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Reflections on Dissent -How Is Hannah Arendt Relevant for Contemporary Israel and India? Ira Chadha-Sridhar

This is a guest post by IRA CHADHA-SRIDHAR

In 2016, the age-old conflict between Israel and Palestine has become tougher and more violent at the ground level. The year has come with several disturbing developments in the region- the intensification of the Gaza blockade, the subsequent statement by the Hamas threatening to implement an explosion unless the blockade is lifted and Israel’s rejection of the French peace treaty for the region. Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Foreign Affairs Minister said, in April 2016 that, “The two sides are further apart than ever.” In other news, Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, has been criticized for his statements claiming Hitler himself was a Zionist before “he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”. The merits of Livingstone’s statements and the fallacious reasoning he employs has been rightly criticized by several international commentators. However, he has unknowingly raised larger, more important questions by his statements about how to criticize the Israeli state without being branded as “anti-Semitic” within international discourse- a problem that several commentators critical of the Israeli regime have faced. How can the international community legitimately advance its criticism of the Israeli state? Although critics of Israel are usually non-Jews, there has been a vibrant critique of the oppressive Israeli regime from the Jewish diaspora itself. For historical instruction, in this article, I draw upon the work of one of the earliest and most controversial voices of critique from the Israeli diaspora- the brutally honest voice of 20th century political philosopher, Hannah Arendt. Her book of unparalleled political influence, ‘Eichmann in Jersulelam: A Report on the Banality of Evil’, created what scholars often refer to as a “war” amongst intellectuals across the world that brought to question the validity of her theories and their political and global ramifications. (Elon 2006) Amongst the Jews, and, in particular, in Israel, Arendt’s work was met with anger and severe political backlash. She was labelled “Anti-Jew”, “Nazi” and a “Jew-hater”- labels that were intended to act as violent threats against her distinct, free intellectual voice. (Elon 2006). Continue reading Reflections on Dissent -How Is Hannah Arendt Relevant for Contemporary Israel and India? Ira Chadha-Sridhar