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Arendt Studies

Volume 5, 2021

Claire Elise Katz
Pages 45-52

Revisiting the Question of Israel
A Response to Seyla Benhabib

In her chapter on Judith Butler’s Parting Ways, Seyla Benhabib revisits not only Levinas’s statements on Israel but also Butler’s response to them. Several of Levinas’s statements on the State of Israel were made either before the state came into existence or just as it was forming. And several of Levinas’s statements about the hostility that Israel faces were made not about the Palestinian but about the threats to Israel from its neighboring Arab states. In this essay, I revisit those statements and Butler’s response, in order to place them in their proper context. My aim is to ask what we can learn by revisiting these comments when placed in their original context as opposed to thinking of them as comments about Israel in its more contemporary struggles.