Volume 3, 2019
Reimagining Zionism and Coexistence after Oslo’s Death
Lessons from Hannah Arendt
Zionism needs a fundamental overhaul given both the collapse of the Oslo-initiated peace process and the erosion of liberal values in Israeli society. There is no better guide than Hannah Arendt for such an undertaking. On the one hand, she provided a searing diagnosis of mainstream Zionism’s foundational shortcomings, which persist to the present. One is a creed that assumes an eternal anti-Semitism. Two is a corresponding insular nationalism, which rejects affirmative engagement with the outside. On the other hand, Arendt articulated an affirmative humanist Zionism based on three elements. First, is a Jewish self-determination aimed at cultural enrichment and emancipation. Second, is an outward-oriented Zionism that embraces internationalism. Third, is substantive coexistence with Palestinians based on an innovative alternative to the homogenous nation-state model. This article retrieves and updates Arendt’s humanist Zionism. I emphasize her plea to confront Zionism’s pathologies, break from an insular nationalist mindset, and foster new political channels for attaining genuine reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.