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Hannah Arendt on the Jews & the Jewish State


Hannah Arendt

6,036 words

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), the German Jewish thinker who emigrated to America from Germany in the middle of the last century, is well-known for her studies of The Origins of Totalitarianism (with its three sections on “Antisemitism,” “Imperialism,” and “Totalitarianism”) (1951), The Human Condition (1958), and her work on the American and French Revolutions, On Revolution (1963). Arendt had studied under Martin Heidegger in Marburg, under Edmund Husserl in Freiburg, and Karl Jaspers in Heidelberg before she was forced to leave Germany for France in 1933. After her flight from Germany, she lived in Paris until 1941, when she emigrated to the United States.

Arendt’s opposition to totalitarianism and sympathy for socialism led her to advocate political activism in support of individual human freedom. Her various sociological works were influenced not only by her studies in existential philosophy but also by the sociology of Max Weber, whose appellation of Jewry as a “pariah people” in his 1922 book Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft influenced her own conception of the identity of the Jewish people in European society. Her views on the Jewish Question expressed in essays written in the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s and collected in The Jewish Writings by Jerome Kohn and Ron. H. Feldman[1] [2] are particularly interesting for the glimpse they provide into the mentality of the assimilated and educated Jews of Germany in the first half of the twentieth century.

Assimilation & anti-Semitism

Arendt’s preferred Jewish society within Europe was that of the early nineteenth century, when Berlin’s Jewish salons had become home to aristocrats and artists, who were both outside the bourgeoisie, just as the Jews too, as “pariahs,” were.[2] [3] The Berlin salon of Rahel Varnhagen (1771-1833), for example, provided a meeting place for artists, poets, and intellectuals such as Friedrich Schlegel [4], Friedrich Schelling [5], Friedrich Schleiermacher [6]Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt [7], Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué [8], Ludwig Tieck [9]Jean Paul [10], and Friedrich Gentz [11].[3] [12] Though Arendt does not remark this fact, these several figures of the Romantic movement who attended her salons indeed represented in their works the newly blossoming bourgeois world of the nineteenth century.[4] [13]

Arendt sympathized particularly with those assimilated Jews of that time who were conscious of their “pariah” status within Christian European society. She criticized the unthinking assimilationists who gradually withdrew their support for the princely states of Europe and worked for their dissolution. This change was indeed a major source of the increasing anti-Semitism in Europe, and especially traceable to the “parvenus” who had favored total assimilation. She preferred instead those who chose to remain “pariah Jews” within European society:

Modern Jewish history, having started with court Jews and continuing with Jewish millionaires and philanthropists, is apt to forget about this other thread of Jewish tradition – the tradition of Heine, Rahel Varnhagen, Sholom Aleichem, of Bernard Lazare, Franz Kafka, or even Charlie Chaplin [sic]. It is the tradition of a minority of Jews who have not wanted to become upstarts, who preferred the status of “conscious pariah.” All vaunted Jewish qualities – the “Jewish heart,” humanity, humor, disinterested intelligence – are pariah qualities. All Jewish shortcomings – tactlessness, political stupidity, inferiority complexes, and money-grubbing – are characteristic of upstarts. There have always been Jews who did not think it worthwhile to change their humane attitude and their natural insight into reality for the narrowness of caste spirit or the essential unreality of financial transactions.[5] [14]

In this Arendt follows Heine’s Rousseauistic distinction between the pariah and the parvenu:

Confronted with the natural order of things, in which all is equally good, the fabricated order of society, with its manifold classes and ranks, must appear a comic, hopeless attempt of creation to throw down the gauntlet to its creator. It is no longer the outcast pariah who appears the schlemiel, but those who live in the ordered ranks of society and who have exchanged the generous gifts of nature for the idols of social privilege and prejudice. Especially is this true of the parvenu, who was not even born to the system, but chose it of his own free will, and who is called upon to pay the cost meticulously and exactly, whereas others can take things in their stride.[6] [15]

Unlike Karl Marx, who had maintained that the Jews were rootless because they had been chiefly relegated to financial activities in their diaspora, Arendt attributed their increasingly cosmopolitan character to their diminishing financial and political support for states that were beginning to lose their traditional power in Europe. She observes that Jews had originally backed the European princely states as their financiers and participated willingly in the initial phases of assimilation into European society.[7] [16] However, the Jewish bankers had built up the European states to a point where the latter lost their own power. Arendt notes that Jews themselves gradually abandoned their favored banking jobs for industrial and intellectual ones. They thereby spread international cultural fashions that branded them as leaders of cosmopolitan worldviews.[8] [17]

After the disintegration of the princely states, the Jews continued to function as international bankers, such as the Rothschilds most notably, and gradually created the expanding banking capitalism of the nineteenth century. The court Jew was now being gradually replaced by the rising bourgeois Jew.

The Junkers also turned against the contemporary state when they suffered loss of land due to the arbitrary sale of their lands by the monarch. They saw that the Jewish bankers had helped the monarchical distribution of Junker land through their championing of free trade laws that allowed such distribution. In general, the Junkers wished to keep the rising bourgeoisie down and focused on the Jews as the driving force of the latter. When the Junkers finally obtained concessions through the Compensation Act of 1821, they were at the same time forced to accept power only through capitalist means, and thus assume a pseudo-bourgeois status.[9] [18] With the rise of capitalist oligarchs, the aristocrats joined the petty bourgeois and the guilds in their agitation against bourgeois reforms and against Jewish emancipation as well. The Junkers used Christianity as an ally against the Jews and renewed the anti-Semitism of the state to the extent that the Jewish emancipation was repealed in 1823.

The German bourgeoisie, which was generally opposed to the state, were against the aristocrats and the court Jews equally.[10] [19] New “aristocratic” statist theories were propounded by conservative thinkers like Adam Mueller and Joseph Goerres who wished to free the state from Jewish financial control. However, the Junkers’ propaganda against the “Jewish” bourgeoisie was so insistent that the German bourgeois themselves soon sought to dissociate themselves from their Jewish fellows to avoid the stigma that had become attached to their social status. The argumentation of the new, rising anti-Semitism was increasingly like that of the original feudal anti-Semitism of Europe. Thus it was that the Junkers were able to export it easily to the east, where the social conditions were still relatively feudal. The peasantry, who were totally neglected in all these processes, formed a natural breeding ground for anti-Semitism.

While the growing industrialization of the nineteenth century encouraged anti-statist sentiment, the European nation-state was, along with anti-Semitism, further disintegrated in the early twentieth century by the collectivist tendencies of National Socialism among the populations of Europe, according to Arendt.


The steady increase in anti-Semitism in the latter part of the nineteenth century gave rise to a desire among some Jewish activists, such as principally by Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), for the establishment of a Jewish homeland. In the late nineteenth century, the Dreyfus affair heightened the tension between Jews and Europeans. Herzl’s personal experience of anti-Semitism in Vienna also strengthened his belief in Zionism as a solution to the problems of the Jewish people in Europe. He was further spurred in his Zionist efforts by the anti-Semitism of European agitators like Stoecker and Ahlwardt in Germany, Schoenerer and Lueger in Austria, and Drumont and Deroulede in France. Indeed, he came to believe that anti-Semitism was a universal phenomenon. Herzl thus adopted, according to Arendt, a view of reality:

. . . as an eternal, unchanging hostile structure – all goyim everlastingly against all Jews – made the identification of hard-boiledness with realism plausible because it rendered any empirical analysis of actual political factors seemingly superfluous.[11] [20]

However, Herzl did not fully address the question of anti-Semitism per se, especially the reasons for it. It was, according to Arendt, Wilhelm Marr (1819-1904), the author of Der Sieg des Judenthums über das Germanenthum (1879), who first discussed it. Of course, Eugen Dühring (1833-1921) and Werner Sombart (1863-1941) came soon after. Dühring in particular made it clear in his treatise on the Jews, Die Judenfrage als Racen-, Sitten- und Culturfrage mit einer weltgeschichtlichen Antwort (1881),[12] [21] that the Jewish question was one based not on religion but on the innate character of the Jewish branch of the Semitic race.[13] [22]

Herzl’s idea of a Jewish homeland was mostly opposed by the wealthy assimilated Jews, just as it gained a more sympathetic response from Eastern European socialist Jews. Baron Moritz von Hirsch and Baron Nathan Rothschild, for example, refused to proffer any aid for Herzl’s plan. The people who supported Zionism were largely assimilated bourgeois Jews who were alarmed by the dangers posed by rising anti-Semitism:

Zionism, hence, was destined primarily, in Western and Central Europe, to offer a solution to these men who were more assimilated than any other class of Jewry and certainly more imbued with European education and cultural values than their opponents. Precisely because they were assimilated enough to understand the structure of the modern national state, they realized the political actuality of antisemitism even if they failed to analyze it, and they wanted the same body politic for the Jewish people.[14] [23]

Pogroms in Russia in the 1880s also caused eastern Jews to move westwards and come into closer cooperation with them. There gradually arose a new “Sabbatai Tzevi” feeling of Jewish nationalism[15] [24] that united Jewry in their desire for a homeland of their own.

Arendt herself adopted Zionism as the Jewish counterpart of European statist philosophy. However, she was particularly a socialist Zionist and favored the socialist political activism of the French journalist Bernard Lazare (1865-1903), who had also experienced the anti-Semitism associated with the Dreyfus affair, over Herzl’s. As Arendt explains:

In a rather summary way it may be asserted that the Zionist movement was fathered by two typical nineteenth-century European political ideologies, socialism and nationalism. The amalgam of these two seemingly contradictory doctrines was generally effected long before Zionism came into being: it was effected in all those national revolutionary movements of small European peoples whose situation was equally one of social as of national oppression. But within the Zionist movement such an amalgam has never been realized. Instead, the movement was split from the beginning between the social revolutionary forces which had sprung from the Eastern European masses and the aspiration for national emancipation as formulated by Herzl and his followers in the Central European countries. The paradox of this split was that, whereas the former was actually a people’s movement, caused by national oppression, the latter, created by social discrimination, became the political creed of intellectuals.[16] [25]

Lazare constantly urged the “pariah” Jew to fight the “parvenu” Jew, who wished to completely forget his Jewish identity through absorption into the affluent society of his hosts.[17] [26] However, Lazare’s efforts were not to be rewarded:

The parvenu who fears lest he becomes a pariah, and the pariah who aspires to become a parvenu, are brothers under the skin and appropriately aware of their kinship. Small wonder, in face of this fact, that of all Lazare’s efforts – unique as they were – to forge the peculiar situation of his people into a vital and significant political factor, nothing now remains.[18] [27]

Nevertheless, even though Arendt favored socialist aspirations, she grants that Herzl did perform a valuable nationalist service insofar as the assimilation that some Jews enjoyed in the early days of their emancipation did not stand them in good stead when the growing anti-bourgeois sentiments of the Europeans were squarely turned on the Jews by the end of the nineteenth century:

Yet in considering Herzl’s movement as a whole and in assessing his definite merits within the given historical situation, it is necessary to say that Zionism opposed a comparatively sound nationalism to the hidden chauvinism of assimilationism and a relatively sound realism to the obvious utopianism of Jewish radicals.[19] [28]

The Israeli state

Though Arendt supported the creation of an Israeli state and even helped Jews emigrate to Palestine between 1935 and 1939 – when she was in exile in France – she did not, as a socialist, approve of many of the state’s policies in the early years of its existence. She especially notes the stark difference between the attitude of the assimilated Jews of the nineteenth century to the Jews of the middle of the twentieth century. For instance, she notes in her essay, “Jewish Politics,” that the situation of young Jews in the 1940s had undergone an alarming transformation:

The so-called young generation – which ranges in age from twenty to seventy – demands cunning of their politicians but not character, opportunism but not principles, propaganda but not policies. It is a generation that has fallen into the habit of constructing its Weltanschauung out of a vague trust in great men, out of blood and soil and horoscopes. The politics that grows out of this mentality is called Realpolitik. Its central figures are the businessman who winds up being a politician convinced that politics is just a huge oversized business deal with huge oversized wins and losses, and the gangster who declares, “When I hear the word culture I reach for my revolver.” Once “abstract” ideas had been replaced by “concrete” stock market speculation, it was easy for abstract justice to give way before concrete revolvers. What looked like a rebellion against all moral values has led to a kind of collective idiocy . . . What looked like a rebellion against intellect has led to organized turpitude – might makes right.[20] [29]

We note here a vivid adumbration of the steady, and fateful, degeneration that Jewry has undergone in the latter part of the twentieth century, especially in its chosen American homeland.

The foundations of the Israeli state

We should, at this point, remember that the state of Israel was the creation of secular Zionists like Herzl, who were assimilated western European Jews fearful of anti-Semitic trends in Europe in the latter part of the nineteenth century. They were later supported by the persecuted Jews of Eastern Europe, who suffered more acute persecution under the Tsars. Israel was not particularly developed, by either western or eastern Jews, as a religious project. On the other hand, it was –  and is still today – opposed on religious grounds by a small group of Orthodox Jews, the Neturei Karta, formed in Palestine in 1938 by Jews from Hungary and Lithuania. Their beliefs are based on Torah dicta regarding the reestablishment of Israel only after the Messiah’s return. They believe that the Jews were exiled because of their sins and can be reconstituted as a state only when they are redeemed by the coming of the Messiah.

As the Neturei Karta maintain:[21] [30]

In the past two thousand years of the dangers and sufferings of exile not once did any of the Sages of Israel suggest that we make a state to protect ourselves.


The founders of Zionism were all atheists who denied the Torah.

Also, the Israeli state is based on a shaky foundation of artificially fostered anti-Semitism and extorted foreign aid:

. . . the means by which [the founders of Zionism] planned to establish a state was by instigating anti-Semitism, and undermining the security of the Jews in all the lands of the world, until they would be forced to flee to their state.

We see that most of world Jewry lives in security and under good physical conditions, and have no desire to go live in the Zionist State. Whereas many people have left the Zionist State to live under better conditions in other lands.

The Zionist State could not continue to exist without economic support from Jews living outside of the Zionist State.

The group believes that the Israeli state does not represent the Jewish people around and for whom the Biblical texts were composed:

Zionism will not replace the Jewish People. The Jewish People will remain strong in their faith and the Zionist State will cease to exist.

It is therefore, our demand that the State that calls itself ISRAEL, should cease to exist.

The Neturei Karta’s reference to the coming of the Messiah as a precondition of the reestablishment of any Israeli state is proven by the case of Shabbatai Zevi (1626-76), a Sephardic Jew and Kabbalist from Smyrna (Izmir) who declared himself the Messiah and prophesied in 1665 the return of the ten tribes of Judah to the Holy Land. It is interesting to note that Zevi’s messianic claim was made at a time when Eastern European Jewry was being persecuted. In 1666, however, he was captured in Constantinople by the grand vizier, Ahmed Köprülü [31] and imprisoned first in Constantinople and then in Abydos. Finally, he was forced to convert to Islam in order to avoid execution at the hands of the Turks.

Socialist & nationalist movements in Israel

The dismantling of the Israeli state called for by the Neturei Karta may at present seem quite unlikely when Israel is solidly protected by its American ally. However, there is another alternative to the present rapacious form of Israel that was first presented in the middle of the twentieth century by the small Palestinian Ihud party, which propagated Arab-Jewish bi-nationalism and was supported by Arendt herself.[22] [32] Ihud was founded in 1946 by Judah Leon Magnes [33]Martin Buber [34]Ernst Simon [35], and Henrietta Szold [36] to foster cooperation between the Zionists and the Arabs. It was allied to the Jewish Labor and Communist parties of Palestine. Magnes originally wished that Jews and Arabs would live peacefully together in Palestine in mostly separate counties or cantons with their own law courts, though there might be a few mixed counties as well. Jews and Arabs would be represented in equal numbers in the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies.

Magnes believed that by cooperating in government, the Jews and Arab would cease to consider themselves as mutually exclusive residents of Palestine. As he declared in his speech at the thirtieth United Nations Special Committee on Palestine meeting in Jerusalem in July 1947:

We propose that Palestine become a bi-national country composed of two equal nationalities, the Jews and the Arabs, a country where each nationality is to have equal political powers, regardless of who is the majority or the minority.[23] [37]

He also wanted Palestine to be a neutral state like Switzerland and the Vatican, lacking an army of its own. Magnes even suggested that Israel should be absorbed into a Semitic federation:

We think that a bi-national Palestine based on parity has a great mission to help revive this Semitic world materially and spiritually. . . . So far as the neighbouring countries are concerned, we believe that the bi-national Palestine based upon parity should become a member in due course of a large federation, a larger union, whether it be the Arab federation or a Union of countries of the Middle East . . . it is perfectly conceivable that some of the other countries of this federation would say, as some have said in days gone by, “We also would like to have some Jewish immigrants in order to help us build our land”. That would not mean, of course, that the Jewish National Home would be extended into those countries, but Jewish scientific ability, Jewish organizing power, perhaps finance, perhaps the experience of the West, which many of the countries of this part of the world have need of, might be placed at their disposal for the good of this whole region. In this way reciprocal influence might be felt.

Further, the Ihud party’s federative programs were based on a belief that Jews and Arabs in Palestine might eventually belong either to a British commonwealth[24] [38] or to a Mediterranean confederation that would spread across North Africa and the Levant. Arendt endorsed this plan entirely:

A further possibility for a reasonable solution of the Palestine question would be a kind of Mediterranean federation. In a model of this sort the Arabs would be strongly represented and yet not in a position to dominate all others. Insofar as it is generally recognized that neither Spain, nor Italy, nor France can exist economically without their possessions in North Africa, this sort of federation would provide for these three countries a fair and just solution to the colonial question. For Jews it would mean the restoration of both their dignity and their place among the nations of the Mediterranean, to the cultural glory of which region they have contributed so much.[25] [39]

Jews would thus live with Arabs in one state, and in one Arab and Mediterranean federation. Such a confederation would certainly benefit the Arabs, who have already absorbed much European culture in their recent history, as well as the European Jews. However, the Jews, especially those of the Jewish Agency, would not consider a future as a minority in a larger Arab state. By 1947, when the UN had come up with a Partition Plan, and when the War of Independence followed in 1948, Ihud’s plans for a bi-national state faded from the intellectual and political scene.

Another Palestinian Jewish group that Arendt supported were the Jews who were already resident in Palestine before the establishment of the Israeli state, and who were generally called the Yishuv [the People]. Their ideal was mostly that of the construction of an Israeli state through Israeli work, and not through colonialist employment of Palestinian labor. The Kibbutz movement was part of this trend, and belonged to the socialist wing of Israelis who wished to see Israel develop its own indigenous Jewish culture through Jewish efforts. However, the movement remained politically weak and inactive. It also agreed, as Arendt points out, to the Nazi-Zionist transfers during the Third Reich.

As further evidence of the weakness of the Left wing in Jewish Palestine, David Ben-Gurion, who had begun as a leader of the party, the moderate Zionist labour party, became Chairman of the Executive Committee of the powerful Jewish Agency [40] in 1935, emphasizing the theory of the irreconcilability of Jews and Arabs. He also led the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 and became Israel’s first Prime Minister in 1949. During the Six-Day War in 1967, he and General Moshe Dayan occupied the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, the Syrian Golan Heights, the Jordanian West Bank, and the Egyptian Gaza Strip.

The Revisionist nationalist party that was established by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in 1923, which was bolstered by the paramilitary Irgun organization, had a more lasting political life than the socialist wing of Zionism. Ben-Gurion himself continuously collaborated with Menachem Begin of the Irgun movement, which was engaged in terrorist attacks such as the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946 and the Deir Yassin massacre of Arabs in 1948. During the 1948 war, Ben-Gurion incorporated the Irgun militia into the Israel Defense Forces. In 1973, the Revisionist Party itself was transformed into the Likud party, and it has ruled Israel for most of the last forty years and recently won reelection. The steady erosion of the socialist aspects of the original Zionist movement is indeed reflected in the relative weakness of Israel’s Labor party ever since the assassination of the Labour Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, in 1995, shortly after his signing of the Oslo Accords with Yasser Arafat.

The revolutionary ambitions of the socialists and Lazare thus remained rather idealistic, and were politically ineffective. The Third Reich’s anti-Jewish measures had indeed increased pro-Jewish feeling in Palestine, and made it more nationalist. As Arendt points out, the consequence was that Israel began to assume a new, non-European character:

Ideologically more important was the fact that, by their interpretation of Palestine in the future life of the Jewish people, the Zionists shut themselves off from the destiny of the Jews all over the world.[26] [41]

The Zionist idea had now become nationalist in a narrow, quasi-National Socialist sense that worked against the development of the European culture that assimilated Jews had once possessed:

Among all the misconceptions harbored by the Zionist movement because it had been influenced so strongly by antisemitism, this false notion of the non-European character of the Jews has had probably the most far-reaching and the worst consequences. Not only did the Zionists break the necessary solidarity of European peoples . . . incredibly, they would even deprive the Jews of the only historical and cultural homestead they possibly can have; for Palestine together with the whole Mediterranean basin has always belonged to the European continent: geographically, historically, culturally, if not at all times politically. Thus the Zionists would deprive the Jewish people of its just share in the roots and development of what we generally call Western culture.[27] [42]

Arendt thus came to consider Israel as a capitalist and colonialist – and perhaps also imperialist – state. She feared that such a state could not survive among hostile Arab neighbors.[28] [43] In general, she preferred to focus on the notion of a Jewish home that Jews should be encouraged to fight for, rather than on the constitution of a Jewish state. This may be tied to her favorite notion of the “Jewish pariah,” wherein the Jew must live along with others, even when feeling himself to be an outsider. She supported Zionism not as a Jewish state, but rather as a Jewish home living in cooperation with the Arabs.

She believed that a socialist state had a greater chance of survival while waiting for the international socialist world. As she outlined in her essay, “To Save the Jewish Homeland” (1948):

1) The real goal of the Jews in Palestine is the building up of a Jewish homeland. This goal 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 Jewish-Arab cooperation. As long as Jewish and Arab leaders both claim that there is “no bridge” between Jews and Arabs (as Moshe Shertok has just put it), the territory cannot be left to the political wisdom of its own inhabitants. . . .

5) Local self-government and mixed Jewish-Arab municipal and rural councils, on a small scale and as numerous as possible, are the only realistic political measures that can eventually lead to the political emancipation of Palestine.

She realized that, without cooperation between Arabs and Jews, the constant support of American Jewry would be necessary for Israel’s sustenance:

If a Jewish commonwealth is obtained in the near future – with or without partition – it will be due to the political influence of American Jews. This would not need to affect their status of American citizenship if their “homeland,” or “mother country,” were a politically autonomous entity in a normal sense, or if their help were likely to be only temporary. But if the Jewish commonwealth is proclaimed against the will of the Arabs and without the support of the Mediterranean peoples, not only financial help but political support will be necessary for a long time to come. And that may turn out to be very troublesome indeed for Jews in this country, who after all have no power to direct the political destinies of the Near East.[29] [44]

However, already in 1944 she had realized the inevitability of American involvement in the Middle East on account of the oil reserves in the region:

. . . the laying of an oil pipeline from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, as planned by the American government, will become one of the most important factors in postwar politics. Since it has evidently been determined that Arabian oil is to cover much of the needs of European countries, America’s future influence on intra-European matters will depend to a large extent on this pipeline.[30] [45]

Furthermore, the Americans clearly use “the rules of divide et impera by which today the Arabs, but possibly tomorrow the Jews, can be assigned the task of guarding oil hubs.”[31] [46]

However, American Jewish solidarity with Israel was at first relatively slow. Chaim Weizmann, who served as the first President of Israel, called for American Jews to return to Israel, but the latter were not initially in favor of such an emigration because they feared accusations of dual loyalty. But the steady drumming up of support for Israel in America soon succeeded to such an extent that even non-Jewish Americans today consider Israel as their natural partner.

Unfortunately, the victory of Israel’s nationalist elements over the socialists has had disastrous results, not only in the Middle East but also in America itself. Herzl’s closing words in The Jewish State – ‘’The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness’’ – have not been proven by recent history. It is significant in this context that, even though the state of Israel had an oriental Sephardic majority for the first fifty years of its existence, it has increasingly followed Herzl’s vision of a state with a majority of European Jews living in a technologically modern land. It is not surprising that the Arabs surrounding the Israeli state are constantly in danger of being dispossessed of their ancestral lands,[32] [47] and that the nations of the world that do not support Israel are thrust into relative poverty as well.

The Future of the Jews

We have already noted that, as the Neturei Karta have demonstrated, there is no real religious justification for the establishment of an Israeli state. Besides, Christians – whether American or otherwise – who accept Jesus as the Messiah can never believe in the coming of another Jewish Messiah and can, logically, never accept the creation of a Jewish state that has not become Christian. Herzl’s professed reason for it, anti-Semitism in Europe, is also not a major danger any longer. It may be better thus for the Jews to abandon Israel altogether and to live in a continuing diaspora among European host states following the federative plans made by the Ihud party and recommended by Arendt.

If, on the other hand, Israel should be allowed to continue its existence as a political entity, it should, following the socialists, like Arendt, be a Jewish home that is developed by Jews as a nursery of Jewish culture. That the Jews should turn away from their capitalist preoccupations to more socialist ones is a precondition of their survival in the long run, considering that anti-Semitism was quickened in the nineteenth century mainly by the Jewish capitalist and financial manipulations within the princely states of Europe.

If Israel is allowed to continue to exist, it must be included within an Arab and Mediterranean federation that would be allied to the European Union rather than to the United States. It is interesting to recall in this context that the Belgian geopolitical thinker, Jean Thiriart (1922-1992), had also propounded a theory of a united European federation that included Israel as a protectorate. As he stated in a 1987 interview with the American evangelical writer Gene H. Hogberg, Israel must become a protectorate of either Russia or Europe (until these two are united). A united Europe should only tolerate:

. . . a “small” pastoral Israel (with the borders prescribed by the UN), “an Israel of kibbutzes and grapefruit” . . . (while) the Biblical paranoia of the (Israeli) Extreme Right who dream of a Greater Israel stretching to the Euphrates must be denounced and resisted with vigour.[33] [48]

Such an inclusion of Israel as a European protectorate naturally presupposes a break in the intimate political relationship between a nationalist Israel and a Right-wing US, since a European federation such as Thiriart’s could certainly not tolerate the anomaly of a pro-American Israel within it. The fact that America has never had a strong socialist element in its politics means that the only Zionist attitude bolstered by the Americans so far has been an increasingly nationalist Zionist one that provokes the hostility of Israel’s neighbors, as well as other nations of the world that are either Islamic or in other ways independent of the American-Israeli axis. The Zionist tendencies of the so-called “Right-wing” parties and governments in the US, Europe, and even South America today are a case in point.

Whether a break between Israel and America can actually be accomplished depends partly on the political resurgence of a Europe that is marked by a civilizatory mission such as that envisaged by European nationalists like Thiriart. But it depends also on whether the Israelis themselves are able to live within a tutelary Europe in a socialist rather than a nationalist manner – following Zionists like Lazare, that is, rather than Herzl. If the Jews of the West manage to retain a sense of their peculiar “pariah” status as Jews – as Varnhagen and Arendt did – and not attempt to distort European culture with American Jewish vulgarity in the vindictive way that the “Frankfurt School,” for example, did in the middle of the twentieth century, it is possible that the Jewish Question may yet be resolved in a reasonable manner. The choice between the relatively cultured status of nineteenth-century European Jewry and the “organized turpitude” of the “businessmen” and “gangsters” of twentieth-century America is thus a momentous one.


[1] [49] Hannah Arendt, The Jewish Writings, ed. J. Kohn & R. H. Feldman (New York: Schocken Books, 2007).

[2] [50] See Hannah Arendt, “Antisemitism,” op. cit.

[3] [51] Arendt was an ardent admirer of Varnhagen and wrote a biography of her in 1938, which was published in 1957 as Rahel Varnhagen: Lebensgeschichte einer deutschen Jüdin aus der Romantik. The English translation, by Richard and Clara Winston, was published as Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess (Baltimore,MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997).

[4] [52] See below.

[5] [53] “We refugees,” in Jewish Writings, p. 274.

[6] [54] “The Jew as Pariah,” ibid., p. 279.

[7] [55] See her unpublished essay, “Antisemitism,” op. cit.

[8] [56] This internationalism among the intelligentsia was studied by the French nationalist Charles Maurras in his essay on “The Future of the Intelligentsia”[8] as one of the principal vices of the nineteenth century (see Charles Maurras, The Future of the Intelligentsia and For a French Awakening, tr. Alexander Jacob (London: Arktos, 2016).

[9] [57] “Antisemitism,” op. cit., p. 105.

[10] [58] For example, Eugen Dühring was opposed to the Junkers as well as the Jews as exploitative sections of society (see Eugen Dühring, The Jewish Question as a Racial, Moral and Cultural Question, with a World-Historical Answer, tr. Alexander Jacob [London: Ostara Publications, 2017]).

[11] [59] “The Jewish State,” op. cit., p. 384.

[12] [60] See my edition of this work, Dühring, The Jewish Question as a Racial, Moral and Cultural Question.

[13] [61] ‘’The Jews are, on the other hand, the most vicious minting of the entire Semitic race into a nationality especially dangerous to nations’’ (see Dühring, The Jewish Question, p. 47).

[14] [62] “Zionism reconsidered,” op. cit., p. 357.

[15] [63] See below.

[16] [64] “Zionism reconsidered,” in The Jewish Writings, p. 348.

[17] [65]  “The Jew as Pariah: A Hidden Tradition,” ibid., p. 284.

[18] [66] Ibid., p. 286.

[19] [67] “The Jewish State,” op. cit., p. 381.

[20] [68] “Jewish Politics,” op. cit., p. 242.

[21] [69] See their Website, Neturei Karta International: Jews united against Zionism [70].

[22] [71] See, for instance, “To Save the Jewish Homeland,” op. cit., p. 399.

[23] [72] See “Hearings of representatives from the Ihud (Union) Association – 30th UNSCOP meeting – Verbatim Record. [73]

[24] [74] “There are some of us, if I may make a confession to you, who have great admiration for the liberalism of Great Britain, for the traditional liberalism of Great Britain; and, particularly now, if I may speak for myself: for the way in which Great Britain is trying to change . . . her Imperialism, which has brought a great deal of unhappiness, into a Commonwealth; the way she has tried to do it in India, the way she has tried to do it in Burma, the way she is trying to do it in Egypt, whether with complete success or not. That is one of the great political movements of history. That is another reason – if you ask me the question – why I say Great Britain would probably be the trustee over this period” (ibid.).

[25] [75] “Between Silence and Speechlessness,” op. cit., p. 197.

[26] [76] “Zionism reconsidered,” p. 361.

[27] [77] Ibid., p. 366.

[28] [78] Hence her insistence on the need for Israel to develop an army of its own in order to establish its sovereignty.

[29] [79] Ibid., p. 373.

[30] [80] “The Political Organization of the Jewish People,” ibid., p. 202.

[31] [81] Ibid., p. 203.

[32] [82] Indeed, Herzl himself had noted in his private diary that “the natives of whatever land was allotted to the Jews would be gently persuaded to move to other countries” (see Ami Isseroff, “Preface” to Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State [83]).

[33] [84] Translated by David Wainwright, “Jean Thiriart: Responses to 14 Questions Submitted By Gene H. Hogberg, Part Four [85].”