Culture

What motivates criticism of Israel by diaspora Jews? An interview with Bonnie Honig

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What motivates the criticism of Israel by Jews in the diaspora? Bonnie Honig, one of the most insightful and original political theorists of her generation, argues, remembering her Jewish upbringing in Montreal and the later effect on her of Israeli violence in Gaza, that the answer is Israel’s own affective machinery.  In targeting the Jewish diaspora in order to manufacture uncritical solidarity, she argues, Israel created, paradoxically, a sense of obligation to criticize Israel.

Honig expands upon her account of diasporic Jewish identity in this article in The Contemporary Condition.

Bonnie Honig is Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Modern Culture and Media and Political Science at Brown University. Her books include Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics (Cornell, 1993), Democracy and the Foreigner (Princeton, 2001) Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy (Princeton, 2009) Antigone, Interrupted (Cambridge, 2013), and Public Things: Democracy in Disrepair (Fordham, 2017).  This interview was conducted by Bruce Robbins in the summer of 2017 in Lexington, Massachusetts.

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“What motivates the criticism of Israel by Jews in the diaspora?”
That’s odd, I never thought of myself as a “diaspora Jew”, I always thought I was an American citizen.

… In targeting the Jewish diaspora in order to manufacture uncritical solidarity, she argues, Israel created, paradoxically, a sense of obligation to criticize Israel. … In… – targeting and ethnically-cleansing non-Jews into the diaspora in order to manufacture a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”; and then – militarily-occupying and colonizing non-Israeli territory;… Read more »