“She took from me the belief that absolute evil exists in this world, and the belief that I was avenging it and fighting against it. For that girl, I embodied absolute evil ... Since then I have been left without my Holocaust, and since then everything in my life has assumed a new meaning: belongingness is blurred, pride is lacking, belief is faltering, contrition is heightening, forgiveness is being born.”
The Girl Who Stole My Holocaust is the deeply moving memoir of Chayut’s journey from eager Zionist conscript on the front line of Operation Defensive Shield to leading campaigner against the Israeli occupation. As he attempts to make sense of his own life as well as his place within the wider conflict around him, he slowly starts to question his soldier’s calling, Israel’s justifications for invasion, and the ever-present problem of historical victimhood.
Noam Chayut’s exploration of a young soldier’s life is one of the most compelling memoirs to emerge from Israel for a long time.
At the time she wrote her book on the Eichmann trial, Arendt herself was a Zionist, but this did not prevent her from speaking the truth and at a high personal cost. She was denounced by many she had known and a few very close personal friends in Israel and New York broke off all relations. The film on her life is definitely worth a watch. The extracts below from her book are worth reading in any case, but given that the soft left in the Labour Party has lost momentum and is tending to cave in to carefully orchestrated media and pro-Zionist campaigners, these extracts show that however misjudged Ken Livingstone's comments may have been they are not historically inaccurate. Yesterday the Deputy Chief of the IDF [Israeli Defence Force] declared that Israel was in a late-Weimar situation, i.e., on the edge of fascism. This would not have surprised Arendt but would have got the Israeli army chief suspended from the British Labour Party. - Tariq Ali
Taken from Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt:
The storm over Labour's alleged "culture of anti-semitism" rolls on, with daily news of further suspensions and resignations - the latest of which is the suspension of anti-Zionist activist and Momentum member Jackie Walker because of a contrived controversy over a months old facebook comment.
The more allegations emerge, the more the gap between anti-semitism and legitimate criticisms of Israel seems to be closing for the commentariat. As acclaimed scholar Norman G. Finkelstein recently stated in a interview for Open Democracy, the scandal "has nothing whatsoever to do with the factual situation; instead, a few suspect cases of antisemitism – some real, some contrived – are being exploited for an ulterior political motive." While real anti-semitism undoubtably exists, the string of warnings about "new anti-semitism" must not act as a cover for Israeli state actions. As the powerful statement released on behalf of the Jewish Socialist Group states "criticism of Israeli government policy and Israeli state actions against the Palestinians is not antisemitism," - the two must be clearly seperated.
For more on Israel and Palestine, below is a Verso reading list on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the politics of anti-Zionism.