edward Said: Culture and Imperialism, New York 1994, xix.
98 Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem (see FN 71), 10. The court established that Eichmann had no such connections (see p. 235).
99 Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem (see FN 71), 13, 19.
100 Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem (see FN 71), 294.
101 Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem (see FN 71), 292-293.
102 Edward Said: "Ideology of Difference", in: Critical Inquiry 12 (1985), 38-58.
103 Said: "Ideology of Difference" (see FN 103), 47. Compassionate Arendt was not, certainly not towards Levantine Orientals. Regardless of her Orientalism, however, she respected the legal presupposition of native title to land.
104 Elizabeth Young-Bruehl : Hannah Arendt: For the Love of the World, New Haven 2004, xxxv.
105 Edward Said: "The One-State Solution", in: The New York Times Magazine, 10 January, 1999. Online: http://www.nytimes.com/1999/01/10/magazine/the-one-state-solution.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm <10.8.2011>.
106 Young-Bruehl: Hannah Arendt (see FN 104), 225.
107 Hannah Arendt: "The Crisis of Zionism" (This Means You), 22 Oct. 1942, in: The Jewish Writings, ed. by J. Kohn and R. H. Feldman, New York 2007, 178-179.
108 Young-Bruehl: Hannah Arendt (see FN 104), 226.
109 Hannah Arendt: "The Crisis of Zionism, February 1943", in: The Jewish Writings (see FN 107), 336.
110 "Die jüdische Armee – der Beginn einer jüdischen Politik?", in: Aufbau, 14 November 1941, 20-24; "Ceterum Censeo…", in: Aufbau, 26 December 1941. See also "Eine Lehre in sechs Schüssen", in: Aufbau, 11 August 1944, 154-157.
111 Hannah Arendt: "Wer ist das 'Committee for a Jewish Army'?", in: Aufbau, 6 March 1942, 37-42.
112 Young-Bruehl: Hannah Arendt (see FN 104), 225.
113 Arendt: "The Crisis of Zionism" (see FN 109), 336.
114 Arendt: "The Crisis of Zionism (This means You), 20 November, 1942," in: Jewish Writings (see FN 107), 184-185.
115 Şeyla Benhabib: The Reluctant Modernism of Hannah Arendt, 42.
116 Hannah Arendt: "To Save the Jewish Homeland [There is Still Time]", in: Jewish Writings, 397.
117 Arendt: To Save the Jewish Homeland (see FN 116), 401.
118 Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin: "Binationalism and Jewish Identity: Hannah Arendt and the Question of Palestine", in: Arendt in Jerusalem, 165-180; "Jewish Memory between Exile and History", in: The Jewish Quarterly Review 97 (2007), 530-543; "Separation and Binationalism", in: Jadal 10 (June 2011), 1-4. Online: (www.mada-research.org) <29.11.2011>.
119 Raz-Krakotzkin: "Binationalism" (see FN 118), 173.
120 Schell: "Introduction" (see FN 12); Arendt: On Revolution (see FN 12), xi.
121 Hannah Arendt: "Personal Responsibility under Dictatorship", in: Responsibility and Judgment, ed. by J. Kohn, New York 2003, 17-48.
122 Arendt: On Revolution (see FN 12), 133.
123 Hannah Arendt: "Zionism Reconsidered", in: Jewish Writings (see FN 107), 350.
124 Aamir Mufti: Enlightenment in the Colony: The Jewish Question and the Crisis of Postcolonial Culture, Princeton 2007.
125 Bat-Ami Bar On: The Subject of Violence: Arendtian Exercises in Understanding, Lanham 2002, 140.
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In: Rethinking Totalitarianism and its Arab Readings. Proceedings of the Conference "European Totalitarianism in the Mirrors of Contemporary Arab Thought", Beirut, October 6-8, 2010, Hg. Manfred Sing (Orient Institute Studies, 1) URL: http://www.perspectivia.net/content/publikationen/orient-institut-studies/1-2012/hanssen_hannah-arendt Veröffentlicht am: Apr 24, 2012 Zugriff vom: Oct 22, 2014