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

US Politics
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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.

bruce robbins
About Bruce Robbins

Bruce Robbins is Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and director of the film "Some of My Best Friends Are Zionists." He is also author of "Perpetual War: Cosmopolitanism from the Viewpoint of Violence." http://www.scribd.com/doc/91523836/Perpetual-War-by-Bruce-Robbins

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8 Responses

  1. bcg
    bcg
    April 15, 2019, 1:07 pm

    “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.

    • Keith
      Keith
      April 15, 2019, 4:57 pm

      BCG- “That’s odd, I never thought of myself as a “diaspora Jew”….”

      And you probably don’t have deep pockets either.

      • jrg
        jrg
        April 16, 2019, 11:27 am

        “And you probably don’t have deep pockets either.” What are you insinuating here, Keith?

      • Keith
        Keith
        April 17, 2019, 10:29 am

        JRG- “What are you insinuating here, Keith?”

        That BCG is probably not a Jewish fat-cat. In capitalism, it is the fat-cats who influence policy, not us little people.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      April 15, 2019, 9:49 pm

      I thought the American citizenship was just a temporary measure. Ask your prime minister about it.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      April 16, 2019, 9:25 am

      “What motivates the criticism of Israel by Jews in the diaspora?”

      I’m not Jewish, but one word that leaps to mind is “shame.”

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      April 16, 2019, 11:07 am

      “That’s odd, I never thought of myself as a “diaspora Jew”, I always thought I was an American citizen.”

      For Zionism to satisfy its whole Megillahmania it must colonize the diaspora, too.
      That, in the end may prove harder than colonizing Palestine.

  2. eljay
    eljay
    April 15, 2019, 3:15 pm

    … 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; all the while,
    – committing (war) crimes deliberately and with impunity,
    …Israel created a sense of obligation to criticize Israel.

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