Zionism and the Jewish Other
Through an engagement with Derrida’s conceptualisation of Europe as that which is non-identical to itself and is always already constituted with and through its others, this chapter analyzes both Europe’s comportment to its Jewish community as in, yet not of Europe, and Zionism’s imaginings of Europe and its understanding of itself as of but not in Europe. For the victims of Zionism, the Palestinian and the African, Arab, and Indian Jewish among them, the ideology has always been unjust and hollow. But even for its proponents, it was a violent process. It promised European Jews full and emancipated membership in the category of the Western, the European, and the enlightened. However, as I show in this chapter, that membership was conditional. To become fully European, the Jews had to leave Europe. Slowly, through their newly endowed civilizational force, they would take part in enlightening the others in the ‘sea of barbarism’ by which they were now surrounded. This chapter suggests that one of the crises of European identity, as well as Europe’s problematic relationship with contemporary Zionism and Israel, cannot be decontextualized from the historical process whereby Jews could become European only by leaving Europe. Once they had arrived, this process of becoming European itself entailed the constitution of others, the first among whom were the Jewish ‘Orientals’ within.
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