“The Critique of Violence and Other Jewish Quandaries”: A Study of Jewish Criticisms of State Violence and Dispossession in the Twentieth Century, Focusing on Walter Benjamin, Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi, and Emmanuel Levinas.


ACLS Fellowship Program


Rhetoric and Comparative Literature


This study considers several twentieth-century Jewish thinkers who offered public criticisms of state violence and encountered the risks and obligations of making such public claims. A deliberate consideration of major Jewish intellectuals, including Walter Benjamin, Martin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt, and Primo Levi, yields critical perspectives on state violence formulated through ideals derived from Jewish philosophical or religious thought or from twentieth-century reflections on dispossession and genocide. Public criticisms against gratuitous state violence, arguments in favor of co-habitation, and opposition to dispossession constitute important, if underappreciated, dimensions of Jewish values.