Deconstructing Zionism: A Critique of Political Metaphysics.

JurisdictionNew Zealand
AuthorParsons, Nigel
Date01 January 2016

DECONSTRUCTING ZIONISM: A Critique of Political Metaphysics

Editors: Gianni Vattimo and Michael Marder

Published by: Bloomsbury, New York and London, 2014, 180pp, US$29.95.

Deconstructing Zionism is dedicated to Jacques Derrida. This might seem intimidating and ironic. The famous French philosopher was not only recondite; Jewish, he was also pro-Israel. Christopher Wise duly observes that 'Derrida's views on Zionism did not represent what is most exemplary in his thought'. To be fair, Wise does acknowledge that Derrida advocated withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories. Derrida also contributed greatly to the toolkit used here to deconstruct Zionism. This act of deconstruction permits the analyst to 'open, to disassemble, to examine of what the assemblage is made' (Jean-Luc Nancy, cover).

The Zionist assemblage holds that Jews are not just a religious group but a nation possessed of the right to self-determination and a state. This state ought to be in Palestine. It is called Israel. The distortion of human life inherent in pursuit of this project is massive. Hence editors Vattimo and Marder assert that to deconstruct Zionism is to

demand justice for its victims--not only for the Palestinians, who are suffering from it, but also for the anti-Zionist Jews, 'erased' from the officially consecrated account of Zionist history. By deconstructing this ideology, we shed light on the context it strives to repress and on the violence it legitimizes with a mix of theological-metaphysical reasoning and affective appeals to historical guilt. The metaphysics in Zionism underpin its claims on Palestine.

In all its forms it takes the concept of the Jewish people and its connection to the 'Land of Israel' to be transhistorical and unitary, temporary exiles notwithstanding. Proclaiming Jerusalem to be the 'eternal and indivisible' capital of the State of Israel, it wilfully neglects the city's historicity, its changing architectural, demographic, and political realities along the centuries. Enter deconstruction, the power of which inheres in its readiness to reject 'the assumptions Zionism takes to be untouchable.' For example, 'Just as deconstruction is the possibility of justice, so it is the necessity of a diaspora, without return to the fictitious sameness of the origin'.

Eleven uneven essays follow. Amongst the highlights, Vattimo relates a personal account of becoming anti-Zionist by grasping the weight of al-Nakba, the Palestinian...

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